I think that I shall never see...
Cousins and I rolled down the hill beneath a walnut tree on my paternal grandparents’
Virginia farm. When I taught in Indiana, the autumns brought spectacular colors to trees. One of the highlights while hiking in Colorado is the scent of pines. I’ve never missed decorating a tree at Christmas.
So, naturally, when we moved into this house, and the city recognized our arid environment by providing a coupon toward the purchase of a tree, I expected the plant to outlive me. Becca was eight and Dude fifteen months old at the time. We all took an excursion to the closest tree selling place.
The salesperson promised the tree we selected would grow tall with a long lifespan, and we scheduled its delivery. Dude stood on tiptoe to peer out the front window at the deliverymen. They used a machine to dig a hole, dropped the burlapped roots into the ground, and covered it in a very professional manner. We watered it faithfully and were excited to see its leaves shade our new lawn. By the time it looked good, it was dear Hugsband’s birthday, so we took the first annual picture of the two children next to the tree.
I imagined the tree shading the children when they were adults. I saw grandchildren, and maybe greats, playing beneath the tree. Family members and friends walked past it each time they visited. In fancy, the tree and my expectations grew larger and stronger.
Reality and expectations often collide. Ours was the last tree on the block to sprout leaves each spring and in only one fall day all the brown leaves dropped at once. We noticed neighbors’ free-from-the-city trees were taller, and leafier that ours. Other trees in our cul-de-sac bloomed early each spring, and in autumn developed amazing colors before releasing them to float to the ground. Dear Hugsband and I kidded each other about our tree being a late-bloomer like we.
We laughed at our unconventional tree until last year when one entire side remained leafless. We didn’t pay too much attention because we were busy with life, Becca’s college graduation, Becca and Anthony’s wedding, and Dude’s Eagle Project.
However, as Spring dawned between snow storms this season, we had to accept the fact that something was wrong. We called a tree doctor…yes, that’s an actual profession.
He informed us that when our tree was planted the burlap should have been removed before soil covered the roots. Since that hadn’t happened, the roots died because they couldn’t grow like they needed. It must be removed, for a fee.
Along with the tree’s death, a thousand dreams and expectations were dying, too. It is easy for me to sit here and whine because life hasn’t met all my expectations. There won’t be annual pictures of two kids/adults growing up standing next to that tree. Too many people who walked past it to visit us were taken before their time. Dude won’t be able to stand there in August for his first day of his last year of high school.
As corny as it may sound, as I was pensively whining about this, a song came on the Christian station that was playing. “The Old Rugged Cross” whacked my selfishness. The tree at which I can lay all my expectations.
With another whack, I recognize all the blessings I never anticipated when the tree was first planted: new friends, birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, graduations, watching the children grow into contributing members of society, health, travels, laughter… The list goes on and on.
I encourage you, and hope you’ll encourage me, to spend more time looking at the unexpected blessings than the unmet expectations.