Monday, December 12, 2005

Behold, the GG Tree!

My grandmother-- known by me as Garmie but after my kids were born as GG, their shorthand for great-grand- mother, died in 1991 in her 90s after suffering a sudden and devastating stroke. She apparently had the stroke at night, as she slept. The following morning, I was at a high school in Portland, working in my then capacity as Asst. Vice President of Adult Training for Cascade Pacific Council, Boy Scouts of America. On the day that GG passed, I was running a 1000+ participant training event known as “Pow Wow.” At day’s end came the closing ceremonies, and among the lovely parting gifts I received was a Douglas-fir seedling. It wasn’t more than a stick, its small root ball wrapped in a baggie. Half an hour or so later, and still clutching the tree, I found out that GG was gone.

I’m skipping some details, but let’s go ahead to the time that the tree was planted, in the front yard close to the sidewalk. For the first two or three years, not much happened. But then the tree had a growth spurt that turned her into a very awkward adolescent—more of a fat round bush, actually, with several tops. Bill took the shears to her, giving the tree an all-over haircut that at least made her look like a Doug-fir. We started calling her the GG tree.

In the last three years, the tree has shot up and now looks like a real fir, like she belongs in a forest somewhere, growing up among her fellow ents. Of course, it’s too late to dig her up. But hard truth be told, the tree is probably going to have to come down, for now she's so big (about 26 feet, we figure, and putting on 8-10 feet/year) that there’s real worry about her roots taking out sidewalk, water lines, etc.

All of this is terribly symbolic, for in the years before GG died, she lost her legs—was cut down, literally—by vascular disease. Did it slow her down? Not a bit. She had prostheses and a little cart and continued to live a very active life, right up until that awful stroke. She was an amazing woman—very strong, very positive. An incredible role model for me.

The idea of having to cut down the GG tree is a sad one. For the last couple of years, Bill has put lights on her at Christmas. This year, she’s simply too big for us to do the job (last year Bill fell off the ladder and was lucky not to break anything). And yet this year might be her last, and I wanted her to have a good send-off.

So, starving grad student that I am, I ponied up some $$ (sheckles, my mom would call them) and got a professional lighting service to light up the GG tree, maybe for the last time. They did it today, and above is a picture of how she looks. She’s the brightest, tallest, most beautiful thing in the neighborhood. Everyone’s oohing and ahhing and Bill is happy because now he thinks he’s “beaten” the next-door neighbors in some sort of unspoken holiday lighting contest.

I don’t think my blog is always going to have these long stories…. But I guess it’s that time of year, full of memories and the time to rejoice in the return of the light. Today, I just wanted to share the GG tree with all of you. And GG, if you’re reading this, I hope you like her.


Kristina Poughkeepsie said...

This story brought a tear to my eye. I lost my grandmother earlier in the year and this is our first Christmas without her. It has been hard but we are finding little ways to "keep her with us" during the holidays. I think that it is so great that you are keeping your Grandmother's spirit alive with your "GG Tree." When the tree comes down I hope that you find a new tradition to remember her by. Have a wonderful Christmas!!

Moonwriter said...

Thanks, Kristina. Those grandmothers have a way of staying with us, and that's a good thing. Happy holidays, and feel free to drop in any time!

Erin Pez said...

I loooove that picture! Its perfect.

Rebecca said...

The GG Tree looks so beautiful! I can't wait to come visit.

Moonwriter said...

Yay! **clapping hands**