So Much More Than The Herb of the Year


“God gave us a memory so that we might have roses in December.”- James Matthew Barrie
“God gave us a memory so that we might have roses in December.”
– James Matthew Barrie

The rose, such a beautiful flower with its simplistic style, soft petals and rich hues. It’s subtle fragrance will kiss your nose. It’s a symbol of love, perseverance and good wishes. It knows how to offer itself protection with its prickly thorns. It’s splendor comes in all forms, whether a small bud blooming with magnificence or as luscious petals caressing your palms. It is flawless, timeless and dances on gracefully regardless of the changing elements.

There is no wonder why my beloved grandmother’s name was Rosa. When my Nonna, Nonna gave birth to her back in 1923 in Sicily, I can only imagine she saw the same loving grace so eloquently present in this flower when she first laid eyes on her babe back then. My Nonna and to others Rosa, was all these things and more.

Today she would have celebrated her 89th Birthday. Today we would have called her to wish her a happiest of days and she would have sung to us instead. Today we remember her love, grace and strength. Today she is more than a memory. Today she celebrates in heaven looking down upon us. Today she is our angel. Forever and always, a memory preserved in our hearts like the rose who has undergone floral preservation.

In July of 2011, my dear Nonna, introduced us to the OC. I would love to be telling you she had a senior moment and made off to Orange County for a lift, pinch and tuck, but that was not the case. What I can tell you is cancer should be a four letter word. Ovarian Cancer is like a pesticide injuring a delicate rose.

When we were told of the news, she was not given much time and at her graceful age, the doctors could not prescribe a temporary fix, magical pill or surgery that could stop the spread of the cancer. Many of us took the news initially hard and fearful. I decided to not let, what should be a four letter world, take control over my thoughts. I knew our time together was narrowing closer to gone so I spent as much time with her as I could.

She loved my boys and my how they kept her giddy. She was always looking for a reason to act silly, dress in a costume or just be herself. Her great grandchildren brought the inner child out in her. All six of them. We are so very blessed to have had her a part of our lives during so many cherished moments.

From walking in a cap and gown to prom and walking down the aisle to delivering our first-born, Nonna was a part of it all. Oh the things we made her do. Yet, she loved being part of every adventurous moment. There was no holding this little lady back. Nothing, not even that four letter word.

The doctors expected maybe 3-4 weeks, our Nonna gave us six months. She gave us the greatest gift, the holidays. There was Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, her 88th Birthday, Christmas, New Year’s and my Birthday. Eleven days into the New Year after all the Holiday events wrapped up and the days starting getting longer again, she left her place here on Earth.

Her descent towards the winter sky was with all her family and friends close by her side. My sincere gratitude goes out to the Hospice staff who nurtured her pain and settled our thoughts. These are truly amazing people who do this day in and day out. Amazing really. Spending her last few days with her was completely healing in the strangest sense to some.

Although she wasn’t verbally communicative, I could feel and hear every word she was telling me. She told me to love my boys by guiding them into manhood and raise them the way I would want to be treated by a man. She told me to live for today and never stop reaching for my dreams. She told me never to give up or let a medical diagnosis stop you from living. That each day is a gift so treat it that way. Prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God. That a belief in a higher power, whatever that may be, is more powerful than our life here on Earth. One of her last non verbal words to me came through her gaze, as she turned to me she said, I will always be with you.

rose_in_snow_-_mammoth_lakes_dec_2003_2-24_tmb[1]She has kept her promise the past eleven months because I feel closer to her now than ever. I can still call her and yes she does respond. In fact, just the other day I was running in the park, thinking and reflecting and I ran right past a bright red sign. There on the lightly snow-covered trail were three red roses, just lying there on the ground. If I had not been present, I would have missed the opportunity to stop and smell the roses. Literally.

So it is only fitting that the herb for this year goes to the Rose. Selections are made based on the herb being outstanding in at least two of the three major categories: culinary, medicinal, or ornamental. Hands down as she was three out of three in the person form. Check out the award specifics here

Death should not be feared but embraced. I mean we are all going to end up there someday. Until then, live each day like it is our last. Spend time with the ones you love and doing the things that enliven your spirit and enrich your soul.

Like a skyscraper carefully engineered, the beams go up to the sky one by one. Each layer building upon the other like the years of our lives. Some layers are precise and others imperfect, yet each layer leads to the structures uniqueness. It will sway naturally, without crumble to adjust to the ever-changing elements. It will stand strong in the toughest storms, shine on through the night and embrace each and every sunrise and sunset. Then one day it will leave it’s outer form and beauty and ascend to the highest point of it’s being. It will look down onto the earth, its only home it ever knew and the people who were part of its exterior and interior and then when the journey is complete, it will ascend into the sky like a balloon with lace wings.

Happy Birthday Nonna and today we celebrate all things you, Rosa, my herb of the year too!

Photograph taken from International Herb Association (
Photograph taken from International Herb Association (

11 thoughts on “So Much More Than The Herb of the Year”

  1. Absolutely beautiful! Your nonna was always such a joy to be around! I loved visiting with her when I had the opportunity at gatherings. I am sure she is having the best birthday bash in Heaven with all our families and friends. Happy Birthday!
    Thinking of you and your family today! Xoxo

  2. That was a beautiful read. How lucky you are to have been able to share part of life’s journey with Nonna. It reminds me of someone who said you shouldn’t cry because you have lost someone you love, you should smile because you had the priviledge of knowing them.

  3. A beautiful way to remember and cherish the people we love, and whose lives impact us so deeply. I saw a gentle reminder to appreciate each moment – lovely.

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