Spring and summer come earlier to southern California (sorry about that) and right now there are lots of roses — especially yellow ones — all over the neighborhood. I have a special memory of yellow roses — my father used to buy them for me for Valentine’s Day. Always, from when I was a little girl until I went away to college.
And while I thought they were pretty and appreciated the sweet gesture, quite honestly, I never understood why he chose yellow roses.
My dad passed away suddenly when he was much too young (48) and I was much too young (19). He had packed a lot of love for me into the too-few years, the yellow roses being just a small part of that love. In the midst of my life moving on, I stopped wondering about the “why” of those particular flowers. I forgot all about it.
Until one day, thanks to WCBS-FM 101.1 radio in New York. At that time, the radio station played oldies from the ’50s and ’60s. (By the way, is it just me who finds it strange that today’s oldies stations consider music from the ’80s and ’90s oldies? When did that happen?). Anyway, I had the station on in the background one day when I heard Bobby Darin singing “18 Yellow Roses,” a hit from 1963.
The lyric talks about a man whose daughter receives 18 yellow roses from her boyfriend; the father realizes then that his daughter is all grown up now (she’s 18), and that he is no longer the only man in her life. The final lyric struck me into why-yellow-roses awareness:
“Eighteen yellow roses will wilt and die one day…
But a father’s love will never fade away.”
Oy. Cue the tears, the box of tissues, the understanding. My dad had been a huge music fan — Sinatra, Ella, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Lena Horne. (Listen to some of these artists if you’re not familiar with their work. Or listen again if you are.) He knew the Darin song, he knew the lyric, he knew the sentiment and the abundance of fatherly love it expressed. And he knew that he wanted me to know it.
Thanks, Dad, I knew about the love all along. I also know that yellow roses now always make me smile.
Coincidence? I think not.
ⓒ 2016 Claudia Grossman