We’ve lived in this house for 19 years. When we bought it there were 3 trees in the front yard: a miscellaneous pine that had been a Christmas tree but was dying fast, a Bradford pear, and a maple tree.
The dying pine was the first to go.
When our son was about three we decorated the maple tree for Easter. I picked him up so he could hang a plastic egg from the top branch.
The Bradford got bigger and bigger over the years. Hurricane Fran took part of it. Later another portion split away. Then an ice storm finished it off.
The maple tree is beautiful now. It’s leaves are tinged with orange and red, almost like God took a dry paintbrush and dabbed tiny bits of color on the edges of the leaves. Every day the color grows brighter and the green fades a little more. The robins and the hummingbirds have moved out for now, but will most certainly return in the spring.
I look at the tree, see how much it’s grown over the years, and compare notes. My son has grown from a chubby baby to the young man he is now, learning to find his way in college while still managing to find his way home on a fairly regular basis. My little preemie girl has grown into the beautiful, tender-hearted young woman she is now. Hubby has picked up a pound or two, his hair greying in that way that looks distinguished in men and frumpy in women, still the high school freshman I met in Mrs. Calloway’s English class, got to know better in Miss Watkins’ physics class the next year, fell head-over-heels for the year after that. It watched him struggle to find his way, to a career and to God.
The maple tree has witnessed our grief as, one by one, grandparents and then parents left us until my mom was the only one remaining. It has witnessed our joy at the births of our children, their various birthday parties held in the yard or the driveway. It stood as a silent witness as I left each morning for work, hoping for a better day than the one before, and as I came home each evening disappointed. Now it gives its shade for me to sit under to read. It’s branches are high enough that I can mow the grass under it without having to duck to avoid being swiped in the face. My husband, son and daughter have grown so much over the years into the people who bless my life now. I look at myself and wonder if I’ve grown any, in any way that really matters.
But the maple continues to grow and change with the years and seasons.
We’ll be moving soon, just a mile or so down the road. It’s exciting to think of how this has all come about, with my mom finding someone to love, someone to love her in return. It’s also a bit overwhelming to think of moving after so many years, of the logistics of combining and rearranging not just two households, but three, as she moves into a new (to her, anyway) home, we move from this house to her house, and this house gets more sprucing up for someone new to move in. We’re planning to lease this house since the market is so bad, maybe selling it when things improve.
There are some things in the yard that I’ll transplant at least parts of: some iris I got from my sister-in-law, primroses from my aunt, stuff like that. And the monster wedding bell plant.
I can’t take the maple tree with me. It will stay here and watch over the house, observing the new people who will be living here just as it has watched over us. it will tell them about us, and maybe offer them comfort in their daily trials. Comfort it learned as it took care of us and our trials.
I’ll miss the maple tree.
I hope it misses me too, just a little.