Saturday, April 12, 2014

Max and Maisie’s Favorite Rose Bush

      My grandmother, May “Maisie” Berthelson, was Brooklyn-born, Brooklyn-bred and Brooklyn-married, but she moved to Vermont with my parents right after World War II. The Thomas E. Dewey Thruway had claimed the land upon which her cherished home in Ardsley, New York was built. One of Maisie’s favorite possessions was her mother’s rose bush that always came alive in June with little blossoms that were either pink or white. Her mother, Ellen Parsons, had bought the rose bush back in the 1870’s with her first paycheck as a parlor maid.                              
    Rather than leave that beloved planting behind when her parent’s brownstone was sold, Maisie dug it up and moved it with her to the home her husband built for her on Nepperhan Avenue in Ardsley, New York up in Westchester County.  Then in the 1940’s Maisie gave the rose bush one final move to her daughter’s home in Arlington, Vermont . Her tolerant and kindly son-in-law gave her permission to plant her beloved roses in the place of honor next to the garage. He even built a small wooden fence around it and wrapped the stem in burlap late each autumn to survive the cold Vermont winters. Within one season, the rose bush was in full bloom.
   And then there was Max. Our nearest neighbors in Arlington were the Rudds who were the kindest and best people to have living next to us on our old dirt road. Mr. Rudd plowed us out when the snows fell deeply and Mrs. Rudd always remembered us at the holidays with special gifts that we loved. Whenever they stopped at our house for a visit, their beautiful brown boxer, Max, sat politely between them. Max had perfect manners, listened carefully to Mr. Rudd’s commands, but he had a thing for Maisie’s rose bush. When people were engaged in conversation, Max would slip over to the rose bush and carefully lift his leg for a quick “pee”. Mr. Rudd would correct him and Max would look sad and repentant, but the next time the Rudds came for a visit, Max would hurry over to Maisie’s treasured plant and quick take a “pee” before anyone noticed.
     My parents sold their farm in 1980 just after Maisie passed away and I didn’t bring myself to drive down our old dirt road for years after that, but wouldn’t you know it, I drove by my old house last summer and there was Maisie’s rose bush, blooming away, just where she planted it nearly seventy years ago.  The owners weren’t home so I helped myself to a few blooms just for memory’s sake. Why? I recalled that Max had died at the very old age of 15 and was buried with the Rudd’s other pets in back of their farmhouse. I stopped by to say hello to the Rudd’s grandson, now the owner of their farm, and left that bouquet of Maisie’s roses in the spot where Max was buried. Seemed a good thing to do.

Alice DiNizo was raised in Vermont in those golden years just after World War II ended. She grew up in ArlingtonVermontwhere Norman Rockwell lived at that time with his family. She swam with her friends in the Battenkill River which flowed under the covered bridge that faced his home. Moving to New Jersey over forty years ago was an interesting experience for Alice, who writes under her cat’s name, J.B. But tough old girl that she is, she’s learned to love her adopted state and enjoys writing stories about it. She also reaches into her memory and writes stories about her family and childhood experiences. She lives at the New Jersey shore with her husband, dog and cats and contributes on a regular basis to

1 comment:

Sherry Carter said...

What a sweet story! It brought a smile to my face, and a memory of rosebushes in the yard of one of my childhood homes.