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Owls & Roses

Updated: Jan 28

Boy do I have a wild and woolly woo-woo story for you!


As with most good stories, there’s a bit of history needed before we begin. This one is no different and involves the deaths of my maternal grandparents. The important details here are that I was very close to both of them, that my grandfather (I called him Bapa) died when I was about 16, and my beautiful and inspiring Granny died last year on January 11th at the ripe old age of 97.


There are many ‘strange’ things that happened around the time of Bapa’s death, including the tale about an African Violet plant. Bapa was a very planty-person with green fingers and thumbs and hands, and had given an African Violet to some friends some time before his death. A plant that never flowered, no matter what he tried, what he offered as advice, it just never flowered. And from what I have been told, he was quite annoyed by the fact that he couldn’t find a solution to this non-flowering problem.


On the day he died, that very plant flowered for the very first time.


My Gran collected owls. I’m not sure whether she started the collection herself or if she once mentioned how cute they were and her huge family all jumped on the owl-as-a-gift bandwagon, but she had quite a collection. Only natural then that owls have been our sign from her after her passing.


Before my Gran died my mother had given her a potted rose plant. Which - yes, you guessed it - had struggled to flower. Until the one year anniversary of her death, just this last January 11th, when a beautiful pink rose bloomed.


On that very day about 5 or 6 owls also decided to have a party outside one of my aunt’s houses.


A lot to think about.


Back to where I began, where things got even more fabulously woo-woo.


So last week I dropped my teen off at an appointment in Langley, and while waiting for him I decided to wander around Value Village to pass the time (VV is a big thrift store for those of you that don’t know).


I started off by choosing a few books for my bookworm of a younger son, and then moved on to wander up and down the knickknack section.


First thing I notice is a couple of owls. Boom. “Hey Gran!” I think to myself.


I look a shelf up. Kitsch pink roses. I grin to myself. Yes, there's a good chance that you're here with me right now.


I muse about how these two symbols have become such clear Granny signs and how I hadn't even noticed anything else on the shelves. I wander to the end of the aisle and see this:



Ah, this is next level! I love it! I smile again. “What next my Granny?”, turning down the next aisle to see this sign.


Now to anyone else this would just be a cute sign, tucked away on a shelf full of glasses and chipped teapots and ornaments (not signs from around the world), but to me it was like a huge cosmic slap in the face! Barberton. Not a to-be-expected and well-known London or New York, but Barberton. Ever heard of it? Nope? Well I have...not this one in Ohio, granted, but my grandparents and their 9 children lived for many, many years in a small town in northern South Africa called…yes…Barberton!!! And I spent the first 3 happy years of my life kicking up dust in that part of the world. Gobsmacked.


Gulp.

“What are you trying to tell me my Granny?” I think to myself, this is getting a little too “co-incidental” to be explained away. My eyes have just been going from one thing to another, I haven’t even seen anything else in the store. It has just been boom-boom-boom, one object seconds after the previous one.


And boom. A teapot, with a pink rose-like flower on it. And a message: “love”, “amour”.


I let out a gentle sigh and close my eyes. I’m somewhere between disbelief, a snotty tear storm, and wanting to shout out to everyone in Value Village that I’ve found a portal to the next world and we’re all so loved and everything is going to be fine.


Instead I choose to open my eyes and carry on regardless. A little shaken, I try to absorb what has just happened. My mental mind trying desperately to logic away the magic.


Pots and pans, musty clothes section, games, sports gear...I come to the furniture section of the store, half-heartedly looking around. At this point I’m in a some kind of zone, not really looking at anything anymore, just trying to pass the time until I have to pick up my teen.


And then the pièce de résistance stops me flat in my tracks. (I show my mental mind the back door and it leaves, slinking out, tail between its legs).


One of my absolutely favourite memories of when I was a kid, was my birthday party celebration at my grandparents’ house. My Gran would bake a (usually chocolate) cake, my sister and I would argue over licking the bowl, beater and spoons clean, Bapa would decorate the back of my chair with flowers - in my memory they have always been beautiful, juicy red roses. I felt like a fairy princess, loved and special - just the way a birthday girl should.


Now, back in Value Village, amongst all the wobbly office chairs and scratched wooden tables, something is staring me in the face, shouting, shouting, shouting: “What more proof do you want that we love you, we will always love you, and we are here with you. Don’t you ever doubt it for even a second!!”.


A child’s chair, the back of which has been decorated with glued on red and pink roses.





Granny & Bapa - now until forever

Dedicated to my large and sprawling Spies family and all our friend-family

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