Monday, May 14, 2012

The Rose of Compromise

“When the vase comes to you, select a rose that represents your Mom, one that reminds you of her.”  I survey the types and colors of roses in the vase, as it goes around the circle.  There are roses of many colors, but only one red, and I know for certain that it is meant for me to pick.  My dad always gave my mother a dozen red roses for her birthday, and she wanted no other color.  The single red rose is clearly “our symbol.” One by one, a rose is selected, and the red rose remains in the vase.  Until the woman next to me chooses.  She reaches for the red, then hesitates.  I silently ‘will’ her to choose another color. She examines another rose.  Then she goes back to the red rose, and takes it. 
I feel lost.  What other rose will do?  I take the vase from my neighbor’s outstretched hand, and I review my options.  There is a pretty pink rose that would be my daughter’s choice.  There’s a gorgeous coral rose that would be my choice.  And there are some white roses.  I select one of the white roses.
“Write down how this rose represents your mother.”  Hmmph.  “It’s not red!” I write.  I consider more thoughtfully the rose I’ve chosen, and I remember that my mother loved subtle earthy colors like eggshell, beige, taupe, white, and caramel in her home décor and in her wardrobe.  There is a redeeming quality to this rose, I realize. 

“Write down how this rose represents you.”  Hmmph!!  I look over at the brilliant coral rose that I would have chosen for myself, which is now in someone else’s possession, and I think “but that’s the rose that represents ME!”  Turning back to the white rose in my hand, I consider it once more .  “This rose isn’t what either my Mom or I would have chosen,” I write.  “This is a rose of compromise.”  It occurs that that, perhaps, that’s what this rose is about.  It represents all of the compromises I’ve made in my life, trying to make her happy while at the same time trying to do what I feel is right for me. 
I study it further.  I realize that, even though it’s not what I would have chosen, I do like the rose.  The edges of the petals are curly and it looks girly.  It’s a creamy color, not just “boring old white.”  It’s opening and welcoming.  I like this flower, for its own flower’s sake, when I’m not saddling it with connotations and representations.  I think my mother would like this rose, too, as she liked to be surrounded by soothing tones. We had very different opinions on many things, she and I, and yet we always, eventually, found common ground. 

The word ‘compromise’ carries a connotation of “pleasing neither.”  It occurs, to me, however, while contemplating this particular rose, that a compromise is more about encompassing the space of shared agreement, the place where two circles overlap, than it is about defining the area of discord or dissociation.  This rose of compromise represents the space where my mother and I met on common ground.  And we still do. She is telling me that her spirit meets me where and as I am, without judgment, without disapproval.  This rose is now the most beautiful Mother’s Day gift I can imagine. 

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