two books, in fact:
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I know the sender was likely not someone close to me, not only because I had requested of friends not to send me flowers, but also by the wording on the message of the unsigned card:
The use of the words "Romaine's passing" as opposed to ""your mother's passing" led me to deduce that the roses were a gift from a group of people who were associated primarily with my mother but who also knew me in a secondary way. So, they knew and cared about my mom, but also cared enough about me to send me a bouquet of eighteen white roses shipped overnight from Miami, according to the shipping label,
I also thought that maybe the members of my mother's church back in Seaford, Delaware, where she lived before she came to live near me in Ohio, might have sent the bouquet. But then the description of my mom as "a sweet lady" who just "lit up a room" somehow didn't seem like the words of those who were close to my mom in the way that her church friends were. My mom was very involved with and active in her parish. She was the president of her parish's Legion of Mary and held the meetings at her house until she moved to Ohio at age 99. The Legion's statue and shrine were kept at my mother's house.
Or maybe there would have been a religious message. Because my mom was, in fact, a very religious person, her beliefs and spirituality almost bordering on those of a mystic. She had a clairvoyant streak and would occasionally hear a voice or have a feeling or a dream that would impart to her information on the state of being of someone to whom she was close, not necessarily geographically, but emotionally. She was occasionally possessed of an intuition that went beyond normal perception.
And, as I recalled in trying to ascertain the provenance of the mysterious roses, this flower did in fact have a symbolic reference in my mother's spiritual catalogue. It was her believe that if one said a novena - special prayers continued for a cycle of nine days - and if at the end of the novena one was given a rose by someone who did not know about the novena having been said, then the intention for which one was praying the novena would be granted.
I found myself wondering. Had it been nine days since my mother had died? I checked the calendar. No, she died on November 23, which was fifteen days previous. Nor had I been praying for the last nine days for anything in particular, nothing other than the same old things I'm always praying for. So there was no connection that I could see on either of those fronts.
Then I remembered that it was December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of the Holy Days of Obligation on the Catholic Liturgical Calendar. It is the belief among Catholics that the moment at which a human being is conceived is the moment at which we are imparted with a soul, and upon this soul there is the mark of sin, a mark that can only be erased by baptism. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, celebrates the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived without this stain of sin on her soul.
And so, my mother having been a devotee of Mary, I spent some time pondering whether the roses and the day on which they arrived and my mother's spiritual connection might all be interrelated.
But then I decided to climb out of that rabbit hole before I went in any deeper and accept what I could see: that all my conclusions based on my analysis of the wording of the card could be wrong and that the roses are a very thoughtful gift to me from some kind people who knew my mother and maybe knew me.
To whoever me sent the eighteen white roses and the unsigned card, thank you so much for your kindness. The roses are beautiful and arrived in tip-top shape on the day they were supposed to arrive.