A tree has been in my front yard for the last twenty years. It provided shade to our front deck. It provided privacy to our windows. It provided a climbing spot for kids and cats, a home for birds, a job site for a woodpecker, beautiful colors in the fall. It grew from a little twig to a huge tree so quickly Neil and I often laughed that it reminded us of our relationship. One minute we hardly knew each other and the next we were married and raising a family!
But everything has a season and the tree was dying. It was breaking off in pieces and proving dangerous to my roof, my car, and anyone siting underneath. It was time to cut it down. I couldn’t watch the morning they came to do it, wearing their lumber helmets and safety glasses. From inside the house, I could hear the saw and the shouts of the men as each large branch was cut and swung out onto the lawn. I could hear the chipper as they cut those branches into chunks they threw onto their truck. I could hear the grinder, crushing the last of the stump into mulch they threw into my garden.
Finally, I heard the heavy vehicles drive away, and then it was quiet. Really quiet. No birds chirping, no wind rustling though leaves, and it was sad.
I went outside and looked at the bare and naked spot that only an hour before was shady and green. It reminded me of the book, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, about a generous apple tree and the human being (“Boy”) she loves. In the book, Boy gradually takes everything the apple tree has, and because she loves him, she is happy to give it. Boy always seemed a bit selfish to me; he never even said thank you. So today, a little too late, standing in the bright sun and the quiet, I thanked my tree for its shade, its beauty, and its presence all these years.
And then I had a bit of a brain jump as I thought of all the people in my life who give me their gifts and their presence and how often I neglect to voice my gratitude. Since Neil died I recalled hundreds of things I wish I thanked him for. There were so many daily blessings I took for granted, so many things that in the familiarity of marriage I failed to appreciate or even notice. I might not be able to thank him anymore, but I can still thank lots of others, so….
Thank you to my sweet daughters: I am so grateful for your love and hard work. You make our family wonderful (or as Lilo’s dear Stitch would say, “…..small and broken, but still good”). Sometimes I don’t even notice, but from now on I will.
Thank you to my mother and brothers and sisters: I am so grateful for your tender concern and prayers. I don’t always act like it, but from now on I will.
Thank you to my friends for the smiles and tears and gifts you share. I don’t always share back, but from now on I will.
Thank you to my patients for trusting me with your care. I don’t always convey what an honor it is to take care of you, but from now on I will.
Thank you to the people who impact my life every day, from the kindhearted check-out clerk at the grocery store, to the inspiring choir at my church, to the dedicated person who teaches my exercise class. I don’t always show my gratitude, but from now on I will.
Finally, thank you, my dear readers, for accompanying me on this journey of writing and mourning and joy; I do truly appreciate you! Why not climb onto this
gratitude-giving tree with me; who can you thank today?
Share with anyone you know who needs this message!
I plan to share “The Giving Tree at my House” with like-minded friends at
Thought Provoking Thursday (www.3dlessons4life.com)