The Miracle of the Christmas Rose

May 5, 1965(?)

This story begins about the end of February when Dr. Skinner and I returned for the Manitoba Horticultural Association’s annual meeting in Brandon. He had picked up a bit of cold there and shortly after returning home he became ill enough to visit a doctor and spent several weeks in the Russell Hospital. When he returned home he was very weak and walking was difficult so he sat!

The snow was deep, it was cold and I guess to him he must have thought his useful life was about to end.

Spring arrived eventually and as usual for Dropmore it was a bit late. Margaret and I had always remembered his birthday and as May 5 approached I discussed with her that the usual remembrances did not seem very appropriate. I decided that I would take time out to try and persuade Dr. Skinner to get into the wheel chair and I would take him out to his greenhouse and garden. I thought that this might take 10 or 15 minutes.

It took some persuading on the part of your mother and I to get him convinced that he should go out, particularly in a wheel chair, but he finally consented and away we went.

Now it was spring and there was still snow about and pushing the wheelchair was a real challenge. We were only a short distance when we came around to the rear of his greenhouse where he spotted the Christmas Rose in bloom.

I assume that for 60 years he had been envisaging this event and that day it happened. There was no stopping him except I had to push him! He suddenly wanted to see everything in the garden. What started as 15 minutes turned into an hour. I finally convinced him that I had to attend to other things and back he went to the house.

The next day I returned to consult on a business matter and found him outside hopping along with a bachelor chair. Very slowly but nevertheless doing more than he had done for 2 months.

A few days later he had given up the chair and was slowly regaining his strength when he called me to come to the house. He had requested me to have a bed dug up and that I was to bring a flat of lily scales from the main greenhouse down for him to plant.

When the bed was ready I brought the flat down and he asked me to leave it in a specific spot. I asked if he wanted help and his response was negative.

I left and went back to the office but my curiousity got the better of me and the first chance I got I returned.

By this time the ground had dried up and he was flat on his stomach digging shallow trenches with his hand and planting the lily scales.

Within a few weeks he was completely back to normal and enjoyed another year of reasonable health.

The most vivid part of this event to me was the reaction to seeing the Christmas Rose in bloom. All his energy returned to his body at that moment. It was like a miracle, only the vision was real!

P.S. I never thought of it before but I am sure your mother must have heaved a sigh of relief on that day also.

Hope you enjoy this little piece of your father’s life.


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