A Rose by Any Other Name

By Rose Ann Sinay

My husband and I drove around killing time, waiting to swoop into our granddaughter’s new day care to pick her up. Our daughter and her family had just moved into their new home in Connecticut and wanted to transition Mila-Rose into the unfamiliar place, full of unfamiliar faces, for just an hour or two a day. My husband and I would get to spoil her for the rest of the day.

We had already eaten lunch at the highly recommended seafood restaurant (fantastic fried oysters) and had checked out most of the local mom and pop shops. We thought we had run out of places to go when we saw the sign above an antique shop door. It had an old fashioned name, seldom heard today, it happened to be my eldest granddaughter’s middle name. Tillie’s Antiques, it read. We had to go in.

The door chimes tinkled as we entered. Cloisonné vases, vintage chandeliers and candlestick holders, aged tables and chairs surrounded us. The store was charming and homey – fancy without being untouchable. I spied random pieces that I had grown up with – manufactured relatives of these Tiffany, Stickley, Spode and no-name prized relics. A lovely woman stood behind the jewelry display counter and greeted us as we entered.

“Welcome,” she said with a smile. “Look around, and if you have any questions, I will be happy to help you.”

I walked through several small “period” sections and talked myself out of purchasing all the treasures that called to me. My parents had collected lots of “things” randomly. I tried hard not to follow in their footsteps. Unfortunately, the urge was in the blood.

While I fought my impulses, I heard my husband comment about the name on the sign.

“It’s an unusual, old fashioned name. Are you Tillie?’ he asked.

“Oh, no. I named the store after my mother,” the shop owner said.

I thought of my own mother when I spotted a small, colorful ceramic turkey. A clone of the figurine had sat on her Thanksgiving table every year for as long as I could remember. An image of her relaxing at the cleared table, drinking her coffee out of her special china cup after the mountain of dishes and cookware had been hand washed and put away, filled my mind. I could almost feel her contentment. She died this past May, and even now, my eyes fill with tears whenever I think about her.

“My granddaughter’s name is Tillie,” I heard him say. “Well, her middle name. Her first name is Adelaide.

“Adelaide is my mother’s sister’s name,” she said with a laugh. “I haven’t come across anyone else with those names,” the woman continued. “Old names seem to be making a big comeback.”

I moved from room to room, stopping to chat with her as I passed the estate jewelry case in the middle of the store. Somehow the shared names had created an invisible connection. We would be friends if I lived here, I thought. I had to buy something –something special.

The china section was a treasure trove of delicately patterned dishes in lighted glass cabinets. I recognized several designs that had filled my parents’ hutch in bits and pieces, but never the whole set. That is until they’d gone to a flea market and scored a major find – the Royal Albert, Old Country Roses, bone china that was used once, maybe, twice a year.

Mom loved roses. She stenciled large red ones on walls, painted them on furniture and stuck them in vases. I was lucky she named me Rose instead of slapping a red tattoo on my forehead. Those rose-bordered dishes were special to her. They were the aristocracy to her, otherwise, incomplete collections.

I perused the many delicate plates and bowls, looking for her pattern. I didn’t have to look for long. An entire glass shelf was filled with platters, tea pots, sugar and creamers and coffee mugs. Each piece adorned with roses and edged in gold. I wanted to buy them all. A bittersweet pang ran through me. They were special, but I didn’t need just bits and pieces. I needed something complete in itself. I turned away.

The owner of the shop walked by. “The china is twenty percent off.”

I couldn’t pass up a bargain.

“Could you unlock the case?” I asked. I picked up the coffee mug. There were only two. They had not been part of her set. I pictured her with both hands wrapped around her bone china cup, savoring the moment. My fingers glided over the cool, smooth porcelain; my hands girdled its middle. She would have liked the mug better, I thought. I bought both. I authorized the credit card receipt with my signature.

“Your name is Rose Ann?” the woman asked putting a copy in the bag. (Again, her laugh.) “This is so strange. So is mine.”

As we left the shop, I looked back at the plaque above the door. The shared name had brought us in, touched my family and brought it full circle. I hugged my purchase to my chest. It was a sign.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer newly relocated to Connecticut. She continues to write about moments worth remembering, graciously provided by family and friends.

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8 Responses to “A Rose by Any Other Name”

  1. Pearle Potter says:

    What a beautiful story! Gave me goose bumps !!

  2. Pearle Potter says:

    What a beautiful experience ! Such a memory was created !

  3. Mary Ann Miller says:

    Love this story; remembered it from when you first told me about this “chance” encounter. Love it even more so now that I see it in print. So many more details that can be envisioned, embellished with your descriptive memories. What were the chances? I’m SURE you will NEVER forget it!!

  4. Sue Bisceglia says:

    Love this story. I love all of Rose Anne’s story. I can relate to them all ❤️

  5. Colleen Wenthen says:

    Such a sweet story that you told so well.

  6. Pam Martin says:

    Always love ❤️ your essays Ro. Hope you continue to contribute. Miss you my friend. Keep up the good work as you have such special memories to share with all of us!

  7. Mary Ann says:

    Thanks for reminding us that we are all connected; we just need to recognize the “signs.” A beautiful essay that made me dust off my great-grandmother’s cream pitcher, the one with the painted pink rose.

  8. Linda O'Connell says:

    This was a wonderful essay filled with special moments. I enjoyed your story.

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