One family, which had emigrated from Japan and settled at the turn of the century near San Francisco,had established a business in which they grew roses and trucked them into San Francisco three mornings a week.The other family was a naturalized family from Switzerland who also marketed roses,and both families became modestly successful,as their roses were known in the markets of San Francisco for their long vase-life.For almost four decades the two families were neighbors,and the sons took over the farms,but then on December 7, 1941,Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Although the rest of the family members were Americans,the father of the Japanese family had never been naturalized.As they planned to leave the country, his neighbor made it clear that,if necessary, he would look after his friend's nursery.It was something each family had learned in church:Love thy neighbor as thyself.“You would do the same for us,”he told his Japanese friend.It was not long before the Japanese family was transported to a barren landscape in Canada.A full year went by. Then two. Then three.While the Japanese neighbors were in Canada,their friends worked in the greenhouses,the children worked before school and on Saturdays,and the father's work often stretched to 16 and 17 hours a day.
And then one day, when the war in Europe had ended,the Japanese family packed up and boarded a train.They were going home.What would they find?The family was met at the train station by their neighbors,and when they got to their home, the whole Japanese family stared.There was the nursery, intact, scrubbed and shining in the sunlight —neat, prosperous and healthy.And the house was just as clean and welcoming as the nursery.And there on the dining room was one perfect red rosebud,just waiting to unfold — the gift of one neighbor to another.