Fact Check

White Rose

Aid given a child helps him buy a doll and white rose as gifts for a mother and sister who were killed by a drunk driver?

Published Dec 18, 2002

Glurge:   Aid given a child helps him buy a doll and a white rose as gifts for his dead sister and his dying mother, both victims of a drunk driver.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

On the last day before Christmas, I hurried to go to the supermarket to buy the gifts I didn't manage to buy earlier. When I saw all the people there, I started to complain to myself: 'It is going to take forever here and I still have so many other places to go...' 'Christmas really is getting more and more annoying every year.
How I wish I could just lie down, go to sleep and only wake up after it...'

Nonetheless, I made my way to the toy section, and there I started to curse the prices, wondering if kids really play with such expensive toys. While looking in the toy section, I noticed a small boy about 5 years old, pressing a doll against his chest. He kept on touching the hair of the doll and looked so sad. I wondered who this doll was for.

Then the little boy turned to the old woman next to him: "Granny, are you sure I don't have enough money?'

The old lady replied: 'You know that you don't have enough money to buy this doll, my dear.'

Then she asked him to stay here for 5 minutes while she went to look around. She left quickly. The little boy was still holding the doll in his hand. Finally, I started to walk towards him and asked who he wanted to give this doll to.

"It is the doll that my sister loved most and wanted so much for this Christmas. She was so sure that Santa Claus would bring it to her.'

I replied to him that maybe Santa Claus will bring it to her after all, and not to worry. But he replied to me sadly, "No, Santa Claus cannot bring it to her where she is now. I have to give the doll to my mother so that she can give it to her when she goes there.'"

His eyes were so sad while saying this, "My sister has gone to be with God. Daddy says that Mommy will also go to see God very soon, so I thought that she could bring the doll with her to give it to my sister'.

My heart nearly stopped. The little boy looked up at me and said, "I told daddy to tell mommy not to go yet. I asked him to wait until I come back from the supermarket." Then he showed me a very nice photo of him where he was laughing. He then told me, "I also want mommy to take this photo with her so that she will not forget me. I love my mommy and I wish she didn't have to leave me but daddy says that she has to go to be with my little sister."

Then he looked again at the doll with sad eyes, very quietly. I quickly reached for my wallet and took a few bills and said to the boy. "What if we checked again, just in case if you have enough money?'

"Ok"' he said, "I hope that I have enough."

I added some of my money to his without him seeing and we started to count it. There was enough for the doll, and even some spare money.

The little boy said, "'Thank you God for giving me enough money". Then he looked at me and added, "I asked yesterday before I slept for God to make sure I have enough money to buy this doll so that mommy
can give it to my sister. He heard me. I also wanted to have enough money to buy a white rose for my mommy, but I didn't dare to ask God too much. But He gave me enough to buy the doll and the white rose.
You know, my mommy loves white roses."

A few minutes later, the old lady came again and I left with my shopping cart. I finished my shopping in a totally different state from when I started. I couldn't get the little boy out of my mind. Then I remembered a local newspaper article 2 days ago, which mentioned of a drunk man in a truck who hit a car where there was one young lady and a little girl. The little girl died right away, and the mother was left in a critical state. The family had to decide whether to pull the plug on the life-support machine, because the young lady would not be able to get out of the coma. Was this the family of the little boy?

Two days after this encounter with the little boy, I read in the newspaper that the young lady had passed away. I couldn't stop myself and went to buy a bunch of white roses and I went to the funeral home where the body of the young woman was lying in state for people to see and make a last wish before burial. She was there, in her coffin, holding a beautiful white rose in her hand with the photo of the little boy and the doll placed over her chest. I left the place crying, feeling that my life had been changed forever.

The love that this little boy had for his mother and his sister is still, to this day, hard to imagine. And in a fraction of a second, a drunk man had taken all this away from him.

Now you have 2 choices:

1) Send this message to everybody that you know.
2) Or delete it and do as if it never touched your heart.

If you send this message, maybe you will help prevent someone drunk from driving.

Variations:   A December 2008 version concluded: The quote of the month is by Jay Leno: 'With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, 'Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?' That's actually fairly close to what he did say during a Tonight Show monologue in September 2005: "As you know Hurricane Rita is headed toward Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Another hurricane! It's like the ninth hurricane this season. Maybe this is not a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance."

Origins:   We

White rose

first saw this piece circulated on the Internet in late 1998. Some versions identify its creator as "V.A. Bailey," but others omit this detail, either remaining wholly silent on the subject of authorship or ascribing it to that bard of our times, "Author Unknown."

The piece has changed a bit over time, but not in large or especially remarkable ways. In some versions "Granny" (identified in the example quoted above as an "old lady") is rewritten as the boy's aunt (described solely as "a woman"), and the lad thanks Jesus for providing the money he'd prayed for instead of thanking God, but these are small textual shifts, as are the changes from "Momma" to "Mamma" and "Mommy." Such are matters that fascinate folklorists but not casual readers.

As to the larger question, whether this was a factual account of one person's unexpected encounter with heart-wrenching tragedy or a bald work of fiction, we couldn't even begin to judge. Nothing in the story lends itself to fact checking; there's no city or date or surname, and thus no starting point suggests


Our "doll and white rose" story is most likely a rewrite of the 1977 C.W. McCall song Roses for Mama. Once again, a teary-eyed tyke frustrated in his efforts to buy roses for his mother is assisted by a helpful stranger who only afterwards discovers the flowers are for the mother's grave.

The story of the doll and the white rose would rate at least three tear-soaked handkerchiefs on anyone's scale, but as a cautionary tale that will influence behavior by keeping folks from drinking and driving we think it will fail to have much influence. No one ever thinks of himself as a drunk driver; it's always other folks who callously get behind the wheel while intoxicated, putting innocents at risk and sometimes taking their lives, leaving families to grieve. That the person thinking those thoughts has at times driven home after "having a couple" seemingly doesn't register, nor does the realization that taking a turn fairly wide or not having seen another vehicle until almost the last second had anything to do with alcohol impairment. Others folks are drunk drivers; we merely have "had a couple."

Barbara "and one for the road" Mikkelson

Last updated:   12 December 2008

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