"There isn't anything in the world that can brighten my day up more than the sight of flowers; no present that can bring me more pleasure or anything that can raise my spirits up so high that I could ever forget that all flowers of the earth are no less than Nature's music in the making. I love flowers and couldn't imagine a life without them any more than feeling the breeze across my face or the song of the morning bird. In short; I love the God that planted them for our eternal pleasure, I love all aspects of nature and I love my life on this earth.
My mother loved flowers also and red roses were her favourites. I remember buying her some flowers with my very first wage packet when I started work and I will never forget the look of love she gave me as she gratefully accepted them and placed them in a jam jar for display. All of her life as she reared her family in a council house on Windybank Estate, her oft spoken dream was the little country cottage that she'd one day live in with red roses growing around the porch that framed its front door. She never did manage to live in her cottage, and she and dad moved into an old folk's council flat in Liversedge after the family had all left home, but in later life, I managed to, and I also grew red roses around our front door in constant memory of her.
An old friend of mine who became a mother substitute to me after my own mother had died, named Henrietta (or Etta as she was called by friends), died in her 94th year of life. She had lived a hard existence under strict Methodist parents until they died and she nursed her bedridden mother for the last ten years of her life; being the only daughter of two children. As a young woman, Etta met a sweetheart and as she knew her parents would never approve of their relationship, she kept it secret from them. Her sweetheart (called Bill), was conscripted into the Second World War and the couple planned to marry when it was over and peace was restored once more. Etta's sweetheart died in the trenches and for the rest of her life, she mourned his loss in secret heartache. When she got very ill in her 94th year and it became clear that the end of her life was close, to avoid her going into hospital I stayed with her in her home during the final to weeks of her life. The day she died, she asked me to get her a book from a lounge cabinet and upon opening the requested page, I saw there a pressed flower, She told me sadly that this was the last flower that her sweetheart had given her and which had remained pressed between a Victorian book for the previous fifty years. As I placed it in her hands, her aching body smiled at being unified with her soldier sweetheart. I also ensured that she was buried with it.
After Etta's death, I was so taken by the tale she'd told me of her soldier sweetheart who was killed in the war that I wrote a poem in memory of all those unmarried women who grieved in secret for their lost loves who never returned from war. It was also a poem in celebration of Etta's and her sweetheart's love. It is entitled 'Arthur and Guinevere' and can be accessed by http://www.fordefables.co.uk/arthur--guinevere.html I am pleased to say that it is a favourite of my good friend, Dame Vera Lynne.
I have always loved flowers around me and when I became unable to continue heavy gardening with bad osteoarthritis in my fifties, one of my greatest past times was looking after my garden and growing all manner of flowers. I have spent many an early morning hour in the garden watching the floral sentries of peace and calm in the borders salute the awakening of the sun. I always found dawn and dusk the most peaceful times of the day that I could enjoy alone.
I have always been fascinated by the power and influence of flowers upon my prevailing moods. I cannot see a flower nestled within woodland greenery without knowing that I am seeing a little bit of heaven that has fallen to earth. Neither can I stroke and smell the delicate petal of a red rose or caress the simple daisy or buttercup in the palm of my hands without sensing that I hold infinity within my grasp. And just as Nature appears not to have intended that any flower should be fertilised by its own pollen, I am forever reminded that without our interactions with family, friends, neighbours and every stranger we encounter throughout life, we also cannot expect to bloom. It is our neighbours and those closest to us who fertilise us and bring us to full fruition. It is they who help grow the seeds that our God planted within us at our conception." William Forde: March 7th, 2017.