The tree of Don: A love story in and out of time

Don had a particularly small tree that wasn’t growing as fast as the others. Some of them are like that. Well, we have sooooo many of them that I was a proponent of axing the tiny, non-growing trees.

When Don came down with cancer, he became very attached to his trees, caressing them, talking to them — maybe because they couldn’t ask him questions or make him think about what he was up against. 

Anyway, he chose one of them — the runtiest one — and said it was him. He wanted me to take particular care of that one. Feed it more often; cut around it carefully, hug it, talk to it. He told me I could visit him there, afterwards. 

He was obsessed with this idea to the point he was annoying me and the kids with his adamant requests that I visit him at his tree. He spoke of this many times a day. We thought it was his mind going on him — and truly it might have been, as prior to his brain cancer he was cutting down the runts as well as me. 

About a month or two after his funeral, I was out in the pasture among these trees and came across “the tree of Don,” as he called it. I stood there looking at it, all small and really gnarly . . . and noticed that it had a lot of new growth. Odd — this was not the growing season. 

So I’m chuckling to myself, thinking, “darned if Don ain’t in this tree!”   

I remembered how often he would tell me to visit him at this tree after his passing. So I bent over and hugged the darn thing and spoke to it and kissed it. 

When I stood up, stuck on my shirt, right over my heart, were two leaves. One was a dead leaf; one was a green leaf. They were stuck with their stems touching each other.  You can think what you want — but I know what I think . . . . Don and I are together in every leaf, every puppy, every laugh, every tear shed and every hug that takes place on this earth for the rest of time. That is us. 

It was a wonderful visit.

Thank you to Dorrie Koller for sharing this moment.

The Dorrie chronicles, for more background on her story

My God you're amazing
The simplicity of no