Tag Archives: Goodbye

A Tree Grew in Bethesda

Siberian Elm tree today

When we moved into our home nearly 20 years ago we were pleased to have a number of trees on our property. We had a ginkgo, two maple trees (one sugar and one red), a tulip poplar and a mulberry — probably female because it doesn’t bear fruit. We also had a small tree in the front yard that the local master gardener said was an unusual tree for this area. He later told me it was an Oxydendrum or Sourwood (which happens to be my favorite kind of honey).

Andrew hiding treeOne more tree grew in our yard — it was in the back next to the fence and could have been easily cut down with a hacksaw when we moved in. It was so small that baby Andrew’s head nearly covers it in the photo on the right. (click on the photo to make it larger)

The tree grew quickly and before long it was big enough for the kids to climb, which they did. They climbed much higher than they should have, but thankfully, neither of my children fell out of the tree.

A few years ago with help from my Peterson’s guide to trees of North America and the Internet, identified the tree as an Ulmus pumila or Siberian Elm. I’m pretty sure it was not planted by the previous owners, but was a volunteer tree.

The tree towers over the house now — nearly catching up to the tulip poplar in height. It casts a shadow over the back yard and nothing but weeds grow under it.

Now that the kids are away at college and have not climbed the tree in years and we’ve gotten rid of both the playset and trampoline, Dean wants to grow grass instead of weeds in the backyard. And I’d like to try to grow vegetables. We’ve got someone cutting it down right now, and to say I feel guilty is an understatement. I look out the window at the sugar maple and imagine it is quaking in fear that it will be next. I also sense a bit of resentment that we are murdering a backyard companion.

We’ll see if the loss of this tree brings more life to the back yard. I kind of doubt it, but I hope so. Then the tree may not have died in vain.

Best. Neighbors. Ever.

Skippy John Jones G.
Skippy John Jones G.

I look across the street tonight and see the blue Volvo and silver minivan parked where they’ve been for the past couple of years. I see Chris mowing his lawn. The other day I talked to Madeline, Anna, Molly and Carter about vacation Bible camp, Subway meals and trips to the Bay.

Nothing really, except the sad knowledge and “Under Contract” sign, indicates that tomorrow a moving truck will collect their furniture and move everything to Richmond. In two days a new family will move into the house across the street.

The current family couldn’t be any better. They are some of the sweetest people I have ever known. Chris took care of Andrew when he had his skin infection (knowing a dermatologist is handy). Madeline actively  participated in our neighborhood book group. Anna once stage whispered to a friend that Dean was really nice. Molly and Carter entertained us with their 3/4-year old antics.

And then there is Skippy John Jones G. who, although may have pooed on our lawn a few times, was the friendliest cat in the ‘hood. At least to neighbors and the mailman, who on more than one occasion sat on the stoop and gave Skippy a cuddle.

The new family has an incredible act to follow.

The G. family will be missed. Very much.

Happy Birthday Saul Korewa, wherever you are

I am writing this on the last day of February, 2011. It will be posted on the 55th anniversary of the birth of a unique person. He won’t turn 55 years old today, however. And that’s the bad news.

The good news is that Saul was. He was a good person and cared deeply about his daughters. He was a teacher. He was a religious leader. He even was a TV movie actor.

In the earlier days of the World Wide Web, long before the phrase “social media” was a term and it was considered okay to get to know people solely online, we “met” via a piece of software called ICQ that had a unique “random” feature. One of us, probably Saul , pushed the random button and found my profile and requested a chat. We hit it off immediately. We talked nearly every day (mostly about raising kids) for at least a year — possibly more — until he went off the grid and moved to a remote “ranch” in Nevada.

He loved the da Vinci painting Ginevra de’ Benci. He fiercely defended his faith. He didn’t always follow rules. He was a good son and a good father.

About a year ago we reconnected on Facebook, but he’d disappear for months at a time because of loss of Internet access or a misplaced or lost cell phone. Our last conversation was about how proud he was of his girls and that the middle daughter might go into education and he wanted her to talk to me since I’d been a teacher.

Every so often I’d check out one of his two Facebook profiles (yes, he was a rebel) to see what he was up to, or if he’d checked in recently. Today, knowing his birthday was coming up (remember this is being written February 28), I checked his profile and found a message from one of his daughters saying he’d died in December in a house fire.

I used to tease him about being older than I was. Very soon that won’t be the case. I’ll bypass him. I’m sure he’s laughing about that somewhere.

Since he’s devoutly Jewish, I suppose I shouldn’t think of him at that table in Heaven with my Uncle Don, JFK and my Dad, but if he’s there, he’s sure to be telling some fun stories.

On December 20th he posted a photo of  a composite of the recent total lunar eclipse and tagged me as one of the phases. He died a week later. It’s comforting, somehow, to know he thought about me a week before he moved on.

(photos snagged from the Internet)