This tree will live on for some time


Maybe there’s an old splintered ladder recycled into a quilt rack or an aging porch swing fixed up with a coat of paint. (Minus the WD40 to keep the creaking sound it makes in the wind.)

I readily admit I don’t always find it easy to assemble the right mix of old and new, but I know it when I see it, which is most often in magazines and showrooms. But even if I could pick up their rooms and drop them directly into mine, it wouldn’t look the same. It takes a more personal touch.

This theory explains why there is an aged circle of ash, about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick, enclosed in a strip of bark, sitting on my dining room table. I’m sure it’s out of place and order by many décor standards. (It fits mine just fine, whatever that means, and I’ve accepted the notion of “an orderly house” as a myth anyway.)

The piece of wood is a slice from a big tree from my parents’ house. A tree that is no longer there, but grew in the center of the backyard for who knows how long until it was removed a few years ago.

After it was cut down, most of the pieces were turned into firewood. I confiscated nine of these slices at the time, with the intent of turning them into something creative for my brothers, sisters and mother. But I never could decide what to do with them and they soon they became one more thing to store on a shelf in the garage.

It’s not practical to save things like this. I watch TLC. I’ve know all the de-cluttering rules.

The memories are in here (point to your heart) and here (point to your head), not in here (tap the piece of wood or other memento you can’t bare to part with).

Well, not this time, Clean Sweep team.

Some of the memories could be in this exact piece of wood. My slice could be from the thickest trunk that held the swing. Or a section from one of the branch crevices that hid our Easter eggs.

Or maybe it was cut from the base, where the six huge trunks began their endless reach toward the sky, forming the perfect concaved seat for reading or posing for holiday pictures.

When I (in no particular order) either get old, don’t care anymore, or when my Alzheimer’s kicks in, the fate of the chunk of wood that the crazy lady kept on the table will be at my kid’s discretion.

They can keep it, toss it, pack it up, or turn it back into firewood. They don’t share my memories about the tree and that makes it nothing more than that—a chunk of wood—to either of them. And that’s OK. By that time, they will have their own keepsakes to hoard until they’re old and senile, too.

So there sits my little centerpiece, holding down a fabric runner in the middle of an old table that once belonged to my husband’s grandma.

It’s a random ensemble, not unlike the mixture of people who have sat under the tree and around the table throughout the years.

I don’t know why I hang on to that thing. It’s just a piece of wood.


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