Nannie’s Roses

Nannie would do it here, I think.


And probably right here.


This one could use it too.


With new clippers in hand I trimmed spent flower stems from sad looking rose bushes in the backyard. These were nothing like the ones my grandmother used to grow. When I was a child Nannie had dozens of healthy rose bushes vibrantly blooming in the yard around her farmhouse. I don’t think she had purchased a single one of them.

Some may have been given to her by friends, but most she had rooted herself. Usually people admire the gift of a flower arrangement for days until the flowers fade and are thrown away. Not Nannie. Almost upon arrival, flower arrangements of any kind and especially those containing roses were dismantled, clipped, stripped, dipped in rooting powder and plugged into her rooting bed. Some months later and voila! One more rose bush for her yard or to give to someone “down at church”.

As a child it seemed a miracle to me that short thorny sticks with a few wilted leaves could become anything at all. I said so to Nannie, remarking that I thought it a miracle and asking how she could be sure they would grow. She agreed it was a miracle and said she was never sure they would grow; she had faith they would grow.

Nannie’s faith was the backbone of her existence. I’ve never known a more faithful Christian than my grandmother. She didn’t preach about what should be done, she shared her faith showing what could be done. A true teacher by example. Oh sure, she often asked why I hadn’t been in Sunday School the week before, or said if I went to church the next Sunday she’d sit with me, and other guiding comments any grandmother would make but she had a way of weaving her suggestions and lessons into everyday conversations. We had many good and deep conversations while working in her rose beds, most of them about the importance faith and family played in her life.

I’ve never claimed to be a good Christian. Actually she never made that claim about herself either, being a modest woman, but to everyone else she certainly was. All who met her were struck by the love she had for her family and her endless solid faith in God.

Nannie died twenty five years ago. Only twice in my life have I attempted poetry and both pieces were written about her shortly after her death. I reread this poem after all these years and had to smile. Economy of words has never been my forte when writing but I had to get it out, I suppose. With few alterations I’ve included it below.

I’m solid in my own beliefs and thankful that a remarkable woman, who happened to be my own grandmother, was there to guide me in such a way that I learned early on about the power of faith and importance of family. But this poem isn’t about me and my beliefs or love of family as much as it is about Nannie and my respect for the lifelong commitment she showed to hers.



Nannie’s Roses


I loved helping Nannie

With her roses. One day

She tried telling me something

That went sort of this way:


“I like watching things bloom,

Not just flowers, you know.

With the right sort of touch

You make anything grow”.


People and roses,

She told me that day,

Both need some training

To grow the right way.


“Sometimes they ramble

To grow where they could,

But it’s for me to see

That they grow where they should”.


And I knew she meant us

For as everyone knows,

Each one in her family

She considered a rose.


She rooted us strongly.

We were tended and groomed.

Then she’d smile as she waited,

She knew we would bloom.


She said “Family and roses

Were trained by my hand.

The old ones grew tall

And learned how to stand.


My younger ones now

Are not quite so tame.

Their blooms may be different

But I love them the same.


And I know with some work

And the help of my hands

They’ll grow as the others

And with them they’ll stand”.


“But these older ones now,

Still need help today?”

I asked and she said,

“No I’ve shown them the way.


I’ve given them love

And plenty of room.

They’re on their own now

To grow and to bloom.


For both family and roses

There does come the time

To depend on their own strength

And let go of mine.”


Now we and the roses,

Alone we all stand.

Sadly she’s gone

With her strong guiding hand.


Each a rose in her garden,

We were guided with love.

Now she’s watching us bloom

From somewhere above.


As we bloomed in her garden,

We’re all sure somehow,

That she’s a rose blooming

In His garden now.


Stuart M. Perkins



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124 responses to “Nannie’s Roses

  1. Thank you for sharing this poem, Stuart. I suspect there are many of us who have faithful grandmothers to thank for many of our blessings today due to their prayers and guidance. I was fortunate to have two wonderful grandmothers, both women of faith. Thankful!

  2. Thank you for your story. It reminded me of my own grandmother who was a gardener and loved roses. Your poem is also lovely! I have been writing stories about my own childhood and gardening adventures if you would like to check them out on my blog.

  3. How beautiful Stuart. Thank you for sharing this. I to miss my own Grandmother and her garden of wisdom.

  4. A wonderful story, and a beautiful poem too. I bet your Nannie would have loved it 🙂

  5. Beautiful, Stuart. Thank you.

  6. Joy

    Loved the story and the poem! I was raised by a “Grama” who gardened and could seemingly grow anything. She went home years ago to work in God’s garden, I look forward to seeing her again. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Joy

    Thank you Stuart. Your story reminded me of my “Gram”. She raised me up. She grew everything outside, including chickens, cows, vegetables, fruit and flowers. Like your poem…she taught by example and she prayed. And when you were grown she let you go.

    Shortly before her death I heard a Dottie Rambo song about “Gathering flowers in a better land.” As I walked up the stairs for the last time, after her funeral, I looked out over the large flower garden and remembered. Blessed be her memory to those of us who loved her.

  8. I love your story and your poem. My mother was like her in that she could make anything grow. She was always snipping off a leaf from someone’s plant and then growing one of her own. I love gardening as well and your poem reminds me that I need to do this with my grandson. He loves plants too.

    • Well, I thank YOU. I love to write but none of us can never know if anyone is reading the stuff once we write it! You’ve always been encouraging and supportive and I appreciate that, very much. Thanks again.

  9. June Johnston


  10. that’s beautifully written. your nannie sounds like a very wise woman.

  11. Excellent. Its a beautiful poem . Lessons of faith are always nurtured at tender age.Once rooted firmly and wisely roses/family blooms.An inspiring tale sweetly told.

  12. Beautiful. How fortunate you had such a hands-on grandmother. sd

  13. This is a wonderful story and very sweet poem, thank you, and thank you for following my blog or I would never have found yours!

  14. Thank you for following my blog Stuart and I have to say that was a beautiful poem in memory of your nanny.

  15. My mother died April 4th, 2016. At the age of 27 I am now the matriarch of my family. The past seven months have been confusing and painful. I’ve gotten better. I have more good days now. I smile more. I actually feel genuine happiness and I don’t feel guilt for feeling it because I know my mom wants me to be happy and to keep going. She told me before she died that she was proud of me and that she loved me and those words have been the life line that I’ve held onto with a death grip to see me through this storm.

    Your poem touches something inside me because I see so much of her in your words. She loved me and my brothers. She let us grow into ourselves. She let us make mistakes and learn from them and when we stumbled in life she was there to help us stand back up again. She was always guiding us, never forcing us. She taught us to be strong and honorable. She taught us that trying was more important than being successful and that failure wasn’t a bad thing.

    My mom was an amazing person. Your Nannie sounds like an amazing person, too. I think they would have gotten along.

    Thank you for sharing your poem and your stories. I appreciate you.

  16. Forty years ago my husband and I moved to a house with a naked front yard in the city. We had little money but a lot of hope. We did the snip, dip and root, just like your Nanny did, but with some city park rose clippings (with a little guilt over their source). To this day that spot has a bed of prolific bloomers every summer when we drive by . Beautiful story, beautiful poem. Thank you, Stuart.

  17. “the old ones grew tall, and learned how to stand”
    “there does come the time, to depend on their own strength, and let go of mine”

    beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time, ❤

  18. X X X Absolutely a fine tribute you are to her.

  19. Thank you for penning such a wonderful tribute. I, too, had a female mentor, my aunt and godmother, who was such an inspiration to the entire family, though she wasn’t a gardener or even a good cook. Aunt Ruth, however, was an inspiration to so many of us , just because of her witness of a faithful, caring Christian life.

  20. That was just beautiful! You can tell how much your grandmother loved her family, and how much you loved her. And she seemed to be a very wise woman.

  21. Enjoyed the read. Great insight!

  22. Weirdly I bought some yellow roses yesterday that reminded me of my grandad, this is a wonderful reminder of faith and love

  23. Beautifully written and a heartwarming tribute 🙂

  24. ginleew

    Beautifully written! Most definitely tugged at my heartstrings! Great work!

  25. This is a beautiful, poignant piece. Memories of those loved are precious and what better way to cherish a memory than through the weaving of words from the heart x

  26. This post brought a smile on my face, Stuart. You and your grandma really had mutual love for each other. And thank you for following my blog. It’s an honour. I shall try and keep up with your posts to the best of my ability. 🙂

  27. Beautiful! I love her personality.
    I love what she said
    “I like watching things bloom,
    Not just flowers, you know.
    With the right sort of touch
    You make anything grow”.

  28. Enjoy the read. Great Stuff..!!

  29. I really enjoyed your post! Great poem 🙂 I miss my grandmother greatly as well. Some people are treasures, and for you, I think your grandmother was one of yours!

  30. So many feelings that I didn’t realize I needed to feel. How warm. Thank you for this.

  31. Stuart, thank you for sharing Nannie with us! The wisdom with which grandparents love us is something we all can try to emulate in our lives-constant, accepting, non-judgmental, believing in the goodness at other’s core, always seeing with the eyes of faith. They truly have the power to change our world, often times in quiet and unassuming ways.

    And as a person who writes to work out my life’s challenges, I especially loved this line: “Economy of words has never been my forte when writing but I had to get it out, I suppose.”

  32. It’s strong and beautiful as a solitary rose that has been lovingly and perfectly pruned. Your Nannie would love it!

  33. This is amazing and beautiful (:

  34. Thanks for the blog follow & the inspding story! =)

  35. A fine poem Stuart, that honors not only your Nannie, but all those full hearts that have cared for us in their unwavering strength.
    For me, it was Pop Pop. A man after whom I have modeled my own grandparenting. A high bar for which I always strive.

    Seek peace,


  36. ninakoistinen

    I love this! It’s beautiful and sweet. And so true! reminds me of many different relationships in my life! Very touching!:)

  37. A lovely poem and a lovely tribute your grandmother.

  38. I read this with tears streaming down my face! My Nana left our family 10 years ago, but her life has left an incredible impact on mine. My Nana wasn’t a gardener- she never could keep a plant alive- but she was the matriarch of our family, and changed the heart of everyone she met.

  39. I admire your nanny! Such a wonderful story. ✨

  40. arinuckptl

    Reblogged your beautiful, beautiful poem on my blog! Thank you for sharing!!

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