Written by Linda M. Wolfe
THE MIRROR TREE: Our Son’s Life Reflected
Maybe once in your life or perhaps twice, a plant will mirror your life back to you. If you are a seeker you may find multiple times in which nature reflects the circumstances in your life. This is my story.
When our children were young, we planted three fruit trees: a yellow apple, a red apple and a cherry tree. Our son was in kindergarten while our daughter was a toddler.
I recall the four of us doing our own part when we planted them. My husband dug the holes and lifted each sapling into its new home. I held them straight, one by one, while the others (mostly my husband) placed dirt in the hole. Our kids thought it fun to help tamp down the dirt with their dancing feet. It was an enjoyable and carefree time.
Mirror Tree, Which of the Three?
The three trees looked lovely in our yard. The yellow delicious apple tree began fruiting first. I should mention when we purchased the trees, we asked if the cherry tree needed a mate for it. We were told it was self-pollinating. Apparently it wasn’t because it has never produced fruit. It was and is, however, a very lovely tree, appearance wise.
Our red apple tree wasn’t strong enough to produce. It only lasted a year or two. The yellow delicious tree, however, was an exceptional specimen!
Not long after we started harvesting the yellow apples, it was common to collect wheelbarrows full of luscious fruit. One year our early elementary-aged son requested I make apple crisp for his entire class. Rather than frosted cupcakes, he wanted this apple treat to celebrate his fall birthday.
Through the years, innumerable fresh apples were consumed from that tree. Quart upon quart of applesauce flowed forth. Of course, the tasty apple crisp frequented our kitchen and landed in our bellies! Year after year, this tree presented her grandest efforts, with the exception of two years. One year, our dear tree only produced two apples, only two whole apples! That fall, one of the two apples fell before harvest. Coincidentally, that was the autumn our son left for college, while our daughter remained home with us.
Mirror Bushes and Plants
Other plants now enter my story from stage right. We planted pygmy crimson barberry bushes to landscape around our home. These lovely, deep red plants added a nice contrasting splash of color. Two years, however, were a challenge for a number of these bushes. They became infested with worms. During the first infestation, the leaves were gone for the remainder of the year. Fortunately, the foliage returned the next year. In the second instance, some leaves were lost, but miraculously in that drought year returned. Interestingly, each of those two years (three years apart) were the years of our son’s two major pancreatic cancer surgeries. He regained a clean scan following each of those two surgeries! It was fascinating to see the bushes reflect a clean bill of health as well!
I would be remiss if at this point I neglected to mention our resurrection plants. These lovely lilies are what some call naked ladies. They explode with beauteous petals in shades of pink tinged in blues and violets. Ours were transplanted in our yard years ago from my mother-in-law’s garden. The habit of this plant is to produce long, slender green leaves in the spring. It then dies down. Eventually in late summer, with no hint of a plant above ground, all at once single stems pop from the ground. A gorgeous flower is upon each.
Between our son’s two aforementioned surgeries, was his first scan after having been diagnosed with the “c” word. The very day we came back home from this scan, these lilies were tired of playing hide and seek. They were blooming in a glorious array! It seemed to be portending a clean result on our son’s scan, which it was then: no evidence of disease!
Yellow Delicious Mirror Tree
We now return to our yellow delicious apple tree, four years after our son’s second pancreas surgery. Our tree started out that year, perfectly fine. Despite her share of wind-battered injury and removed limbs, she had been producing many apples. That summer, she did set on fruit, however, by mid-summer the fruit shriveled and dropped. The tree lost the bulk of her leaves throughout the warm months and appeared as good as dead. This of course, was the heart-breaking summer when our dear son passed from this life. It was as if our poor tree was in mourning as well.
Unbelievably, the photo on this post is of our yellow delicious tree, the very next summer following the death of our son and the seeming demise of our tree. That summer, the foliage looked lush while the fruit setting on appeared delectably plump. Was our apple tree mirroring the influence of our son’s impact through the years that he and his memory lives on?
In the years since then, our apple tree continued producing fruit, although the quantity was waning. This very year, our poor tree has finally reached her age of departure. It has been five years since our son’s passing. Our tree started out the year with a small amount of energy devoted to squirrel’s ear sized leaves. A very small number of deformed, dime to nickel sized apples squeezed from the stems. What limbs she has now are mainly shoots off of major limbs which were previously lopped off. Her protective bark is no longer clinging to the trunk. This Charlie Brown like tree sadly turned brown for the final time. I read that a semi dwarf apple tree typically has a life expectancy of thirty to thirty-five years. It will be sad to cut her down, however she lived a good thirty-nine years in our yard. Our son’s life was just shy of thirty-nine years by three to four months.
Our plants, as you can see, speak to me. They uncannily mirror what our lives are. I encourage you to search and seek the mysterious messages that may be hiding in plain sight before you. May you find your mirror tree!
Text © Linda M. Wolfe
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