There are very few things that which I do remember of my Grandmother Rose, my namesake. She passed away nearly seventeen years ago. I was only ten at the time.
My name Rose Willow Tomlinson; quite a southern Yank name, if you ask me. I was born in Cheshire, England to Harriet Marie Tomlinson nee Whitaker and William George Tomlinson. My birth day isn't important at the moment; you just need to know that I am nearly twenty-seven. I lived there until I was eighteen. Though, for a brief period of three years when I was seven, we moved to Savannah, Georgia with my mother's mother, Grandmother Rose.
While we were there, I hardly saw my parents. Father was almost always in England on business. My mother, being the only child, was always at the hospital with Grandmother Mother Rose. She'd contracted some form of an illness I can't seem to name. So my parents hired a nanny to watch over me. Miss Evangeline was this frail, young black lady, perhaps a few years younger than I am now, who would stay with me while Mum stayed in the infirmary. She taught me everything that the American public schools didn't.
There were times when Grandmother Rose was able to come home, which were quite often the first year, and Miss Evangeline would be sent home. Still Mum was hardly around to make sure I didn't get into trouble on the small farm.
That first year in America was hard. Grandmother was often in and out of the hospital and the kids at school always seemed to poke fun at me. I was terribly saddened when father sent a letter saying that he wasn't going to be able to come visit us for a long time. That long time ended up being a year.
When I turned eight I received a wonderful gift, two really; Father came home, and Grandmother Rose seemed to be cured. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be seeing much of Miss Evangeline for the next year.
During that time I became terribly homesick, missing especially the gardens at my private school. One day my grandmother came to me and asked me to describe them.
"Oh, they're absolutely beautiful, Grandmother Rose!" I shouted. "The paths are lined with colorful flowers and trellises of morning glories are placed every so often. Beautiful wrought iron sets of tables and chairs dot here and there. But my favorite, are the roses that grow in the south garden." I picked my lips up in a dreamy smile. "Oh, they seem to come in every shade of the rainbow! But do you know which ones are my favorites?"
She shook her head, her graying brown curls bouncing around. "No, I do not."
I leaned in close to her ear. "The scarlet ones," I whispered, knowing they were hers as well.
She mock gasped. "Oh, really? Those happen to be mine, too!"
I giggled. "I know. That's why they're mine!"
Mum had appeared in the door way. "Let's not bother your Grandmother anymore, okay?"
I frowned glumly and slipped off Grandmother Rose's lap. "Yes, ma'am."
"Nonsense!" Grandmother cried. "Rosie and I were just talking of the gardens at her school in England."
Mum glared at her mother for reasons unknown. "It's her bed time, Mother."
Hearing that, I ran up the spiral stair and to my bedroom.
After that I didn't see Grandmother Rose very much after that. Actually, for about two weeks I hardly saw anyone, save for at breakfast and supper.
Miss Evangeline started coming around more often then. Grandmother had gotten sick again and constantly in the infirmary. Of course Mum was always at her bedside. Father had gotten a telegraph about a position in a factory in the north and had immediately left for it.
Miss Evangeline, who was now Mrs. Evangeline and Mary Sue Jackson from the plantation we lived near were the only people I saw for months at time. Finally on the eve of my ninth birthday, Mum summoned us to the infirmary. We surrounded the bed where on my grandmother lie, slipping farther and farther away from us. Around midnight, the nurses sent us home.
Twelve hours later, on December 12, 1893 word of her passing had reached us.
We would stay for just another year longer, figuring out what to do with the farm. We decided to keep but rent it out to a middleclass family moving from North Carolina.
Two weeks before we boarded the ship back to England; my mother gave me a photo album in which was pictures of the beautiful farm I'd live at for the past three years and two keys. I checked every lock on the property to see what they unlocked.
The first key unlocked a gated area hidden behind shrubbery way back on the property.
In this gated area was the most beautiful rose garden I had ever laid eyes upon. It wasn't very big, a small cluster of scarlet rose bushes here and there. There was a trellis of morning glories that led to a circular patio that held a wrought iron and glass table set. On the table was an ornate wooden box.
The second key went to it.
Inside the box was a single piece of paper which read:
My dearest Rosie,
If you are reading this it means I am no longer with you. I only hope that I have moved on to a better place and that you are not grief-stricken. Since you are a woman and a child, I can't will anything to you. But I can do this.
To you my dear granddaughter, I am leaving my secret garden. You inspired me to do this with the stories of your gardens, I hope you love it. It's not much, but I did what I could. Hopefully, one day you will be able to continue where I left off and make it as stunning as you.
Today I live on the property. The garden is a beautiful as ever all thanks to my Grandmother Rose. I often wish she was here to see it now.
I might not remember much of her but it's the quality not the quantity.