Our tree has deep roots. It was planted deep in the souls of America once my ancestors were brought over. There is no shaking anyone out. Some of the branches may have been cut off but they lay on the ground extending their own small roots and entangling with the main system. Some have been so bent out of shape they can not even be recognized as coming from the same seed, and yet we stand. I have often wondered on the effects and affects our lives have on others.
I think of my dad, the root of the tree, running off in all directions, part of the family and yet not really there. He was just the process to keep us tied in one spot. I think of my dad and I remember how well and seemingly effortlessly he would draw. I believed him to be a great artist and yet the reluctance he had in drawing the smallest scribble for me and his quick criticisms of my attempts spoiled the joy I had in my own masterpieces. I know his lack of belief in my abilities colored the glass in which I saw my works. I can see all the greatness God has given me and yet, the actions of a man long dead still guide my steps, my heart and my pencil. I wonder if he ever thought about how his actions towards mom and the children would shape our lives.
I think of my mom and I see stability, the trunk of the tree, bending and swaying through the rough times and budding and sprouting through the good. I see my mom and remember that I don’t really remember her. When I was a child my mom was the head of the house the one you never really saw until it was to discipline. She worked constantly to have a nice home for her seven children. Sometimes she worked three jobs. Poor soul she began having heart attacks at the age of 38. What a blessing she is here with us. At fifty I realize how long ago she could have been gone. And yet what I gleaned from her was the hours of work mean nothing when you don’t know your family, or better when your children do not know you. What I learned from her was that I wanted to make a deep impression on my children. I wanted them to see a flower and remember what mom liked. I wanted them to know the hand that paddled their little bottoms was also the hand that stroked their faces and guided them across the street. I wanted the girls to know my hand would always, through hell and high water, be forever stretched out to them. You can always come home.
I think of my sisters and I see sturdy, decisive branches. One you can lean on, perch a seat and totally depend on to have your back. That big sister you know will tell you exactly what you don’t want, but need to hear. And that other branch that bends easily, but bounces back. Seeming sturdy but is really pliable.
When I think of my brothers I see those on the ground wanting to be part of us, but only from afar. Clinging on, draining spirit and sometimes the source of life and yet they stay. When I think of my brothers I see the ones nurturing their little buds. I see the love and care they have for their children and I have hope for our tree’s future.
And on that tree, I don’t see me. I’m nothing like the other branches in spirit. I’m more of a daffodil. I have the same bark, but not substance. I’m the tiny twig on the end, way at the top, fluttering in the wind and about to soar. I love my family tree, but deep inside I am a ship. I’m carved from the same bark but on a sail. Always in water, floating and chasing the sun. My roots anchored firmly, my foundation strong, my little buds manning the helm and waiting to transform into our own family tree.