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Standing with the Trees
“Grandma, do tell me where that picture was taken?” My granddaughter’s voice rang in my old ears; she held her new cannon in her pale long fingers, pointing at the pictures on the wall. She was always in her green hat, always ready to go out on an adventure.
“A place where we may never go again.” I gave her a brief statement.
“Well why not?”
Half my memory took me back to the beginning…
“When I was five years old I met Charlie your Grandfather, he was scoping out a birds nest in one the oak trees. Before we knew it we were already good friends. Years past and we were growing into our teens, and we would always meet again in the meadow of trees. On my sixteenth birthday Charlie surprised me with our names carved in one of the oaks, and that’s when he asked if he could court me.
“And well of course I said, yes.”
“What does this have to do with the picture?”
I gave her an irritated look and kept on going, “A year later at that very same spot, your grandfather did the bravest thing that he would always remember. He proposed to me.”
“You got married at SEVENTEEN?”
“Psh child, age did no matter then!”
I looked at my granddaughter’s bright young face and smiled and went on and continued. “Then on a Sunday we were walking back home after church, Charlie was in deep shade of gray, he looked as if he saw ghost, a horrible one too. Oh, I can just remember like it was yesterday:”
April 2, 1954
I can remember everything about the meadow; the trees in the first place were always a tad bit lighter in the spring and always got darker in the winter. But today I could feel something that I would never want to feel again.
I looked around and took everything in; Charlie was standing next to the tree tracing his fingers along the carved letters. “Charlie, what’s wrong?” I remember my voice shaking.
“I want you to remember everything about this place; I want us to remember it, like we first saw it.”
“Charlie?” He looked more worried than I’ve seen him. “I’ll always remember it. I think it’s real hard to forget about it, it’s an important part of my life. Our life. It’s our place.”
He turned to me, “Not anymore.”
“Someone bought the land, Josi.”
I gasp covering my mouth, “What’ll they do with it?”
“Their build something on it.”
“But its our place!” I sobbed.
“Not anymore, I tried to offer a great amount of money. But Josi, it’s too much.”
My face was a horrible wreck, I couldn’t stop the tears that formed a river down my cheeks. The meadow put an awakening on my heart. I couldn’t let go, I wanted to show so much of it to my future.
“I’m sorry, I’m crying about a meadow.”
“Don’t be sorry Josi; I don’t want it to go either.”
“Well I know you don’t, you love it as much as I do.” I admitted to his lowered face.
He took my hand and kissed it gently and turned it back into his own, “I was thinking, the meadow is not dying. It is living within our hearts in our memories. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s dead.”
“Because it’s alive in our hearts.” I smiled. “That’s what matters.”
We smiled at each other and stood in silence at the meadow and as the sun began to take its leave, we made our way to our future.
“You never went there again?”
I nodded, as if it was hard to say.
“Then how’d get the picture?” She asked.
“A year after your mother was born, a knock came at our door and all we found was canvas covered in lace. Charlie and I took it to the table and uncovered it, and on the canvas was our meadow and Charlie and I standing with the trees.”
Hackettstown, New Jersey
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