GOLDEN LEAVES FROM THE TREE

I RECENTLY LEARNED OF AND OLD FRIEND PASSING AWAY AT 94 YEARS OLD.   MY THOUGHTS WENT BACK TO OUR FIRST MEETING.  MR. TUCKER WAS AROUND MY AGE (50)WHEN I FIRST MET HIM.  HE WAS A TALL, SOFT SPOKEN MAN,  WITH AN UNCANNY SENSE OF HUMOR.   HE COULD ALWAYS BRING OUT THE BEST IN PEOPLE.  HE WAS A CARETAKER FOR SEVERAL WEALTHY PEOPLE IN OUR TOWN, AND EVERYONE SPOKE WELL OF HIM.  I WAS TEN YEARS OLD WHEN HE  TOOK ME AND MY OLDER BROTHER TO HELP HIM PLANT SOME TREES ON ONE OF HIS CLIENT’S PROPERTY.   IT WAS IN EARLY SPRING ON A SATURDAY MORNING,  HE WAS AT OUR DOOR JUST A LITTLE PAST SUNRISE TO PICK  UP MY BROTHER  AND  I.   AS WE ARRIVED ON THE ESTATE,  THERE WERE A NUMBER OF WILLOW TREES ALREADY IN BLOOM,   AS WE TURNED INTO THE DRIVEWAY,   HE MADE THE COMMENT “NOW THAT IS WORTH ALL THE PAIN YOU GO THROUGH IN LIFE.”  I REMEMBER LOOKING UP AT HIM AS  HE SPOKE THE WORDS.  HE WAS ELATED AT THE SIGHT OF THE TREES.   THOSE WORDS DOGGED MY THOUGHTS ALL THAT MORNING.   YES, IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT, BUT I HAD NO CLUE WHAT HE MEANT.

WE WENT THROUGH THAT DAY PLANTING TREES AND BUILDING BERMS AROUND THE BASES OF THEM.  AFTER WE WERE DONE AND WAITING ON OWNER TO COME OUT AND INSPECT THEM.  WE SAT ON THE BACK OF HIS TRUCK  DRINKING BOTTLES OF FROSTIE ROOT-BEER.  I ASKED HIM WHAT HE MEANT ABOUT WHAT HE SAID WHEN ARRIVED THIS MORNING.   MR. TUCKER PAUSED HALF A MOMENT  BEFORE ANSWERING ME.

ALL THOSE TREES THAT YOU SAW IN BLOOM WERE PLANTED BY ME AND MY GRANDPA WHEN I WAS YOUNGER THAN YOU.   GRANDPA TOLD ME THAT OUR LIVES ARE LIKE THE LEAVES ON A TREE.  DURING SPRINGTIME,  WE BUD OUT AND SPREAD OUT TO COVER THE SKY.  AS SUMMER COMES ALONG,  OUR GROWTH PROVIDES SHADE.  WHEN AUTUMN  COMES, WE CHANGE COLORS AND FALL TO THE EARTH.  WE STAY ALL WINTER PROTECTING THE ROOTS AS MULCH SO THAT THE LEAVES THAT COME NEXT YEAR WILL BE STRONG AND HEALTHY.   GRANDPA PASSED AWAY THE NEXT FALL.  BUT I REALIZED THIS MORNING THAT MY GRANDPA IS STILL HERE…. STILL TENDING THESE TREES.” 

I HAD FORGOTTEN MR. TUCKER’S COMPARISON OF OUR LIVES TO THE LEAVES OF THE TREE ,   UNTIL HIS LEAF CHANGED TO AUTUMN  GOLD AND FELL TO THE GROUND.   I DROVE BY THE PLACE WHERE WE PLANTED THOSE TREES  AND GOT OUT AND SAID “HELLO” TO MR. TUCKER.

MISTER HARLAN TUCKER REST IN PEACE

WILLOW TREES 3

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