Red rose preserved in scrapbook from Spring Banquet, 1967

Red rose preserved in scrapbook from Spring Banquet, 1967

This rose is 48 years old.

When it dropped from my shoulder in the dark,

my date promised to come back the next morning and look for it.

He found it along the path we walked on College Avenue.

Why do I still have this rose?

Because my “date” became my husband.

And his trip back to the street to find the rose

was a gesture that became his signature.


New sidewalk, old memory.

New sidewalk, old memory.

Recently we walked on College Avenue, retracing the steps Stuart took

very early in a spring morning, 1967.

We laughed at our romantic memory when we saw the sign,

the new sidewalk,

and the portable john.

Nothing stays the same forever. Not even carefully preserved roses.

Writing Prompt: can you think of an action, a gesture, that has become a signature in your life? Someone else’s life? Have you preserved any items that you might want to revisit? Let’s talk about it below!

Shirley Showalter


  1. Marian Beaman on May 6, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    You may recall my Good Friday post about Cliff’s robbery on the road and the daffodils as a symbol of hope. What I didn’t include was the fact that the daffodils he found at long last were not in a clump as he had expected, but two blooms standing alone:

    Not only was finding the daffodils his attempt to cope with grief but his kind action of going back repeatedly to retrieve them for me also a romantic gesture. His journal reflects that.

  2. shirleyhs on May 6, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Oh my, Marian. I missed this post during my Lenten Sabbatical. Talk about a gesture! Now there was a dramatic one! And from what I can tell, the gesture is part and parcel of Cliff’s whole approach to life. Beauty, love, faith, and huge energy for all of the above.

    Wordsworth had to see thousands at a glace. Cliff would keep searching until he found two.

    And you also preserved your flowers. And your story.

  3. Melodie Davis on May 7, 2015 at 6:14 am

    The color retained in that rose is amazing, Shirley, after 48 years. I don’t have a romantic story or gesture but when my father helped move me into Northlawn as a freshman in 1971, I didn’t have a lot of “room decor” and it looked pretty barren. I was so touched when he wanted to buy me a simple philodendron from Woolworths in downtown Harrisonburg to bring some life and warmth to the room. I still have the plant, although it went through several cycles where it almost died. A friend even tended it for me the year I spent in Spain as a college junior. Dad was a huge plant/flower person. Very special.

  4. shirleyhs on May 7, 2015 at 7:14 am

    It is rather amazing, isn’t it? I wonder if young women are still doing such sentimental things.

    Your father was so sweet. That gesture clearly was his signature also: bringing living things into other lives and other spaces.

    I’m touched that you managed to keep a plant alive all these years. What a wonderful way to create a real living memory.

  5. Joan on May 7, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Oh my, Shirley, things do change. I love that recent photo. But your marriage is proof that even through growth and change, love can be forever.

    • shirleyhs on May 7, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Thanks, Joan. From left shoulder to right shoulder was one of our captions for that picture. 🙂

      Yes, love can last, as we both know.

      Even if there are times when the portapotty may be necessary.

  6. Sharon Lippincott on May 7, 2015 at 11:10 am

    That rose looks amazing for being so old, and I can tell that its worth exceeds that of a diamond. What a beautiful symbol of the heart you’ve shared life with for so many years, and how sweet you can take daily walks to reconnect with that past. Write on!

    • shirleyhs on May 7, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Sharon, I too was amazed when I found the rose among the scrapbooks in “the box in the basement.” It lasted much longer than I could have imagined living back in 1967.

      Thanks for your encouragement. I think new things are happening in your life, too? I’ll go see what you’ve been writing about.

      All best!

  7. Sherrey Meyer on May 7, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Shirley, you’ve certainly caused me to stop and ponder moments like yours to see if any have happened in my life. And there aren’t many, but one does stand out for me this morning. When Bob and I chose to marry, our finances were rocky and didn’t allow major spending on gifts and even on rings. One night when we were out for dinner, Bob reached in his coat pocket, slipped out a small, square package, larger than a ring box but smaller than a tiara. 🙂 Inside was a 4×6 plaque with this quote from Shakespeare:

    “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep;
    the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”

    That small plaque to some today would seem insignificant due to its cost and size. For us it meant the beginning of forever after. It has hung on our bedroom wall now for nearly 34 years. To me it means the world and more!

    Thanks for jogging the old noggin this morning!

  8. shirleyhs on May 7, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    That story brought tears to my eyes, Sherrey. Your love language is words, and Bob was intuitive enough to know that. Of course you hung that plaque on your bedroom wall, and now all of us will see those words anew.

    So glad to jog the noggin. That’s a real tribute to a writing prompt. Thank you.

  9. Laurie Buchanan on May 7, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Shirley — I love, Love, LOVE you and Stuart’s story. THANK YOU so much for sharing it with your readers.

    And while I haven’t physically preserved any items for remembrance, my “signature” is concision — sharing a big idea in a small way.

    • shirleyhs on May 7, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      I would expect this answer from you, Laurie, minimalist par excellence! After returning from sabbatical, and joining my mailing list and my blog subscribers, I am weighing every word. I want to learn from your Tuesdays With Laurie example. Share a big idea in a small way! Thanks for being my teacher.

  10. Karen on May 7, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    One of our first “dates,” consisted of my bringing dinner ingredients to Ken’s humble apartment and cooking dinner for the two of us. At some point during the dinner preparation, he spontaneously called me “Princess.” That really got my attention, I must say! To this day, 32 years later, he still calls me “Princess.” That is the way he tells me I am special, and it always gets my attention.

    • shirleyhs on May 7, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      Karen, how wonderful that your terms of endearment have lasted 32 years. I can tell how “magic” that moment was for you because of the detail. I can see you in that place, wanting to make a wonderful meal and then thrilled by that special name Ken gave you. Thank you for leaving a comment here. It’s always exciting to approve a new comment.

  11. Erma Martin Yost on May 7, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Shirley, I too have preserved things from 1967. It was in the spring of that year that Leon and I first met in NYC, when a group of six people who had never met before, three men and three women, ate dinner together in Chinatown. Leon and I sort of pared off that evening and before it was over ended up in the West Village, strolling the streets, stopping at a coffee house, and finally a small store front to make “spin art,” a hip (or was it hippy) thing in that time and place. A 5” x7” piece of poster board was placed on a turntable and while it spun, one would drip paint onto it. We each went home with one image. Leon and I did not meet again until three years later when once again, while living in NYC, friends insisted we meet each other. That time things progressed to marriage in 1972. Fast forward to 2007 when we put our house on the market that we had lived in for 33 years. While sorting possessions for the big retirement move we each found our piece of “spin art” that we each had saved and valued, but never knew the other had done the same. Today we hardly call these items art, but we do consider them treasures.

    • shirleyhs on May 7, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Wow, that must have been an exciting discovery, Erma! You know the feeling I’ve been trying to convey in these recent posts — the instant access now to the feelings of attraction in the past through many layers of time. Thanks for sharing that great story. I love the idea that your keepsakes don’t have to be art in order to be treasures!

  12. Donna Sommers on May 7, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    When we announced our engagement on Valentine’s Day in 1963 I quoted a poem to Dana. The next year I quoted the poem again instead of purchasing a card. This has become our tradition. When he asks me how I can remember it after so many years I tell him I memorized it with my heart.

    • shirleyhs on May 13, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Donna, sorry it took so long to respond. When you get today’s blog post, you will know what I was doing. Life was turned upside down last week.

      A poem hidden deep in the heart is a wonderful gift. Some of us use tangible symbols, but all of us are aiming for the place where your poem resides — the eternal heart of love.

  13. Kathleen Pooler on May 13, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Shirley, what a beautiful symbol of the lasting love you and Stuart have shared all these years. I’m amazed how well-preserved and colorful it is and I love the story behind it. When I reflect back on treasured items, I think of the delicate gold cross Wayne gave me the year I was diagnosed with cancer. He’s not even Catholic but he had it blessed by a priest because he knew how much that would mean to me. It became a symbol of faith,love and hope that carries me through everyday. Thank you for prompting this memory!

    • shirleyhs on May 13, 2015 at 11:20 am

      How well knows you, Kathy. I remember your cross. It seems so much part of who you are. Now that I know that Wayne gave it to you while you were fighting for your life, and that he took it to a priest, I am deeply touched. You must have been touched much more deeply by the healing presence of your faith and your loving husband here on earth. Thanks for sharing this story. I’m reading it as I listen to the funeral service I describe in today’s blog post. Makes it doubly moving. So glad you are still able to cherish life –and you do it so well.

  14. […] is the date who found the corsage I […]

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