Thursday, August 14, 2008

Don't Plant A Tree

A nurse who worked on my unit was killed in a car accident. The staff has planted a tree in her honor. That is becoming more common, I think.

I like trees. A few years ago I developed one of my enthusiasms for odd subjects and learned to identify local trees and read up on them.

But don't plant a tree to commemorate me. If it lives, it proceeds on into the territory of descendants who could not care less. That chestnut was planted in honor of your great-grandfather... So what?

If it dies, it is one more wound for the survivors, one more great injustice of the world, ending with a whimper instead of a bang.

If you are a complete nobody, you are forgotten by all a year after your death. The beloved fare only a little better, I'm afraid. Twenty years after your death only a few close relatives with retain any memory, and those only occasionally. In a hundred years, those who are remembered will be recalled inaccurately. This world is not your home. Store up treasures in heaven.


cold pizza said...

I can see where a tree would be a living memorial, in lieu of a tombstone. I've been to enough funerals in little country cemetaries (back when one of my extra duties was as a military bugler) where names were ineligible or where no one had set foot for months or years. Tombstones also crumble with time.

Planting a tree is an affirmation of life. If the tree lives, it can propigate. Who cares if some long distant descendant couldn't care less about where the tree(s) came from? If the tree dies, an appropriate course of action would be to plant another tree (and another if needs be).

The memorial needs serve no purpose for generations yet removed as long as it brings solace and a measure of comfort to those left behind.

In the same vein, when my grandmother (who raised me) passed away, I gathered seeds from the flowers in her garden to plant in my own. All I have left are my memories and a constant comforting reminder when the irises bloom.

Celebrate life in all forms. These act of love need only be known to God.

LordSomber said...

I agree, but there is something to be said for this:

I live about 3 doors down from the tree. People often stop by the tree and wonder not only about the story behind the tree, but also the people themselves.

Woody said...

Plant kudzu in memory of me. Kudzu completely takes over and never dies.

Sam said...

My mom (who once pastored a church you attended...) and dad planted a tree on the property of their first Manchester home some years ago to celebrate their marriage or house. It has grown tall, but now the airport near it drowns out the neighborhood with noise. That could be a life lesson for marriage or something.