Thirty three years ago this month, my mother was walking and walking and walking, in hopes that someday soon, she would be holding her first child in her arms. (I didn't get around to being born until the end of next month. Tardiness, apparently, is a perennial fault of mine.) In the second week of May, the climbing tangle of green along part of her route changed, exploding into a cascade of pale-pink, almost sterling-hued roses.
My mother cut some of those vines that May, took them home and rooted them in the earth beside their home. And then, in my own good time, I, too, was born, took root, and my parents' little family of two became three. And when I finally arrived, my mother named the rose, whose real name she didn't know, for me, and that is how it has been known for all the years since.
I've never been back to that little grey house in Memphis, but I imagine if I did, the roses my mother planted when she was wishing for me would be blooming this May, too. It's hardy stock, this plant. My parents continued to root a cutting each time we moved, planting it at each new home, retelling the story, when it bloomed each year, of how it and I came to be.
I've learned in recent years that this is one of the most common specimens of climbing roses around. It is called, by those who know roses, "New Dawn."
This weekend, we will travel to Chapel Hill to honor the short life of Hudson Lily. I've started a little cutting of it to pass on, when the time is right, to our sweet friends, who will remember the second week in May for a very different reason. I don't know if they will choose to name the rose for their daughter, or if they will want to keep it as a constant as they move through the years to come.
But it will be there, if they do, returning year after year for all the years of their lives.