Several years ago I gave my dear friend Ruthie Schmidt a bare root rose. I thought it was a great gift, something that would continue to grow and bloom just like our friendship that I so deeply cherished has grown and blossomed! Last year, Ruthie moved back to Florida and left her home and garden behind here in Old Towne Orange. The house belongs to her daughter, but Ruthie was the gardener. Her gardens were absolutely beautiful! She would bring us roses, fruit from her trees, and some of the vegetables she had grown to Country Roads. Her daughter has decided to sell her house and asked one of my dealers at Country Roads to hold an estate sale. Because Ruthie was so involved in Country Roads for so many years, Steve and Robin, who are doing the estate sale, wanted to do a preview night for just the Country Roads dealers. They wanted me to help be in charge of the event and I tried to explain to them “why” I couldn’t do it.
The house is no longer a “home” in my mind. And the “things” for sale have no meaning for me. I think I would be too heartbroken to step inside of the house. Over the past years, I have so many fond memories of Ruthie in that house. She use to host, what she called, “Operation Sell” once a month. She would invite a few people over from Country Roads that she felt would be good at contributing marketing ideas. Often Mike Escobedo attended a few meetings as well. Ruthie would sit at her desk, and the former school teacher that Ruthie once was, held our attention as we shared marketing ideas. Ruthie would have an agenda prepared for us and her daughter Susan would take notes. It was the best of times for me. Ruthie would cut out articles she found in trade publications about marketing that she felt were worthwhile and share them with us all.
After I had spoken to Steve and Robin about the estate sale and the Country Roads preview night I went home and emailed Ruthie. I told her there was no way I could go over to what was once her home, but now is just a house to me. The thought of people going through all of the things in the house and wanting better prices on them, well, that image just broke my heart. So, I sadly explained to Ruthie “why” I just couldn’t do it. I asked her for one big favor that would mean so very, very much to me. I asked her if I could have one of her rosebushes. I would have my son Bryce go over and dig it out, assuming it was okay with Susan since it is her house, and replace it with another one I would buy at a nursery. I so badly wanted my memory of Ruthie and the happy times in her garden to continue to be a reminder to me each time I saw her rosebush in my garden.
Ruthie’s reply was wonderful. She told me she knew the exact rose she wanted me to have. It is called the “Tuscan Sun”, it was the bare root rose I had given her years ago and forgotten about. That was the rose she wanted me to have and I immediately knew the exact place in my garden that I would plant it. I was very touched by the words from such a special person that Ruthie is. There aren’t many “Ruthie’s” in our world today unfortunately. We need more of them. And because of Ruthie’s gesture, each day I walk out my front door, I will see “our” rose and be reminded of the true meaning of love and friendship.