Rustling red leaves on the young oak tree remember past dreams. Dreams that my mother had to see this tree take root and grow in the yard, rising above her home’s roof. Dreams of grandchildren and great grandchildren playing beneath it, finding a place of rest and refuge as they runaround in games of tag and hide-and-seek or sit and read a favorite book. An image of a family rooted in the solid ground of faith and one another.
In its first year, some of the leaves and branches withered, almost as if this ground couldn’t support it. The hoped for strength was disappearing. But with some extra fertilizer and a few strategic trims, the tree had the needed nourishment. Finally, the buds opened and leaves again covered the branches late in the spring looking forward to its glorious fall colors
However, the dreams of seeing this tree mature over the decades through my mother’s care disappeared while she passed away last fall as red leaves slowly fell to the ground.
I cry knowing that she’s not sitting in the living room looking out of the window and relishing the red hues as the tree flourishes for a third year. But it’s not only her lost dreams of seeing a majestic oak grow that have me crying, it’s the lives of her children and grand children of which she will not be a physical part. The loss of times that we don’t get to spend with her to be encouraged with her smile and words. The loss of her absolute joy in seeing beauty before her without critique or condemnation. The loss of the stories that won’t be.
Still I see the brilliant red that my mom was looking forward to enjoying every year to welcome autumn’s call, celebrating the year past and the one to come. As I look at the leaves moving in the breeze of this autumn afternoon, I experience my mom’s unadulterated joy.
This tree, though it reminds me of the past, also pulls me into the present, into the heart and hands my mom held open before all of life. I long to fill my days with this posture. To drink in what is before me today. The colors, the conversations, the opportunities. The see through this tree the beauty it brings for today and the hope for tomorrow. It will continue to grow and my mom’s children and grandchildren will continue to live, rooted in the life soil she tilled and nourished for us.
Today red leaves, tomorrow the shade of a full grown oak and the stories of family and friends coming to life out of the lives of those that have gone before. A brilliant showing.