A Remarkable Rose from a Sweet Grandma

Grandma C. had 17 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.

Sylvia Crosslen became my step-grandmother when her son Howard married my mom Betty, some forty years ago. If you are fortunate enough to have a special relative through marriage, then you’ll understand when I say that it didn’t take long for me to not even think about the “step” part and just call her Grandma.


Sylvia and Orville Crosslen on their wedding day in 1933

Born in 1908, Sylvia traveled to Colorado on a covered wagon from Paris, Texas when she was eight years old and married Orville when she was 25. Grandma and Grandpa raised seven kids in a simple cabin in the Black Forest of Colorado Springs; my Pop was the youngest, and only boy. We’ve heard many stories about the family’s challenges and Grandma didn’t have luxuries, but she grew a fragrant, old-fashioned pink rose in her garden. In her later years–before she moved to the apartment–she gave a slip of the rose to my Mom and Pop, who carefully carried it back to Denver and planted it in their garden. When their rose became established, they in turn gave my sister and me a slip, and we each planted the roses in our gardens, too.


old fashioned rose

The tiny stalks take a while to get established, but soon they grow into a wild cascade of canes and leaves. Once a year, for just a week or so in June, the plant blooms with the most fragrant, extravagant pink roses you’ve ever seen.


Old fashioned rose

The roses are impossibly fat and packed with pink petals, and you can smell their sweet aroma across the yard in the morning.


Old fashioned rose bush

The blossoms last only for a day or two, and then they litter the grass with pink petals.


old fashioned roses fading

Grandma Sylvia “Jean” Crosslen passed in 2001 at the age of 93, but I’m thinking of her this week because her rose is blooming once again and putting on its extravagant show in the garden. I am grateful to have the offshoot of her rose bush here with me to remind me of her gentle spirit.


Old fashioned rose

We sure do miss you, Grandma.

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 16 books, including Small Bites, 101 Things To Do With Bacon, and BERRIES. She enjoys sharing ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, and home projects. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

17 thoughts on “A Remarkable Rose from a Sweet Grandma”

  1. Eliza, what a beautiful surprise to see My Mom and Dad when I opened facebook today, and such a nice tribute to Mom. Her flower gardens were a great joy for her, and your pictures are beautiful. She would love knowing they bloom in so many places!

    • Linda, I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing your dear mom’s beautiful roses. She was such a sweetie, and so are you! xo

  2. Awwww… what a beautiful story. You’ve made me miss my own grandmother, who was also born in 1908. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Beautiful Eliza! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story, I loved grandma’s cabin visits. I was young, but, I slightly remember her flowers. Didn’t she also grow rhubarb? Thank you again for the loving memories you generated.

    • Thank YOU, Teresa! I’m so glad you “stopped by,” and I think you are right about Grandma growing rhubarb. Such nice memories. xoxo

  4. We are enjoying our Sylvia roses too. Since someone gave Grandma her start of these roses, I’ve always wondered if they too might have come across the prairie in a covered wagon.

    • Maybe they did, and that’s why the rose is so hardy. Thank you for sharing your Sylvia rose with us, and I sure do love you. <3

  5. A remarkable rose from what sounds like a remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing! I also recently wrote a post about grandparents — they’re such a lovely and important influence on our lives: http://everydaymindfulliving.com/the-joys-of-grandparents/

  6. Dear Eliza,
    What a beautiful tribute you wrote for our wonderful Grandmother. I too remember her flowers and gardens. I remember picking “wild flowers” (even ones I wasn’t supposed to) and happily bringing her bouquets of flowers. I even put some of the flowers from the bouquets at her funeral into her casket so she would have flowers with her. I’m pretty sure she didn’t mind…. And as for the rhubarb…we used to pick it and eat it straight out of the garden. Still love rhubarb pie! It’s my favorite. You have flooded my day with memories of spending time with Grandma and Grandpa when we went to visit and wish I stayed in touch with her better in the last years of her life. I think of her often and love listening to the CD of her talking about the wagon trip from Paris to Colorado. She went through so much in her 93 years of life and it’s amazing that you have roses from her rose bush that are so beautiful! I would love to have a slip of that rose!

    • Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories, Tara. I just talked to my mom, and we are going to try and send some rose shoots back with your mom when she is here in Colorado next month. The little rose is pretty hardy and tough, and it would be so special if you got it started in your garden, too. xoxo

      • That would be wonderful Eliza! Hopefully it will survive in our rainy weather this summer so far! Thank you for posting the beautiful roses!


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