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Blending the generations

[ 2 ] January 5, 2017 |

A hackberry tree has grown up through an old, twisted oak. It is now taller than the original tree.

By Faith Wylie, co-publisher

A twisted, gnarled oak stands in the southeast corner of our acre. I expected it to die soon when we bought the home in 1985.

A few years later, a volunteer sprouted near its base. I left it there. When the oak died, I figured I would have a replacement tree in place, albeit a boring replacement.

After 31 years, the old oak still stands. The now-mature tree has found a path through the old growth. Now, it is taller than the oak.

Will it grow so large that it hogs all the sun? Or is it supporting the burden of the clumsy old tree?

My encounter with cancer made me aware of aging. This year, I am 63, the same age as my father when cancer took him from us. Fortunately, doctors have developed several attack plans for my type of cancer, so I lived.

But I fear I might be more like the old damaged tree than the young one that reaches ever higher toward the sun.

We celebrated Christmas at our son’s new house in Maryland. He and his wife are still growing toward the sun, while we and Alison’s parents are planning retirement. Some days, our joints feel like those knobby joints on the old oak branches.

However, the mix of adult children and retirement age parents were still a team.

James and his father-in-law worked together to assemble antique furniture from previous generations of the Holton family.

I tried, as Alison’s mother-in-law, not to take over her new kitchen, to help but not boss.

The delightful interaction reminded me that the best teams have a variety of ages, strengths and passions.
At our best our lives are intertwined.

And, like my trees, our roles will change—imperceptibly day to day but dramatically decade to decade.


Category: Opinion

Comments (2)

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  1. Dawn Orwig says:

    Awesome story! I love trees, preferably old or dead ones. Those are the most unique in character and I feel some odd connection to them. If they could talk,I know they would have awesome stories to tell, and adventures to share with the world. Great photo, too!

  2. TJ Bennett says:

    Very nicely written, Faith. I’ve appreciated your and John’s writing talent over the decades.