As they pulled away from Natural Springs Nursery the reprogrammed voice gave them the news. You will reach your destination in five hours and eleven minutes. William looked back over the seat and gave the secured flower one last check before pulling onto the empty country road. "Dad, I know you and mom came here a long time ago, but how did she get that flower here without you or me knowing? And she cultivated it in her garden? I don't remember her with a special rose, do you?"
Henry thought for a moment before answering. "Truth is I became so busy with work over the last few years before I retired I didn't pay much attention to her garden. I should have, but the garden was her thing. I just enjoyed the beauty of the flowers and never paid much attention to how much time your mother spent tending them. I would watch her from inside the house. I guess I should have ventured into the garden to see what she was doing. As for how the flower got to Natural Springs Nursery, well I think when we get home your wife might know something about that. Remember last summer those two wanted to take some time to go shopping in the outlets in Martinsburg. They could have made a detour though the mountains and left the flower there. But still how did she know this place existed to keep special roses and why did she want us to take it to this Whispering Breeze place?"
William looked at his dad as he said, "Well I guess we'll find out when we get there." As they followed the direction of the stoic voice from the GPS, the country around them became deeper with snow. The wide rolling hills of the eastern part of the state seemed to close in and grow taller as they entered the back roads of the southern mountains. Henry could tell by his son's face he was becoming concerned about their travel into this seemingly empty country. Finally William asked, "Are you sure we programmed the GPS correctly? It's been a while since we saw signs of civilization." As he finished his words, Henry pointed towards the glow of lights on the steep snow-covered hillsides just ahead. When they came around the turn in the road they saw their destination, Whispering Breeze Conservatory.
The valley opened into a large meadow and at the foot of the mountain was a brightly lit building. It looked like a place from a Victorian fairy tale. Large porches and high windows seemed to make up the outside of the beautiful building. As they drew closer they could see on the back side an enormous green house with large glass panels that glowed in the near darkness with warm light from within.
As they drove up to the front porch a couple came immediately to welcome the arrivals. Each smiled warmly as they waited to greet their guest. Henry opened his window, as he did the man said, "Welcome, may I have you and your wife's name?" He hesitated for a moment before answering, "Henry and Rose". The smiling man opened a large leather book which he carried and turned pages until he found what he was looking for. "Ah, yes here you are. Henry, have you brought your wife's rose with you?" Henry indicated to the man that he had. The lady was carrying a small lightweight quilt. "Please wrap this around the rose before bringing it out into the cold night air and please come into our home."
The four soon were going up the steps of the magnificent place and into the front room. William looked around and then asked, "What is this place and why has my mother sent us here?"
The man motioned for them to accompany him down a long brightly lit hallway. Along its walls were hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of couples-each perfectly framed and carefully hung. The man stopped and moved his hand as if to direct Henry and William's attention to the walls of pictures. He began to explain, "In 1847, four families were making their way west and became lost in the mountains. Winter set in and they feared all was lost. As they came into this valley they saw near the foot of the mountain the earth was still green and no snow lay on the ground. They soon discovered that from the green earth warm springs of water protected the area. This oasis hidden in the mountains saved their lives. Each realized that a divine force had guided them to this place. They understood at their darkest hours that winter that they each had been saved for a purpose. The families decided to build a place for any that may be lost in their travels. Over time they also began preserving in this sanctuary the love and memories of those lost to time."
The man pointed towards pictures hanging on the wall. "Not sure when, but somewhere in the mid-1800s folks began bringing pictures of their families here to be preserved in our sanctuary of memories." The man then directed them to a glass door at the end of the large hallway. "Gentlemen, this is our conservatory of those couples whose love shall be preserved forever." He opened the door into a large glass room filled with roses beyond the ability of man to count. The wonderful aroma was carried on the gentle breeze created as warmth from the springs rose into the conservatory's large room. The gentle breeze seemed to whisper to them as it moved among the roses. Henry walked in and began looking at the containers of flowers. Each showed the names of a man and woman surrounded by a heart.
Henry turned to the man and woman who stood silent looking at the great room of flowers. "Why?" Henry asked. The man removed the light quilt protecting Henry's rose before returning it to him, "Please come with me" he said. The four walked some distance into the large room to an open spot in the countless rows of flowers. A small tag with two names written on it sat in the opening, Henry and Rose. The man turned to Henry, "Your wife arranged long ago for your flower to be kept for all time in this place as a sign of your lasting love. We also will place on the walls the picture of your family to be preserved along with the others. Our family has for generations repaid the gift of life when they found this place. Here we have chosen to preserve memories of lives filled with love and here we will preserve your wife's endless love for you." The man picked up the tag and indicated for Henry to place his rose among the others.
William, who had said nothing for several moments, placed his hand on his dad's shoulder. "Dad, do you know what tomorrow is?" Henry shook his head, he did not know. William answered, "It is Valentine's Day, it is you and mother's favorite day." Henry hugged William and the tears they shed were warm and full of love. They now knew Rose's greatest gift was giving them the mission to bring the rose to this place. The quest may not have removed the pain, but it reminded them of the love they shared for so many years. That was her Valentine gift to Henry and William.
We remember this day with flowers and cards to the ones we love. This day is to celebrate the greatest of all things we share-love. Take the time to remember and tell the one you love how you feel and perhaps in a place where gentle breezes whisper through the red blossoms of roses your love will also be preserved as we look Thru the Lens.