Listening Tree

You may have noticed that I am very fond of trees. From childhood on, they have offered me refuge from fears and solace for racing thoughts and worries. Well this Tuesday I lost one of my favorite trees. We live in a small park sharing trees lot-to-lot. But there was one tree that I have been particularly attached to–my listening tree.

This beautiful oak resided to the left of Lee’s pool and had done so for many years. Much like the Gulfport tree highlighted above. She would sprinkle the pool liberally with leaves, it is true. But that just made swimming that much more magical to my way of thinking.Chlorine plus leaves–a win-win. Swimming for me is always done head up, eyes to the sky. Which put my tree in the range of sight for most of my laps. As I pulled myself through the water, I would silently talk to her, reviewing good things, praying through some struggles, overall inventoring my life. Seeing this tree as a sign of God’s presence. She always stood proud, majestic, allowing the squirrels and birds to flitter and fuss without any resistance. She was deeply rooted and always present.

On Monday I noted to her that the summer had been hard on her. Her full branches were scanty this year compared to last. Her leaves fewer. On Tuesday as I drove in, I saw the road blocked. And then Mike told me about her loss of a big branch Monday night. As I drove by on Tuesday evening, she was already being dissected. I mourned her loss. Perhaps I was mourning the loss of a husband who understands, dreams set aside, or the loss of a mom who had died fourteen years ago the week past. It all came out with the cutting of my tree.

Several days out, I can be grateful for the tree’s presence, her strength. I am circumspect on the circle of life. And grateful that she was a symbol of an unconditionally loving God.

So now I look to the sky when swimming–knowing that deeply rooted and always present can be found in other natural forms. And the sky is the limit for my prayers.

About Cate

Passionate about dementia care and quality of life throughout the last days of life----sums up Cate McCarty, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach. With close to forty years of long-term care experience in nursing and recreation, a Master's in Thanatology and a PhD in Aging Studies, Dr. Cate seizes every opportunity to translate research into quality of life for individuals with dementia and all of us who have the honor to "rub elbows" with them.
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