Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Rose in winter

I walked out one February morning
to pluck a winter rose.
So perfect.
Yet the heart
was frozen
velvety petals
folded on crystal
solid as stone
on that day, in the pale
Saturday sun.

Crimson petals, fragile
as they thaw and fall
wither and blacken.
The memory remains
and breaks my heart.
I catch them in a porcelain dish
to keep forever
to remember this day.

Fifty four years ago - 8th February 1958 - it snowed on our wedding day. Bitter cold as I stood in my long white wedding dress, Raymond holding my hand so tight. We have survived so much together since then, he and I; and now comes change, and something I find difficult to write about. Something was wrong; I could not detect quite what it was; it crept up on us unawares. But now we know. After three months of increasing illness and symptoms I will not divulge, he at last went to the doctor, and two weeks ago was diagnosed with diabetes type two. It was such a shock, to see this dear and strong, clever man so vulnerable. In his 80th year, we could not expect that he could always continue all the building works and heavy tasks that have been his way of life.

Early October, caravanning at Malvern; happy days
We learn that diabetes type two is treatable with tablets, diet (eat less) and exercise. Today he was told to increase the daily dose of pills. And I discover that he has suspected what was wrong since the summer, or perhaps even earlier, and ignored it. Many odd moments suddenly fell into place. Casual comments about wanting to go on a 3-week trip to Europe "because it would be the last long tour he would do." And booking it. Casually looking for a motorhome that we could both drive to share the travelling. Falling asleep and having no energy; and so on. We are not the first couple to discover that one's whole life has been turned upside down, or that we need to make adjustments. We're picking up the pieces. What will be will be.

But as I was picking another 'Othello' rose in my wild front garden this winter's morning, to give to my beloved with early morning tea tomorrow, I noticed that again its heart was frozen. You could see the ice, like crystal, between the folded petals. Dark thoughts. This rose flowers all winter, hanging its heavy head. 

And that is how I feel right now: head hanging and heart frozen. I am captured in a time-warp from which I cannot escape. I would not want to do so, but the cause is exercising all of me. If you look closely at the first rose, and double-click the image, you will see the ice. There is one rose left to pick this year on the bush; it is frozen, too, and will never open for it is shrivelled and too immature.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about the type 2. The rose is beautiful is spite of it's frosty center.

    As a reader from afar, I'd like to focus on the positive, and congratulate you both for 54 years of marriage - that is an incredible achievement. I suppose there are so many reasons that you might not have made it this far, but you have, and I hope I am lucky enough to some day celebrate my 54th too :)

    Warm wishes from here!

  2. I can feel your heartbreak through your words in this post! I can only imagine how this changes and unsettles everything. Sending you both much love!! Silke

  3. And ... I forgot to say ... I wish you a Happy Anniversary even with everything going on! 54 years! That's wonderful!

  4. I'm so sorry to hear about the Type 2 diagnosis - hope the tablets and lifestyle changes help. It is a big change to adjust to after all those years but you'll manage it, as you always have, together.

  5. I hope that you can both find pleasure in this special day, despite your recent heartbreaking news. Congratulations on your 54th Anniversary. No mean achievement!

    We all dread some fundamental change to the pattern of a well lived life. Hoping that the treatment will enable your dear husband to feel much better very soon and to carry on enjoying life with you.

  6. Firstly, congratulations on 54 happy years together. I loved your poem about the frozen rose too.

    You are in shock, just yet, about the Diabetes, but it IS treatable, and I am sure you will both soon adjust to the changes it brings. It is always frightening to have mortality thrust in your face though. (((Hugs.)))

  7. Dear Ann...such a beautiful and poignant description of a couple's path through life. I can relate with this in my own marriage. Thank You for sharing so honestly... Congratulations on your many years together!

  8. Dear Ann,
    I am sorry for the unbalanced place you are in just now, but know you will come out on the other side after you can take it all in and adjust. I admit to my heart freezing as I was reading because I was afraid it was something much worse (taking care of a mother with Alzheimer's will do that).

    So I wish you both well and congratulate you on the blessing of so many years together and wish you many happy returns of wedding anniversaries and simple everyday days.

  9. Best wishes from me and thinking of you both!

  10. Congratulations on 54 years together. May the coming year be filled with blessings for you both.

  11. This is difficult; life-changing; surely a cold hand gripping one's emotions. We may know something about our genetic predisposition to a particular malady, may even have taken preventive measures, but I think the reality can never be underestimated in impact. Then too, we are so often over-taken by an illness or disability which we couldn't have predicted.
    I have seen this blight of frost in some of my flowers--buds that look promising but cannot bloom properly as the weather is too cold. Your poem suggests both the strength and the delicacy of these winter blooms.
    J. and I are a few years behind you and Raymond age-wise, but old enough to be seeing some changes and wondering how our sunset years will be. We do what we can in the way of wise choices and hope for the grace to accept what cannot be changed.
    I offer congratulations on your anniversary and send thoughts of courage for meeting your new challenge.

  12. 54 , that is almost as long as my life. ( 56) May you be blessed with walks, good healthy food, and see the sun rising every day in gratitude. Hold hands.

  13. Happy Anniversary!
    From what I've read this is treatable, and able to be lived with. Thank God it is not something much, much worse.
    A rose in February. Amazing. October is probably the latest I'd see one here.:<)

  14. Ann, you have such away of drawing me into your writings. I love that you have spent so many years with the dear man that seems to have captured your heart. I too have a dear gentle husband that two years ago was found to have diabetes two. He was put on insulin and medications, but in the last year he as lost 60 pounds (a pound a week) and has cut his insulin in half. His doctor is so impressed and says that if he will just start exercising, he could be off his medications in another year. So never give up, just start cutting out the fats and biscuits. This ended up being a wonderful thing for us, because catching it and knowing what to do, is what will get you back into a health life style. I'll be praying that you have many, many more enchantingly romantic years ahead of you. You are an adorable couple, your newest follower, Connie

    1. Connie, How kind of you to send such a helpful message - and to be following my blog, which I hope you will enjoy. Your advice and kind thoughts are so welcome. Thankyou.

  15. I came by because VP had shared something on FB..... I think we very briefly met at Malvern one year (I used to write Garden Hopping). At the time we met, I had recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes too, the result of some of the drugs from the cancer treatment I had recently undergone.

    What I wanted to tell you was, that once you have adjusted to the new regime, sorted out the diet and got the blood sugars back under control, and keep them that way - it isn't so bad. You learn to cope and accept the changes it brings. Things do get better x

  16. Dear Ann: I just found your blog today (both of them, actually, the art one and this one) and am immensely enjoying reading them. I am sorry to hear about your husband's diagnosis. I have Type II Diabetes also. I was diagnosed in my mid 40s. Unfortunately I need to stick to a very stringent diet, but it has resulted in my not needing to take the pills any longer. I'm still taking the pills because to be without them makes me nervous. I should get more exercise than I do (I get virtually none). But I know what a terrible shock the diagnosis can be. I've had days where I didn't want to go on because I hate the disease and what it has done to my life. I've always had quite the sweet tooth! But I have gone on...and I just wanted to let you know my story. I hope it helps you to feel better.

    Change is never easy. Especially the sort of change that affects one's health. Bless you, Ann, and bless R too.

  17. Happy Anniversary! Your husband is so lucky to know you, and vice versa I'm sure...thanks for sharing the good with the not-so-good. very brave.