Another year, another rose: Charlie Roser’s endearing gift to his wife

Published 12:10 am Thursday, August 24, 2023

CLEMMONS — With each passing year, Charlie and Margaret Roser’s love for one other has grown, and so has his anniversary gift.

Every Aug. 15, Charlie gives Margaret a bouquet of red roses corresponding to how many years they have been together.

The Roser story begins in upstate New York, where the two first met and were married at 19.

Charlie’s proposal was atypical, to say the least. They lived in Malone, New York, and Margaret worked at a restaurant called Dew Drop In.

It was a large enough place that Charlie could sneak in without attracting attention. Then he would play “Going to the Chapel of Love” on the jukebox.

To those that don’t know, the lyrics of that classic tune read, “Goin’ to the chapel, And we’re gonna get married.”

For the low cost of one jukebox dime, Charlie got to announce his arrival and intentions.

“I didn’t always know where he was in the place, but I knew he was there when I heard that song,” Margaret said. “The owner would always laugh and say, ‘Margaret, Charlie must be here.'”

Margaret eventually agreed, and the couple wed in 1964.

Charlie admits that, like most young married couples, they did not have a lot of money. When the time came for their first anniversary, Charlie had to get creative again.

“To celebrate our anniversary, I went and bought one red rose and then a white rose to grow on,” he said.

It was a lovely gift that Margaret adored, so Charlie knew he would have to improve upon that performance for year two.

“So the next year, I bought two red roses and a white one to grow on,” he said.

The flowers were inexpensive, and as his career began to take shape, Charlie could continue the tradition, even if the bouquets became rather large as the years went on.

As the bouquets grew, so did their family. First, they had Laura; a year later, they had a second daughter named Suzy. They moved to North Carolina in 1976 and worked jobs across various sales departments and industries. They started small businesses together, traveled around the world and raised a family.

On Aug. 15, the Rosers celebrated their 59th anniversary. Every year the couple has spent together means more to them than the last, but the past few have been particularly challenging.

While walking back in from the patio in 2020, Charlie fell and broke his femur, the longest and strongest bone in the human body. Breaking a bone like that on a fall threw up some red flags.

“It normally takes a motorcycle or car accident (to break your femur), not when you are just walking,” Charlie said.

In November of that year, Charlie was diagnosed with stage-four Lymphoma.

Since that time, the Rosers’ lives have been turned upside down.

“It changes your life completely,” Charlie said. “It’s just another world. You get chemo shots on a constant basis. It has kept me alive for three years. It’s been strictly drugs doing it.”

Margaret added, “He had regular chemo at first, then he had radiation. Then we went back to stronger chemo.”

Between the treatments, the couple tried to squeeze in time for life.

“For a while there, we got to sneak down to Myrtle Beach for a couple of days,” Margaret said. “We always had to be at the hospital first thing Monday morning.”

Through clinical trials, treatments and sky-high medical bills, Charlie has made sure that every year, Margaret’s bouquet still gets a little bit bigger.

For the last several years, Charlie has been purchasing Margaret’s roses at Lowes Foods on Lewisville-Clemmons Road.

“Ever since Lowes store opened up, I have always got the roses there,” Charlie said. “Whoever the flower lady was, they would recognize me.”

This year, he took Margaret to the florist section and introduced her to the staff that had helped keep his tradition going.

“Jayne in floral was amazing and pulled together a quick celebration with staff holding balloons and made an overhead announcement,” daughter Laura said.

It wasn’t just Lowes employees who got to join in. Several of the Rosers’ friends were also among those celebrating the big day. Laura was there, too.

The celebration represented a change from his routine. Charlie said he would typically give Margaret the roses in front of their home and then take a picture on the porch.

While the larger celebration was a slight twist on his usual tradition, Charlie kept his rose-colored promise to Margaret intact for another year.