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See the tree

See the tree, how big it’s grown,

But, friend, it hasn’t been too long it wasn’t big.

I laughed at her and she got mad

The first day that she planted it was just a twig …


Soon after my mother moved back here to Lexington, her hometown, from Las Vegas in 1996, she, Dan and I found a house to rent on Maywick Drive. She was very excited to make the house comfy and pretty, and she also wanted to plant a tree in the front yard.


So we went to K-Mart and got this little pine tree seedling. I was, to be frank, having my own issues about this new configuration, this foray into the sandwich generation, so I was skeptical about my mother’s ability to make a tree thrive and flourish, but I didn’t say anything out loud. I just drove to K-Mart as requested and loaded the tree into the trunk of the car and brought it home. Then Mom called the landlord and asked him to come and plant it in the front yard. We named the tree George after him.


I didn’t pay much attention to the tree. I do have a picture of Dan in his middle school football uniform posed on one knee beside it, looking solemn and ready to tackle somebody. Even kneeling, the tree only came to his shoulder. It was a little straggly and a little lopsided. Almost like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. I really did not think it would ever amount to much.


Mom died in 1998 and Dan and I moved to our new house in Marehaven in 2004. George the tree grew just a little bit. We did not transplant him when we moved. I figured he was happy where he was and besides, I already had a red oak in my new front yard. Just the other day, I drove past our old house and was astounded to see how much George had grown! He was an adult tree now, and he had these huge Christmas balls adorning his branches. He was lovely. In spite of me, George had taken root and was now tall and trim and shapely and very, very green. I was ashamed I’d ever doubted his ability to mature and that I’d mocked Mom’s determination to plant him. George has become a living legacy for her. He shows that even after we are gone, some of the things we do take root and grow in spite of others’ opposition and skepticism. He shows hope. I guess Mom really knew what she was doing after all.


And yes, I miss you, and I’m being good.