A Yellow Rose


I’ve gotten to the point in life that I am having to attend a lot of funerals.

It’s not exactly something that I look forward to but in some unexpected ways, they’ve become a place of comfort.

My earliest memory of Chris Dukes was hearing her high heels tap down the long hallway that lead to my daddy’s office. As she turned the corner with her boys in tow, I saw her bright red hair and even brighter red lipstick. She was wearing a white, starched shirt, black pencil skirt and sling back black pumps.

And as she stepped into the lobby area full of people waiting their turn to see the doctor, there was a sudden silence. In my childhood memory, it seemed as if everyone paused to take in her beauty; there was just something about her that commanded your attention. 

She would immediately put everyone at ease with her laughter. The boredom of the doctor’s office seemed to disappear because Mrs. Dukes and her sons had entered the room. And if she didn’t already know everybody in the waiting room, she made sure she did by the time the nurse called her name.

As I entered the church to pay my respects to this woman who made such a difference in our town, I was looking around for the rest of my family.  I wanted to be sure that we all sat together in one pew. Our mom took such pride in her family when we were all together, especially as we got older.  I don’t know how many times I caught a glance of her beaming before Mass would begin, she would look around at us all together, smile and pat our hands in gratitude.

We had once again come together to celebrate the life of our mom and dad’s special friend.

The service began and the piano filled the church with old gospel songs. And one by one her family spoke of an incredible life. She embodied hard work, compassion, kindness and grace.

The evidence of her love could be found in the words spoken so eloquently by her children and grandchildren.

When the services ended, the crowd spilled outside the church and no one was ready to leave. We were all catching up with old friends and remembering the life of someone who had touched us in so many different ways.

For an afternoon, we were all kids again, recalling stories that we thought we had long forgotten.

As we were saying our final goodbyes to the family, Dana, one of Mrs. Dukes’ sons, gave each one of my sisters a single yellow rose from her casket. He told us that he knew she would want us all to have one.

After I got back home and was unloading the car, my daughter asked me about the rose. I told her how I had gotten it from the funeral service that I had just attended. I took the opportunity to share the relationship between her grandma and Mrs. Dukes and how much the rose meant to me. I then showed her the heart shaped box where I was storing the rose petals from all the funerals that I have attended recently, her grandma, her aunt Liz and some of my very special friends.

Yellow Rose of Texas As my nine- year old daughter was trying to comprehend what all this meant, she was looking at all the different colors of the petals in the box and said, “Mom, when you add this yellow rose, you will have a colorful bouquet of flowers; pink, white, red and now yellow. It will be so beautiful.”

And she was so right.

I’ve been blessed to have a beautiful array of women in my life, each one of them helping me bloom in their own unique way.

It is inevitable that I will keep adding rose petals to my heart shaped box, but now I realize the significance of the variety of colors all coming together.

And for this, I am eternally grateful.




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  1. Jane Lane says:

    Very wise nine year old.

  2. Karla McNickle says:

    Oh Laura!! That is beautiful!!! I am really touched by this!

  3. Terri Kennedy says:

    So,so beautiful! You, Laura , are such a blessing! Love you! Keep writing and sharing. Love, T.

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