The Epic Battle of the Rose Bush Rescue.

From Wikicommons

From Wikicommons- I’ll add a picture of the bush when it’s a little recovered from all the shock

Yesterday, my father and my brother met me at what is (hopefully!) going to be our new home.   It’s about half a mile from my Braucher great grandmother’s house where she used to practice (when I was born- she had already moved to Florida).   Turns out she did one Hel (ha!) of a Landsagen (Land-taking- but I have no idea how to spell it!)  Her descendants lived within a mile of her house for years.

Also, within a few minutes drive was my Great-Nana Helen’s, who I called Nana Cookie (she ALWAYS had cookies) who came over from Austria/Hungary (Macedonia) when she was a small child during WWI.

She lived until I was 12- her husband, Pop Howard, lived until I was three years old, but he’s pretty much haunted the shit out of us for a while, in a good way.  He was 100% Pennsylvania Dutch with roots going back into Mount Penn, Reading, and Exeter Pennsylvania leading all the way back to settlement.

When I was a small child, we would visit Nana Cookie every month as much as we were able- she was in her late 80’s and lived to be in her early 90’s.  Every time we would visit, she would be sitting in the same rocking chair by her beautiful picture window that overlooked her rose garden.  She loved her roses-  She had a small house, but she even had a full white arbor covered in the grape vine our family snuck out of Austria as well as a wonderful wild rose we could smell from a block away (which drove everyone nuts because it had more thorns than any other rose in existence).  Her very favorite roses, however, were the tea-roses my grandparents bought her that were outside of her window.   A pink one from the 1960’s and a yellow one likely purchased in the 1980’s.  She had others- but those two seemed to just thrive the most consistently and successfully.

After my brother and father checked out the house my spouse and I wished to purchase and gave his blessing, nostalgia brought up back to Nana Cookie’s street- where, to our great dismay, we discovered her house was completely abandoned!  Totally ruined- a twin house where her side of the twin almost seem to melt and fall on “her” side.  The lawn hadn’t been mowed in what looked like years, and it was just…well, heartbreaking.  I had a lot of good memories her and that house and so did my father.

However, in the side yard in the absolute mess of overgrown lawn there was a single rosebush left- it was huge, ancient, and still sprouting leaves- and a sort of madness came over me.  I was still awaiting to hear back from the realtor about the house we placed a bid on and I was a nervous wreck.  I needed to occupy myself- so as soon as Dad dropped me off,  I got my shovel and a large bucket from my apartment and drove back to the street on which Pop Howard and Nana Cookie once resided.

I first stopped by what used to be my cousins house only to discover he had moved a while ago- I wanted to ask his permission because she was his grandmother.  Nana Cookie was my Great-grandmother, and if anyone had “dibs” it would be him. I was in the clear.  I called my in-laws to make certain they wouldn’t mind “rose sitting” until settlement-again, I was in the clear.

So, at about 7:30 pm last night, I began clearing away the weeds and large amounts of grass around the rose bush.  I didn’t own any work gloves, and I didn’t bring any snips or cutters- however, Pop Howard had a “Secret shed”- a door, that when opened, just revealed more siding….all the other doors were realtor-locked including the basement… however, the “Secret shed” was still open.  Hidden here was his tetanus-city of discarded things.  In this, I found not only a pair of gloves, but an ancient rusty saw as well as a t-shirt of my cousin’s. (To which I said- “Thanks Pop! But I’m good- I’ll just keep wearing what I have!”)

I felt encouraged.   So, gloves on hands, I started to dig.  Within 5 minutes or less, I received a call from my realtor informing me of a counter-offer (which I accepted!)…and as a dug further, a neighbor’s dog noticed me and just wouldn’t stop barking.  I approached the owner of the dog and I explained “Hey, this used to be my great-grandmother’s house and my dad and I passed by earlier and noticed it was abandoned.  I’m just trying to save her rosebush to plant into our new garden when we move.”

The neighbor actually remembered me from when I was little- she lived with her brother and both of them loved my great grandparents dearly.   Granted, they thought I was insane to tackling this overgrown monster of a rosebush, but they still lent me the rest of the tools I needed to get it out…. my Dad kept texting me to say “hi” to them and various historical things about the helpful neighbors and such which I responded in one-word answers seeing as I was fighting to get the rosebush out and safe as could before my paranoia set in and I was convinced the police would appear magically to lock me away for rose-theft…. to my relief, no one on the street cared the slightest I was there- and indicated the house was likely to be torn down, anyway.

It took over 2 hours working alone in the dark- the rose had been attacked by rose-borers and still survived.  With borrowed snips I cut off all the grey and the dead, as well as kept cutting back until I reached “clean stem” with no borer holes.  The entire time sounding like a lunatic for talking out loud to my dead-great grandfather for help and getting absolutely covered in thorns pricks, scratches, and splinters.  After all was said and done, the bush, even trimmed, was well over 7 feet tall not including the roots- roots which went so deep, they entered into clay my shovel couldn’t penetrate.  I had no choice but to use the rusty saw to cut the main root (as thick as my wrist-and 2 roots combined, no less!) as close to the clay as possible- but after patience, I succeeded in freeing the ancient thing from the surrounding chaos.  Even with the main root “cut”- the remaining root ball was the size of a basketball.  I think it will survive (I hope!)

.   The rose didn’t even fit in the bucket I brought so I had the clean out the trunk of all Ed’s martial art’s gear, and tried to gently coax it to fit in the trunk (after I tried every single attempt at fitting it in various positions into the front seat/back seat of my sedan.)   In the end, I regretfully had to trim it back even further- but closed the trunk as gently as I could on some of the “softer” new growth hoping not to wound the poor thing further than I had already.

I was having a mild asthma attack- woozy, tired, covered in thorns, and dizzy as heck as I drove to my inlaws.  I literally stumbled into their door saying something like “IgottherosebushinmycarandIneedaninhalerandsomewaterplease” before I sort of collapsed on the couch.   My sister in law also has asthma- so that was excellent- same prescription.  So- I waited to catch my breath as my father in law went outside to find a big enough pot for this gigantic tree of a rosebush….telling my sister in law I would need her help as soon as I caught my breath (which was always “in another 10 minutes”).

We noticed Ed’s Dad (my father in law) was missing for quite sometime- so I went to search for him.  Turns out he got into my car- figured out how to get to the trunk- and took out the rosebush by himself with no issue, potted it with GOOD potting soil, fed it, and watered it.  I was so grateful beyond words at having such amazing in-laws.

Not that I am a huge proponent of caring about my family’s collective opinions on my actions most of the time- I can honestly say I was, and still am very proud of myself for getting that rosebush rescued from its personal hell.   Nana Cookie and Pop really cared for those flowers, and there was just something in my gut that just would not let me give up on it.

I didn’t care it was over 7ft tall (the unkempt lawn made it seem oh-so-much-smaller), I didn’t care that I still have thorns embedded in my skin- because godsdamnit, it’s my family rosebush.  I don’t have anything else to remember them by except for a grapevine currently being watched by another relative.

But, honestly and strangely enough for me- the thing that meant the most to me was the pride my family had in me for taking the rose bush back.  My dad was extremely happy about it- even though he was devastated by the condition of Pop Howard and Nana Cookie’s old house- and my grandparents told me the history of the two roses- it will be a surprise to see which one it is since in my region it is still too soon for roses to bloom.

If it is the pink one- it is over 50 years old and was purchased before even my father was born.  If it is the yellow- that indicates that I actually have Nana Cookie’s favorite rose.

Oddly enough- both colors of roses share the traditional meaning of “Appreciation”.

Yellow roses mean “Joy and Friendship”
Pink roses= “Sweetness, Gratitude, and Grace”

(I checked multiple sources….but feel free to add other interpretations in the comments)
Either are fine blessings for a new home.

Honestly, I do fully believe it was beyond coincidence I received the call indicating we “won” the house as soon as my shovel hit the dirt- and I feel really buoyed on how my family, my spouses family, and VERY clearly my ancestors in particular seem to be encouraging this process along.

As for my Braucher grandmother?   She loved doves- and there is a little Mourning Dove mother nesting peacefully in the eave of our new back porch on a platform the seller created just for her little nest.   The backyard has a stream running at the bottom stocked with trout and we have found pheasant feathers, seen ravens, Cardinals (Redbirds to Southern Folks), herons, and all sorts of other interesting critters on the property.

I wrote this post mostly for my own sake;  the inspection is the next part to come- but it seems to me like everything seems to be lining up well on all sides for things to go “smoother than most”- which, in buying a house is just a slightly nicer circle of Dante’s rings of Inferno…. but as long as I remember my ancestors are rooting for me, I think we’ll be all right.


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