When my mother moved into her small apartment in Chico forty years ago she chose well. Most of the apartments in the complex overlooked only asphalt parking lots. A few were built so that the apartments faced each other from across a swath of lawn and trees. My mother took one of these on the ground floor.
Just beyond her patio, the builders had left a dawn redwood standing. Thus, for forty years that redwood grew beside her as she lived her life of friends, family, tennis. She lived her life very, very well; teaching all who knew her how to live and how to age and how to die. The redwood grew and witnessed all the moments of all her years. Today, through a quirk of fate — call it destiny — the same redwood grows beside and shelters my terrace across the way. The sun sets behind it every day silhouetting it against the oranges and pinks of the western sky. Absent the wrecking hand of man, the redwood will survive the apartments and the town and the nation itself. Like mother’s memory, it stands indifferent to time and fire. It abides.