2019 Grateful 9: Yellow Roses

Tonight in Budapest, 4 November 2019, protestors marched from Clark Ádám tér to the Constitutional Court where they laid yellow roses in solidarity with victims of domestic abuse. Two particular cases have been highlighted in the press. From what I understand, one involves a doctor who was sentenced in July last year to 11 years in prison for pouring caustic soda on his unconscious girlfriend and leaving her locked in a bathroom. That was back in 2013. He appealed the verdict in November and the ruling on reversal is expected tomorrow. He claims the evidence was circumstantial. Another involves the “butcher of Darnozel“, a case that has been going on for over five years. The man was accused of murdering his wife and cutting up and burning her body. He got seven years for assault, less 27 months of time already spent; murder could not be proven. Both prosecution and defence have appealed the verdict. Protestors want greater protection for victims of domestic violence and faster court proceedings.

I’ve written before about domestic violence and in a previous life was involved with Advocates for Victims of Violence. My heart goes out to men and women who are being abused. It’s unfathomable but all too real. I did some reading tonight to see if I could find the symbolism behind the yellow rose and came across this. The Yellow Rose could be male or female. It’s not just women who are abused. And it’s not just men who are the abusers. And yes, the weed gets a bad rap – I have weeds in my garden that I love. Yet however simplified it might be, it resonates with me.

A Yellow Rose grew in the garden. She was full of beauty and life. The other flowers loved the Rose because she was so vibrant and inspiring, the light of the whole garden. One day a weed grew up beside the Rose and touched her petal. “Who are you ?” asked Rose. “I am a rose guard,” said the Weed. “I will take care of you and love you always.”

The Yellow Rose had never seen a flower like Weed before. He was rough and unkempt but something about him drew her close. “If I love him enough, he will grow and bloom into his beauty,” she thought. She could not see that he was a Weed. This would not happen no matter how much she gave or how hard she tried. He wanted only to drain her roots for his own sake. Weed was clever. He told her she was beautiful and meant everything to him. At first they laughed and enjoyed the warm sun together. She felt loved.

She did not understand the true meaning of his words: when he told her she was “life giving” for him–she did not know he meant her life.

Over time, he told her how jealous and unkind the other flowers were toward her. “They say mean things when you are asleep, my Dear—but don’t worry, I will take care of you,” he promised. She did not know he was deceiving her. She did not know that he said things to the other flowers about how insecure Yellow Rose was. He shared her secrets with them, too.

Over time, the Weed wrapped its gnarled stem around hers, slowly draining her brilliant yellow to a duller version. “This way I can protect you from the garden,” he promised as he squeezed a bit tighter. She was lonely, hurt and confused—but felt loved.

Yellow Rose soon realized she could no longer stand on her own as she had rested on Weed so long that her stem had grown weak. The yellow in her bloom had turned a dull brown. The other flowers warned her to stay away from Weed, but by now she didn’t trust them. She knew Weed was draining her, but who else did she have?

She became fragile and dry and then one day, she finally withered away. Her once glorious petals formed a soft brown bed around her lifeless stem. The entire garden was numb and looked over to Weed. Surely, they thought, at least he will have something heartfelt, profound, or apologetic to say. He offered nothing, because that’s what Weeds do. “You have choked the life from our beautiful friend,” said the Lilac. “No, I didn’t. Let me tell you what really happened, sweet, beautiful Lilac,” said the Weed as he inched closer to her.

In Australia last year, on National Domestic Violence Remembrance Day, red roses were laid for women, white roses for children, and yellow roses for men – domestic and family violence occurs everywhere. In the state of Tennesse, in 1920, those opposed to ratifying the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote wore a red rose, those in favour wore a yellow one. The vote was split. 24-year-old Harry Burn, a first-term legislator, wore a red rose up to the day of the vote. That morning, he received a letter from his mother in which she presumed he’d vote in favour of suffrage. He was a good boy. He exchanged his red rose for a yellow one and was the deciding vote.

I can’t for the life of me find where the yellow rose originated as a symbol for victims of domestic abuse. And I had no idea that the array of ribbons marketing everything imaginable was so vast. But rose or no rose, I am grateful for those marching in solidarity and raising awareness.

And, perhaps because I’ve been indulging in Bluegrass lately,  in my inbox today was a link to Molly Tuttle covering the old ballad Rain and Snow where she reworks the lyrics from the woman’s perspective.

By the way, if you’re interested in the origins of this song, there’s a fascinating piece of research by Patrick Blackman on SingOut.

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