Conklin: Roses, lily of the valley and honeysuckle


We all have different feelings about different flowers that have come into our lives at different times. One of my favorite flowers, Lily of the Valley, blooms around the first part of May.

There’s a song that describes them as “White coral bells upon a slender stalk…” I can remember when I picked my first Lily of the Valley. I was visiting a friend from the fourth grade, and her grandmother told me I could pick a bouquet from her yard, to give to my mother for Mother’s Day.

She had hundreds in bloom around her house. She told me they had “spread.” I had no idea what that meant, but I picked them anyway. It took both hands to hold them all. Then to top off the bouquet, she gave me a red tulip to put in the center of it.

It was beautiful and I headed for home, which was on the other side of the Olentangy River. Just before stepping foot on the bridge, a lady caught up with me and asked if she could buy those flowers from me to give to her mom on Mother’s Day. I just said “no” without even asking what she would pay me for them.

Did I turn down a dime, or a quarter or more? All I thought about was that they were for my mom.

My next flower adventure came at a prom in high school. I had been invited to the prom and was pleased when a corsage was delivered to my home. But, when I saw the flower, I was embarrassed to even wear it. I thought it was ugly mostly because it was gray. Come to find out, it was an orchid. I had no idea it might have been rare and expensive. I had a lot to learn.

When walking into a funeral home, the scent of flowers fills the air. At the funeral of a family member, the flowers gave me something beautiful to focus on when I didn’t know what to say to anyone. It was comforting to just sit and look at the beautiful colors of all the flowers.

After a service at the cemetery, it’s always nice to see people carrying a flower with them as they go walking back to their cars. At the funeral home when my grandpa died, the only remembrance I have is that it looked to me like flowers were clear up to the ceiling.

I don’t remember seeing my grandpa, just all those flowers covering the entire walls of the room. I was only five at the time.

Having a flower garden is wonderful, too. Years ago, a lady named Mrs. Barber, who had a flower garden, brought some to church every Sunday to put on the alter. From the first blossoms in the spring, right through to the last flowers in bloom before it snowed, she was there with beautiful flowers, come rain or come shine.

We have a rose bush that’s still alive, that came with our house when we bought it back in the 50s. It’s a monthly rose that blooms from May to November. However, for several different winters, it looked like it was frozen out, but when I dug down to the root, and babied it along, it lived. It has 2 buds on it as I type this today.

While writing about roses, I remember once I found one rose in a bud vase sitting on my desk at OWU. It was on the morning after the graduation ceremony back in 1984. A student who had just graduated left it for me to find. It had a note with “Thanks” on it.

I am assuming it was because of my helping him a week or so before that. When he was rushing off to catch a bus to get to his golf match, he had to stop for an appointment with a professor in our department. He set his golf bag against a chair and went to the professor’s office. While gone, two guys came in my office, picked up his golf bag and took it down the hall.

Although I was busy, I was aware of what they had done. When the student came out, he saw his clubs were gone. I knew he was desperate to catch his bus, so I showed him that his clubs had been taken to a classroom down the hall and put behind a door.

He was so grateful because it was not only an important match, but I remember it having something to do with being hired as a golf coach after graduation. He not only got to the game on time, but was hired as the golf coach at the University of Alabama.

Now he is retired and just this month, in the OWU magazine, he was listed as being inducted into the 2016 class of the Collegiate Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame. Congratulations Mr. Spybey.

The scent of honeysuckle brings back all the best memories of my childhood. Honeysuckle grew on the trellis of the front porch of the first house we lived in when moving to Delaware.

The scent of it always brings back all the good memories of my new life of living in that house on Union Street. It was 1945 and lots of good stuff was happening.

The war was over, my sister’s husband would soon be home from the Pacific, we could walk to wonderful schools, there were lots of nice people in the neighborhood, my brother, Bob, got a bike for his paper route, and best of all, for the first time, I remember feeling safe.

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

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