• I was talking with my mother this afternoon about food, diets, hot and humid weather, driver's licenses and, well, lots of just stuff. She was telling me about the plastic playhouse she had bought at a yard sale for the great grandchildren to play in.
I said, "It might be time to put the tire-swing back up." It got very quite on the other end of the telephone line.
Mom said, "I think it is time I told you something. The wind blew the mulberry tree over."
Now, a tree getting old and diseased and dying isn't uncommon. Mom's neighbors have been telling her to get rid of it for years; but this specific tree, at the old family house in New Castle, PA, has always been my tree.
Since I was barely old enough to walk, I was climbing that mulberry tree. Back then, it's trunk was hardly strong enough to hold my weight and it would bend over as I sat in it's branches. The tree was probably just a bit older than me. I tried eating the berries; but I didn't like them. I still chased birds away from my tree, though, and I still feel ashamed about using my brother's pellet gun to shoot and killing that beautiful Cedar waxwing. The mulberry grew into a great spreading shade tree. Over the years, many children have climbed and tied swings onto it heavy branches.
Mom and I would laugh about the advice she would get from neighbors to cut it down. She would tell them, "No one was touching that tree until it falls over." We joked about how I felt I would last only as long as that tree was still around.
As I talked with my mother today about the tree, it became obvious that this had not been a recent event. The tree had fallen over during a storm sometime, maybe last year. It had made such a tremendous racket as it fell, the noise had brought the neighbors and her running out of their homes to investigate. She couldn't bring herself to tell me about it and no one else in the family has mentioned it either.
I get a little teary thinking about that tree and how Mom is still trying to protect one of her children from some of the harsh realities of life. The tree was a symbol of a shared memory between us.
It was a great tree and Mom still is a great Mom!
(This was originally posted August 13, 2005.)