Neva Ross lived with her husband, Gene, three houses down and across the street from my parents’ home. A kind elderly couple who enjoyed child visitors. I made it a point to visit Neva (and Bertha, our very next-door neighbor) on their cookie baking days. Neva also, despite being in her 60s in the 1970s (Iowa being a rather conservative state at the time besides!), always donned a Halloween costume while passing out trick-or-treat candy to us kids. Her costumes, accessories, face paint were all home-done and well done. One year a chuckling witch, another year a dancing fairy. Neva didn’t just hand out candy; she entertained!
My first visit to Neva’s grave occurred in October 1995. Buried in “Evergreen Cemetery” beside Gene, on the east side of our hometown. I, devoid of any perfume or scent, went alone in a compact car with no scented air fresheners. Evergreen Cemetery has a strict decorations policy; no decorations allowed except on designated days. Thus, Evergreen Cemetery is 97% of the time headstones, grass, two curving gravel roads, and pine trees. Such was that day; no flowers, pinwheels, flags. Iowa in October is devoid of flowers or blooming bushes besides. On my way into the cemetery and while standing at Neva and Gene’s graves, I smelled no flowers of any sort; only the vague “harvest-time scents” of drying grass and cornstalks.
I paid my respects aloud. Paused a long moment in fond reminiscing. Time to go. I returned to my compact car, and was about to switch on the ignition when the car’s interior was instantly flooded with the unmistakable scent of fresh roses; as if I were sitting amidst scores of roses!
I sat there, flummoxed, wondering how could this be?
The lovely scent held perhaps 10 seconds, then quickly receded.
It occurred to me that female ghosts (in generations past) are alleged to make their presences known via floral scents, especially rose. I sat a moment, wondering if it could be; then decided to say “thank you” aloud. The rose scent immediately returned, in a swiftly strengthening wave. It held for maybe 5 seconds, and quickly receded again.
The scent was pure. Lovely. Fresh and natural. It was not cloying or overwhelming.
I drove away in a mild state of shock and euphoria.
My next visit to Neva and Gene’s graves occurred in June 2017. Same strict decorations policy (none, except a silver wind-chime tinkling in the late afternoon breeze, some distance away). And what is resting at Neva’s portion of the shared headstone but a finely crafted pink silk rose.
Cindy is a published poet who writes an average of one poem per day. She's also written five novel-length stories, is working on two others, and hopes to be an author very soon. Cindy resides in the Desert Southwest of USA with D, her husband since 1993.