Wallpaper Roses

In 1949, with the war years well behind us, my mother decided it was time to spruce up the interior of our Upper Peninsula home. My father suggested that knotty pine would be nice, but Mom had other ideas.

“These rooms need a little magic,” Mom said. “I’m really tired of all this mauve. What we need is something new—something exciting, elegant, enchanting.”

“We could use a change,” I agreed, trying to be helpful.

That was all the encouragement Mom needed. She grabbed the car keys, shrugged on her muskrat jacket, and popped her veiled hat on her head. Within minutes, she, my sister Connie, and I were in the ‘49 maroon Chevy heading for Montgomery Wards in Iron River, Michigan.

We went directly to the furniture section and started the search—looking at colors, feeling fabrics, and sitting on every sofa in sight.

“What did you have in mind?” A tall man in a tight brown suit asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” Mom admitted. “Something new and different.”

He cocked his head to one side, and gave her a long discrim¬inating look.
“I know exactly what you’re looking for,” he announced.

“You do?” Mom looked at him questioningly.

“Come with me.” He led us past the other floor clerks, the catalog sales desk, and into the shipping and receiving area. He walked directly to a mauve sofa, stepped behind it and, facing us, ran his hand over the back of it. “Misty Rose. Just arrived yesterday.”

“Misty Rose,” Mom sighed. “It’s perfect.”

The sofa was exactly the same color as the one we had at home—mousy mauve.

“I’ll take it,” Mom said, beaming.

“Well we won’t have to paint, or anything—it’ll match everything that’s already there,” I said hopefully.

Five minutes later, the three of us were in the wallpaper store where we sat, for what seemed like hours, pouring over the pages of a stack of sample books.

“Look at this!” Mom said, pointing to a page covered with sprawling red, white, and pink cabbage roses. “Aren’t they gorgeous?”

“They are pretty, but I’m not sure they’re right for our house,” I answered.

“Why not for our house?” She looked at me quizzi¬cally. “You said you were tired of mauve, didn’t you?”

I couldn’t remember ever having said I was tired of mauve. I was tired of mauve, but I couldn’t remember ever saying it. She was the one who was always saying she was tired of mauve.

“I guess so,” I replied, my eyes riveted to the rambling roses. I’d never seen anything like them. It was hard to imagine what they’d look like in our home.

“Now there, you see, these will be just perfect for perking things up a bit. You can almost smell them!” Mom laughed.

“But Mom,” I hesitated, “are you sure they’re not too big? Too bold?”

“Don’t worry,” Mom said, “they’ll be just right.”

For three days the house was a disaster zone. Dad, grumbling, slapped paste on strips of wallpaper which he handed to Mom who, also grumbling, pressed them into place. My sister Connie and I, grumbling, stayed out of the way.

But finally the ordeal was over. Tools, paint, and scraps were gone and, when I ventured into the front rooms, I was speechless. There was not a hint of mauve left anywhere. The striking sprays of lush rambling roses, spreading across the walls provided a stunning garden-like setting. The new sofa, against the pink, white, and rose blooms was indeed misty pink. The rooms were exciting, ele¬gant, enchanting.

“The sofa isn’t mauve anymore!” I exclaimed.

“Oh, honey, that sofa never was mauve. It was always misty rose. You just couldn’t see it until now.”

“It’s like magic,” I said.

“Yes, just like magic,” Mom agreed.

My mothers eyes sparkled with delight over the enchanted indoor garden she had created in our little home. And, as I see her still in my mind’s eye, admiring the magic of her rose-covered walls, I think of the many everyday miracles she worked through the years for my sisters, brothers, and me. Changing mauve to misty rose was only one of them.

By Coralie Cederna Johnson and reprinted from The Detroit News.

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