My Giving Tree

Joyce Kilmer's poem Trees-8x6



One of my favorite children’s books is “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.  I loved reading it, but it always made me sad.  I’ve had many “giving trees” in my life, and I’m sure I didn’t appreciate them as much as I should have.


There were tall trees on the wooded acreage where I grew up that allowed my tire swing to go happily to and fro.  There were Catalpa trees in my grandmother’s yard.  They provided shade for afternoons on a quilt with my cousins, a gathering place to listen to my grandfather sing silly songs and tell wonderful stories.  Their shade provided a welcome respite from the scorching Oklahoma sun in the summer.


I’ve loved trees all my life, but there are a few trees that are especially wonderful to me.  My husband and I bought land from his parents and cleared it for a house.  The trees were small, mostly oaks and hickories, and they were very close together.  We hired a man with a bulldozer to come clear a spot for a house.

He and his wife brought a puppy with them, and I was preoccupied with children and a puppy.  Suddenly, I came back from la-la land and realized that he was knocking down ALL the trees.  I must have appeared a little crazed because I headed straight for him, waving my arms and yelling as loudly as I could to be heard over the noise of the bulldozer.  He shut off the offensive machine, and I tried to state calmly that I wanted to save SOME of the trees.  I grabbed my husband’s t-shirt and started cutting strips to wrap around the trees.  I can still see the look of dismay and frustration on his face, but I didn’t care.  I was on a mission to save my trees.

That was 37 years ago.  As you can imagine, the trees are quite large now, and they are all beautiful to me.  After all, I SAVED them from being mowed down by a bulldozer.  They have rewarded me with shade and enjoyment all these years.

One tree in particular is special.  It is close to our house, and it has been the focal point of activity.  It represents many of the special times we shared as a family.  Conversations took place beneath that tree, some silly, some serious, but all important in creating my memory book.  The tree represents my children growing up; loving several different pets, including a pet crow named Joe; losing loved ones; picnics, picnics, picnics; spending time with our dog, knowing that the vet would put him to sleep the next morning; watching grandchildren grow.  Life in general.  So much of our lives happened in the shade of that tree.

Maybe I have given the tree a little too much TLC because my husband says it is too large for the space and must come down.  He is afraid one of our wicked Oklahoma wind storms will place the tree on the house.  I must admit I don’t want the tree in my family room, and so I agree.  The tree must go.  But, oh, how sad I am.

I won’t be home when it happens.  I cannot watch the mutilation of my tree, so I will leave.  I will come home to a very sad, empty spot, a little sawdust and debris.

I’ve discovered that one of the most painful parts of aging is the loss that accompanies it.  Loss becomes a way of life as the years accumulate, and it is hard.  I realize that losing a tree doesn’t compare to losing a loved one, a house in a tornado, a dear friend, or good health.  But I will miss my tree. Maybe I will sit on her stump, cry a little and remember my giving tree and all she gave to me.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. momandprophet
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 15:43:06

    Let me know the day, Mom. Maybe you can come spend it with us.

  2. chemocurls
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 16:15:40

    Yeah, maybe. I just know I won’t be here when it happens.

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