Elizabeth “Ellie” Paynter
11 Years Old, 6th Grade • Elizabethtown, KY
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses,” wise words by the French critic and novelist Alphonse Jean-Babtiste Karr (1808-1890).
Even at eleven years old, I have come to realize that life is what we make of it… the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s about searching through the garden for that one stray, resilient rose. That rose symbolizing the determined spirit of not giving up and not succumbing to loss or tragedy. It’s about loving all the seasons of life.
For me, roses are a treasured reminder of the delicacy or life. But sometimes, life is messy and painful, just as the rose’s thorns can sting if you’re not careful. The soft, velvet petals encase and protect the heart of the rose, just as our families and friends carry us through life. And sometimes, the petals fall, either from rough-handling or abandonment. Other times, it’s because the rose has been picked (and hopefully displayed in a crystal vase with lots of love and attention), and it’s at the end of its life.
Ironically the only funeral I’ve ever attended was for my great-grandmother last summer. Her casket was adorned with beautiful pink baby roses. My grandfather and uncle said they were her favorite. I remember thinking just a few days after the funeral, how that roses really do bring so much joy and promise to people, despite their thorns. And they joy from a rose can be felt in all seasons of life: My mother sends roses to new mothers and their infant babies in the hospitals. And, my father brings roses home to my momma and me on Valentine’s Day. And yet, even at the end of life, roses still bring hope and comfort to the ones left behind. I cannot think of another tangible object, other than the teachings of our Lord, which serve such an important purpose throughout ones lifetime.
Maybe it’s the thorns themselves that make the rose such a poignant symbol of so many human emotions. Perhaps it really is the thorns, in their imperfect charm and painful sting, which mirrors the human spirit, that in the good, the bad and the ugly… at the beginning and end of life and all the magical memories along the way, the rose becomes human itself .
10 years old, 6th Grade • Brooklyn, NY
In a quiet garden in Virginia lived a rose named Everleigh. Unlike all the other red roses in the garden, Everleigh had a unique appearance. She was fully white, and underneath her big curls, she had she had small streaks of pink that looked like they were painted on with a thin brush. Despite her beauty, she never thought of herself as a beautiful rose. She had always wanted to be a red rose. Something about them always seemed so splendid.
Every night, Everleigh dreamed about being sold to a person who would take her home. “Oh how wonderful! How wonderful would it be for me!” she’d say to her friends. She’ always doubt that this dream would ever come true, which is why she felt so upset most of the time.
One early morning, Everleigh was awoken by the sounds of footsteps and quiet murmuring outside the garden. “Hey wake up! I think someone’s here!” she whispered to her friend Stellar. Sleepy Stellar wouldn’t wake up. Everleigh continued concentrating on the sound of the footsteps, and she heard that they were getting closer and closer. The louder the noise got, the more excited she grew. Suddenly she saw a flock of people barging into the garden, looking a each rose contemplating to themselves which one they would buy.
More and more people started to come in. While there were many people willing to buy a rose, Everleigh lost hope that she would be bought. Many people stopped to looked at her, and then continued walking. That was until a lady with long black hair and glasses picked her up. “This rose is pretty! Just look at the colors! I love its pink shades! It would look wonderful in our house!” the lady said to the man next to her, which Everleigh suspected was her husband. And so, Everleigh was bought! It was the happiest moment of her life! She was grinning most of the time on her way to her new owners house. The things the lady said about her made Everleigh so happy. What made her feel even more joyful is that none of the other buyers said anything sweet to any of the red roses!
On the way home, Everleigh realized she was beautiful in a different was, and that being a white rose wasn’t so bad after all.
10 years old, 5th Grade • Brentwood, TN
Life has not been the same for me after we moved from New York to Connecticut. I miss my friend. Abby, with whom I used to have picnics, play in the sprinkler, and go swimming in the pool. However, my dad got a new job, which was a better opportunity. My heart sank when I heard the news about moving. I spent the final days worried about the new place and new people. Abby always used to comfort me when I was sad, stand up for me when I was bullied, and play with me when I was lonely. Abby was always there for me, in the first ten years of my life, but now I had to learn to take care of myself.
When mom and dad were loading the moving truck, Abby came up to me and said “You might be moving, but you will never leave my heart. Here is a little something to remember me. This rose represents something so beautiful and exciting, yet has some fault in it like its thorns. It is very exciting to move, but leaving friends is painful.” With that message, Abby handed me a beautiful rose, as red as the sunset, and as gentle as the breeze. That was the last time I ever saw her.
At a sight of the rose, I remember Abby even though I have moved on with life. One year , I decided to start a tradition of sending a yellow rose to Abby every year for remembering me and giving me an important message about life. I wanted to convey to her, though I have settled and things are busy for me, but deep in my heart I will always miss the times we spent together and most importantly with cherish the memories spent together. We soon started sending roses to each other on special days.
Both Abby and I are now thirty-five, have family and children, but we never forget to exchange roses on special occasions. Year after year, Abby and I have sent our love and message of friendship through roses, in spite of the best technologies to communicate. I feel calm, joy and a special connection taking the time to find the perfect roses for Abby Giving roses , though an ancient tradition will never fade away and can say what emails, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and other technologies cannot.
11 Years Old, 6th Grade • Dublin, CA
Her cheeks were stained with tears and her eyes were shimmering. Her mother had left her to retreat to the heavens above. She stood alone with nobody to turn to, outside the orphanage. Zarina pulled her shoulders up and it felt heavy with the burden. She pulled the rose from her flowing, brown hair and remembered what her mother had said just before she said goodbye. She looked up at the midnight moon, now twelve, and then remembered what happened this morning…
It was a fact, something Zarina couldn’t lie to herself about. Zarina’s mother had cancer. Today was the day before Zarina’s twelfth birthday. It was time to consult her mom about tomorrow’s birthday part decorations. Zarina walked into her mothers room and her mother was sitting up putting on a turtleneck. “Mom!” she yelled. “What happened?”
Her mother whispered, her voice fragile. “Oh honey,” her voice wa strained. “I didn’t want you to see me like this.” To Zarina’s dismay, her mom’s exposed neck was black. She had taken too much medication that led to her condition. “it’s time for me to go,” her mom said.
“No, mom, don’t think that way.” Zarina Stammered.
“It’s the truth and I know it hurts. Now come here so I can see you one last time.” Obediently, Zarina stepped forward and each step hurt her. She tried to stay strong, but the tears wiggled their way out. “Now listen to what I say,” her mom said as she held a rose. “This rose is just like your life. All the petals represent hope, the part in the middle is you, and the stem is your life. Maybe youll find something blocking your path but never let hope find it’s way out. The petals might drop leaving you a stem that is plain with all those thorny obstacles but, one day, a new flower will bloom. It will have new petals that are bigger than before. That day, you will shine as bright as you possibly can.” Her mother slipped the rose through her hair and kissed her cheek. Finally her hands fell and her eyes closed. That was the end. Zarina came out of her reverie feeling the rose petals. She stroked the rose, caressing it softly. One day, she thought. One day.
12 Years Old, 7th Grade • Troy, MI
The Beauteous Rose
The rose. It is an elegant and ravishing token of one’s true love; however, it is also a congenial representation of the essence of life and the pursuit of happiness.
The rose is an extremely versatile flower, and it comes in a vast array of beauteous tones; such as scarlet, crimson, ivory, pearl, yellow, peach and fuschia. The rose is also aesthetically pleasing and effortless to admire. Rose petals are elegant, ethereal and fragile and they give a very delicate facade, yet the rose is still resilient and withstanding. Although the rose’s external appearance is alluring and divine, it can’t compare to it’s wondrous essence and fragrance. A freshly bloomed rose smells deep, rich and warm with tones of freshness, youth and joy. A rose smells like the true embodiment of beauty, passion and love. Moreover, a rose is a quintessential example of the struggles and occurrences in life and it is a true lesson on perfection, glory and humility. For example, although roses have thorns that can hurt you just like the obstacles of life, if you have determination and will to achieve your goals, you will be content and radiant, similar to a rose. Roses are also a great example that nothing is perfect and even the most successful and enthralling things have imperfections. These imperfections are critical in appreciating the beauty of an object as a whole as you can’t realize how truly magnificent something is without having healthy contrast. In conclusion, roses are glorious and breathtaking flowers that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but teach a meaningful lesson on the whims and the essence of life as a whole.