The Old Tree

I often mention my friend The Old Tree that lives across the street.
That tree is perhaps older than my oldest relative, and after an overnight shift, on top of my regular eight hours, I came home to find some of the tree limbs had fallen from last night’s storm.
This is nothing new. Over the years my friend The Old Tree has lost limbs, but the tree has never fallen.
I suppose one day, God will call its number, and my friend will fall to the ground.
I suppose the neighbors will eventually have their way, and the town will come to take the tree away.

I see this tree as a symbol of life….

As a boy, I thought my Old Man was the strongest man alive. I never thought he would be sick, or weak. I thought he would live forever, and though I grew, and though I knew better, I still believed in his strength.

I do not claim this to be original. I believe this question does not belong to me, but I did ask it.

I walked into The Old Man’s section of Intensive Care Unit. He had aged. His hair was grayer than I remembered and his face seemed wrinkled.
He looked weak. He looked tired and afraid.

He smiled when I entered the room.   “Whadya say, kid?”
I asked, “Remember how you used to tell me that you hate liars?”
The Old Man nodded and agreed. “There’s nothing worse than a liar.”
“So you would never lie to me, right?”
“No,” he said. “You’re my son.”

Then I asked, “So I could ask you a question….and you would answer….and I could believe you because you would never lie to me, right?”
“Of course,” said The Old man.

I assume I turned into an instant child. My eyes began to water and my voice began to crack.
I asked, “Are you going to be okay?”
I told him, “You said would never lie to me, so if I ask you if you’re going to be okay, and you say yes…..then you’ll have to be, because you would never lie. Right?”

“I’m not going anywhere, kid.”
That was one of the last conversations I had with him.

The Old Man would have liked the tree across the street from my house. He would have understood why I feel the way I do.
He’d have said, “That tree is an example of life.”
We are born, we live, we age, and then we sleep.
This is not sad; this is the natural order of things.
My friend The Old Tree is strong. Perhaps the tree is stronger than many half its age. Maybe this is why the tree has outlived so many others of its kind.

My Old Man was strong. Perhaps he was stronger than many half his age. Maybe this is why he outlived so many of his kind.

Entering into the holiday season, I am more aware of certain feelings. I remember the loss of my father and the promise he never broke.
“I’m not going anywhere, kid.”

I know he kept his promise. That’s what my friend The Old Tree stands for. That’s the old Man’s way of saying, “I know the wind blows hard sometimes, and the world will often take pieces of you…..but no matter what happens in life, hold onto your roots, kid…..
and don’t ever let anyone take you down.”

Enjoy your evening, folks

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