a red rose

A Gift of Roses

by Tatiana Kononova

MH Magadan, Russia*

translated by Miriam Stulberg

The following story took place some twenty years ago. To this day, I think of it every autumn.

My name is Tatiana, and I live in Russia. For forty-two years, I have been teaching young children. At the time of this story, I was living in the far northern city of Magadan.

It was a cold autumn day. The lesson had already begun, when suddenly one of my pupils came late into the classroom holding a bouquet of beautiful red roses.

“Is this a special day for you?” I asked.

He said that he simply wanted to give me the roses as a gift. I was amazed. I went home after work, carefully holding the flowers and protecting them from the cold wind and early snow.

The boy’s mother was a doctor, and I thought that perhaps someone had given the roses to her as a sign of gratitude and she, in appreciation, had decided to give them to me.

I, too, wanted to share this joy with others, so I went to Madonna House. Marie [Javora] answered the door and exclaimed, “Sushi! Sushi! Roses! Roses!” [Sushi Horwitz was her fellow staff worker.]

I was dumbfounded. That day, October 1st, the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, I heard for the first time the story of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and that Sushi had been praying all day that someone would come with roses. I had only been baptized a few years earlier, and so there was a lot I didn’t know.

Several days later, I saw the child’s mother and told her the story of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. I explained that on her feast day, October 1st, it was regarded as a sign if someone gave you roses. I thanked her but didn’t ask why her young son had brought them to me.

A year went by, to the day. With the bustle of problems and concerns, I had forgotten about this incident. I lived a good distance from the school, and when I returned home weary, it was late. The apartment was cold, and outside it was snowing and a cold wind was blowing. I had already decided I would go to bed.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, there stood my little pupil and his mother with a bouquet of roses. They had remembered about this day.

After her work, the mother had gone and bought roses, and they had brought them to give me happiness. I was so touched that there were tears in my eyes. I thanked God for this love and for these people.

The next day, I took the roses to Madonna House, and together, we spent the whole evening in prayer and gratitude.

*In 2006, our house in Magadan closed, and we re-located our Russian presence in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.