Welcome to our newest contributor, Jack McDonough, who formerly read his essays on WUML’s Sunrise program. Here’s his first submission to this site:
The Mail Order Tree
I don’t remember how old I was when my father sent away for that Tulip tree. I guess I was twelve or so.
I also don’t know what possessed him to do that. He wasn’t a “green thumb” kind of guy, although we did have a lot of shrubbery and flowers around the place. Mostly, I think, the landscaping was done under my mother’s direction.
But I remember my father sending away for this tree. And when it arrived it had one brittle main stem, which immediately broke off. But we planted what was left anyway, near the rear of the side lawn, halfway between the garage and the Butler house next door. It was a sad little plant and we didn’t hold out much hope for its survival.
But, over the years, it persevered. It somehow grew another trunk to replace the missing one and, without much help from anyone, it just kept growing.
Years later, when I went home for a visit with my young family, we took a photograph around that tree. Our three children sat on a sturdy lower branch, and my mother and my wife stood on the ground next to them.
My father had died by then. He never lived to see his grandchildren but I hope he looked at that tree from time to time and was as proud of it as I am.
Near the end, after my mother went to the nursing home, we sold the house. I still drive by it once in a while. I don’t know who lives there now because the house has changed hands a couple of times. It looks nice, though. A new coat of paint. Well kept grounds. read more »