He leaned heavily toward the house and could have done considerable damage to the structure and overhead utilities. So, he had to go, as painful as it was to make the decision to take him down. I arranged the felling of this tree, paid for it’s removal, and even assisted the forester. Cheryl was sad to see him go as she and her siblings played under his branches when they were children. Memories remain even though the curled bark can no longer be touched nor the trunk scaled and branches climbed.
If this big tree could talk, he would speak of fields full of crops and of farming. He witnessed yearly plantings and harvests, grazing animals, and a farmstead with family members fulfilling their chores and friends sharing picnic lunches. Many a sunny day bathed this tree’s leaves while rain and snow drenched his roots. This old boy provided shelter for birds and squirrels who built countless nests in his secure branches. He knew the sounds of children’s laughter swinging high above the earth on homemade rope swings. This once proud maple eventually witnessed the development of a housing subdivision in the late 1950’s. Farmland was replaced by neatly organized neighborhoods with modern streets, utilities, houses and nearby amenities. Yet, he remained standing-like a sentinel.
Eventually, the process of rotting began within his lower trunk, thus reducing the ability of this tree to support the upper trunks and branches as they leaned uncomfortably toward the house. Yet, in spite of this gradual deterioration, he still managed to stand tall, grow leaves in the spring, and even provide a home for raccoons and opossums.
However, there comes a time when the risk outweighs the benefit and he had to be taken down. Watching this 125+ year old maple reduced to firewood made me think about life…and memories. Since there is no Fountain of Youth to drink from, no eternal elixir to be swallowed, and no magical spell which will stop aging; much of what will remain when we leave this home we call Earth are memories. In some cases there may be ongoing programs and inventions created by individuals, and great legacies of victories and cures. However, when one is remembered and even honored, the memories reign supreme.
Although my father fell 32 years ago, his birthday anniversary is today, February 4th. He would be 92 had he reached this day. I am grateful to have known him in a positive sort of way, and to have been loved by him even though I was only a young father when he died. To be sure, I recognize that all memories may not be pleasant for some, and may often be very painful to visit. Too many children don’t even know their father which is a travesty. However, my hope is for all of your future ones to be filled with much joy and fondness. Never take for granted the sweet moments when wonderful memories can be made, and then act upon them like there is no tomorrow. Spring is just around the corner!