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The Snow Tree

After the fires that burned everything and the rains that never seemed to end there was, at last, a day when the sun shone and the air was warm and scented not with ash but with the promise of Spring. He pointed to the sunshine falling through her front window onto the worn rug in a wind-shimmered pool of light. “Do you want to take a ride out into the Spring?”

“Oh, of course, let’s see what’s going on around here. I’d love to get outside for a bit.”

So he brought out the wheelchair and, after some maneuvering, got her seated and wrapped up with scarves and blankets so that not a wisp of cold could find its way to her. Then he opened the door and out they rolled for the first time in weeks.

Outside it was a fine afternoon; a spring afternoon even though most of the trees sported bare branches just beginning to bud. The bright red camellias were everywhere though and he plucked a few of these and set them on the blanket covering her lap. Outside it was pretty much all blacktopped parking lot but she’d never had been one to look down. She looked up instead at the clouds she always liked to track in the skies vaulting Chico from the Ridge above to the farmountains of the coast range. There were enough there for her to see and identify as they rolled along.

Then they turned the corner towards the apartment’s swimming pool and picnic spot. There they stopped. In front of them was a large tree looming over all the other trees except the dawn redwoods. It was covered all across its crown in massive clumps of white, white blossoms; blossoms so white they could have been a pure snowcap on a tallmountain in January. Even though her eyes were failing her she turned her face up to those suspended drifts of a white and clear spring and said, “Oh my, oh my, isn’t that the most beautiful thing we’ve seen yet?”

They rolled on and got to the swimming pool and the small lawns and tables around it. She had him take her and place her in a way that she could feel the sun on her face and hands but so that it did not dazzle her.

They sat there for a bit. Not talking very much at all, just enjoying the warmth of the spring sun together. Then for a bit, he read her from How Green Was My Valley, the book she had been trying to read on the tablet he’d taught her to use; the tablet that made the print large enough for her eyes to follow. Then they talked a bit more as the sun fell lower in the sky. It became colder so they started to make their way back to her small apartment where she’d lived for over 40 years.

They came back to the tree of the white blossoms. A wind was coming up and the blossoms were being blown from the branches.

She had him stop under the tree for a time and she let the white blossoms from the tree drift down and rest on the ground, and on her lap, and in her hair, all twirling and glimmering in the sunlight like some gentle scented snowflakes.

“So pretty,” she said. “See how white they are.”

“We can come back tomorrow,” he said. “We could have a picnic in the sun by the pool.”

“So pretty,” she said again looking at a few blossoms that had fallen into her hands. “Okay, I’m ready to go home now.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Roy Lofquist March 21, 2019, 11:41 AM

    Gerard, you have a way of touching me that brings me back here every day.

  • Everyman March 21, 2019, 12:06 PM

    You and many others, I am pleased to know.

  • Sam L. March 21, 2019, 12:12 PM

    You’re a damned fine son, Gerard.

  • Gerard March 21, 2019, 12:15 PM

    Thank you all. Right now I don’t know what else to do.

  • Casey Klahn March 21, 2019, 1:44 PM

    Yes. I feel that.

    Here we are still blanketed in snow, bion.

    But, your words take away the winter.

  • Julie March 21, 2019, 1:47 PM

    Thank you for sharing your treasure with us. God bless you both.

  • jwm March 21, 2019, 1:58 PM

    No words
    Just God Bless, and thank you.

    JWM

  • PA Cat March 21, 2019, 2:09 PM

    Prayers still coming for you and your Mom, Gerard.

  • Leslie March 21, 2019, 2:22 PM

    Just love

  • Herb March 21, 2019, 2:33 PM

    Gerard: just be there.

  • ghostsniper March 21, 2019, 2:42 PM

    Excellent! Glad she’s well.

  • Kevin March 21, 2019, 2:43 PM

    Gerard,
    You don’t need to think of anything else to do.
    You are doing all that needs to be done.
    Company is the most sincere and warmest love.
    Your mother is fortunate to have such a good son.
    Bless you.

  • Flyover March 21, 2019, 2:54 PM

    “Right now I don’t know what else to do.”

    You are doing exactly the right thing, sir.

  • JoanOfArgghh! March 21, 2019, 3:04 PM

    “Okay, I’m ready to go home now.”

    Ah, that caught me right in the eyes.
    Blessings to you both.

  • captflee March 21, 2019, 3:10 PM

    I second Joan’s emotion, Gerard. There’s a world in those few worlds.

  • Anonymous March 21, 2019, 3:11 PM

    words

  • Hangtown Bob and Peg March 21, 2019, 3:26 PM

    We are so glad that she is doing well, even if slowly.You are blessed to have been able to welcome in the dawn of Spring together. New life……

  • Jimmy March 21, 2019, 3:46 PM

    And in a that moment, time was stopped.

  • Kurt March 21, 2019, 3:51 PM

    “…consciousness of duty faithfully performed…” Sometimes that is the only comfort to be found in hard places. It was to me, at least, when I was in similar circumstances. I wondered at the time why doing one’s duty could be such a balm for the soul. Took me awhile but then I saw it. At its roots, all duty flows from love. Love, even in tears, still love. God bless you and yours, brother.

  • Lance de Boyle March 21, 2019, 5:50 PM

    Ma Vanderleun lives in many hearts, Gerard.

  • MH March 21, 2019, 6:46 PM

    You are doing exactly as you should.
    More than 95% of other’s children
    Would even imagine doing.
    It wouldn’t cross their mind
    Too uncomfortable
    Hiding behind their weakness
    She cherishes with every sense
    With a value only those who have lived
    Without spite and hate
    Will ever know
    She sees only goodness.

  • Nori March 21, 2019, 7:27 PM

    Poignant, and so beautiful.
    As always, thank you for sharing.

  • Phillipa Crawford March 22, 2019, 5:04 AM

    As I read I felt the sun on my face and hands, too. What a simple and lovely moment to share. Thank you.

  • Joe March 22, 2019, 5:27 AM

    It has been 19 years and 10 months since my mom uttered ” I think I want to go home now.” It changed my perception of life.

  • Jaynie March 22, 2019, 5:35 AM

    I can feel my own heart breaking and i’ve never even met her. God bless you GVDL.

  • Terry March 22, 2019, 8:17 AM

    It is truly amazing what a few rays of sunshine will do to persons outlook and soul. Especially true after a tragedy.

  • JiminAlaska March 22, 2019, 8:27 AM

    Good day.

    A statement, a wish, a prayer, an affirmation.

  • leelu March 22, 2019, 10:10 AM

    Thank you.

  • walt March 22, 2019, 10:16 AM

    I am packing my belongings in the shawl
    my mother used to wear when she went to the market.
    And I’m going from my valley.
    And this time, I shall never return.

    I am leaving behind me my fifty years of memory.

    Memory.
    Strange that the mind will forget so much
    of what only this moment has passed, and yet hold
    clear and bright the memory of what happened years ago
    – of men and women long since dead.

    Yet who shall say what is real and what is not?
    Can I believe my friends all gone
    when their voices are still a glory in my ears?
    No.
    And I will stand to say no and no again,
    for they remain a living truth within my mind.

    There is no fence nor hedge round Time that is gone.
    You can go back and have what you like of it,
    if you can remember.

    — excerpted from How Green Was My Valley,
    by Richard Llewellyn

  • Vanderleun March 22, 2019, 11:02 AM

    Yes, Walt, yes. Exactly so.

  • Dan K March 22, 2019, 12:16 PM

    Good on you Gerard! And another book on my reading list. Thanks!

  • pbird March 22, 2019, 2:16 PM

    I read that book many years ago. Better read it again.
    You made me cry you stinker. Love to your Mama.

  • Vanderleun March 22, 2019, 3:47 PM

    “Men like my father cannot die. They are with me still – real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever. How green was my Valley then.”

  • rabbit tobacco March 22, 2019, 6:45 PM

    At different times in our lives, our various ancestors come up and stare out of the windows of our eyes.
    Emerson

  • Kinch March 22, 2019, 8:12 PM

    Like Kurt said. With deepest respect.

  • Chuck March 22, 2019, 9:44 PM

    Brought back memories…

  • Charles Harrell March 24, 2019, 6:16 AM

    How blessed you are to have her, and her you !

  • Webutante March 25, 2019, 3:39 PM

    Lovely piece, Gerard. Isn’t it true, it’s always the little things that have such staggering meaning? The resplendent little flowering tree after a forlorn, rainy winter. The short drive into the sunshine.

    Same here. Clouds and rain have dominated for months. Now, every shred of sunshine slowly warms our stone cold hearts. It will take a while.

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