Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Tree with a Past

Can anyone begin to tell me what kind of tree this is?
I'd love to know because it's one of my most prized possessions. You see, this tree has a past.
My past.

And here is the story...

A long, long time ago, there was a happy family. The mother stayed home with the kids, making sure they had everything that she never had--a happy home filled with birthday parties, sleep-overs and dance classes. The mother took parenthood very seriously, making her children top priority and tending to their every wish.

They lived in a nice brick home with a treehouse in the back yard big enough to fit two adults and two children while they ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches underneath the pines. The backyard was fenced in with a small vegetable garden to the right just under the eaves of the garage, and a swing set to the left.

At Christmas, presents were lined up from one end of the massive living room to the other. The daughter had her own canopy bed with a Holly Hobby bedspread and a Rainbow Brite lamp on the nightstand beside it. The son's room was decorated with boy-like treasures such as jars filled with nature's living organisms and other delights of which the mother would turn a blind eye to.
Life was perfect.

The father had a good job which enabled him to travel occasionally. On one such trip, he brought back the mother a stick-looking thing that he said when planted, it would grow.

The mother planted the stick-like thing and watched as this plant began to take form.

She was delighted that this plant was slowly forming into a tree which grew and grew, no matter what she did to it. Although the mother did have a green thumb, this was an exotic plant and she knew that exotic plants were hard to keep alive. Still, the plant refused to die even under the worse situations possible which would come a few years down the road.

A few years did come down the road, and we find the mother and father have gone their separate ways. The children, once happy and having everything they could ever want, were suddenly put in awkward positions such as "Do we live with Mom or do we live with Dad?"

Because both the mother and the father wanted to "own" them, there was a huge court battle to see who would obtain ownership, commonly called custody by the court system, in which the father tried to make the mother look very bad. Because the mother had a few tricks under her sleeve, it never happened, and the mother was granted custody of said children.

However, it was not an easy path. Once being able to buy nice things, they were finding themselves buying second-hands in the thrift shop. Once eating steak and shrimp, they were finding themselves eating whatever they could.

The mother and her children tried to survive, but with only a part-time job and no child support coming in at first, they found themselves very stressed at how they were going to live. Without going in gory details, the family found themselves in many awkward positions, and homelessness was one of them.

The daughter ended up flunking ninth grade that year, while the son shrunk deeper into his shell. He missed his father and the family life he once had.

The mother tried job after job before the last one in which she applied, kept her on for ten years, and so the story ends. But, it doesn't really end, because, you see, this is where it begins.

The tree in the picture symbolizes a past that only the mother and the children know. It represents hardship and struggle and a fight to win. The tree saw the happy family before they were forced to find out that they are winners, and not losers, and the tree will tell you, if allowed to talk, that even though some things seem to change for the worse, they really haven't.

The family grew stronger with each year that went by. The mother became an author, something she wanted all her life. The daughter became a nurse, and the son found his father again.

While the family struggles to find the answers as to why the family fell apart, the tree knows because he has watched it unfold before its very eyes.

And the tree will tell you that if life were simple and easy, there would be no hardships. There would be no struggle, and believe it or not, your past is the very reason you are who you are.

I don't know why I'm telling you this, except that this tree, this tree I brought up from a little stick-like thing, has been with me for about sixteen years. It never gave up on me. It might have lost a few leaves along the way, but it's the one thing that never, ever gave up on me.

The tree sits in the corner of my living room, still growing, and showing no signs of giving up on me, or life itself. It's a trooper. Just like me.
I don't even know what kind of tree it is because in all the moving around, I lost the "birth certificate" papers. But, it doesn't matter. It's more of a symbol to me now, and as I stare at it in the corner of the living room, yes, it does take me back to a life I cannot have anymore, but I can't change the past. Would I want to? Big question that one.
But, I have learned that what has happened has happened, and it was all part of what I call "my life." And my life has been devoted to helping anyone who needs help, whatever that may entail, and that, I suppose, is my mission here on earth.
I don't know how long this tree will be alive, but as long as it thrives, I guess...I will, too.


  1. Dorothy:

    There are two plants in that picture, you know! But I don't know the name of the plant.

    Here's to single mothers everywhere. I was one, too.


  2. Oh goodness, you're right. The front one isn't a tree so I guess I figured people would know. It's the back one. I sure wish I could figure it out.

  3. Dorothy, there seems to be an awful lot of us ex-single moms or still single moms out there!

    The plant/tree in the back looks like a variety of Spathiphyllum. There are several different species in this group according to my plant book. Next time a leaf falls off, take it to a florist or a nursery and see if you can match it up. Good luck!


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