Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Tree in Remembrance of My Dad

As I drove to a nursery where I sometimes purchase trees and shrubs, I began thinking about my dad. It was a sunny but cool day in the May of 2007, and I was still holding some grief over his death seven months earlier. My mission was to obtain a tree in memory of Bruce Thomas Clarke, but I did not have a firm idea of what to plant or where to plant it.

I was named after my father – he was Bruce Thomas and I am Thomas Bruce. "A very likable man," I thought, and I pondered some more, for it seemed that everyone just loved to talk with my dad. He enjoyed people and they were very comfortable to be around him.

I drove some more, around a bend, under the railroad tracks, and up a small hill. I was reminded that he was a straight-forward man, having obtained a reputation as a successful business man working for medium-sized manufacturing companies. Dad told it like it was for he was honest as the day was long; a man with integrity. In a word, he was upright.

When I returned home from California after he had died, the ladies where I work (I'm the token man among a bunch of women) presented me with $120 cash to be used for the purchase of a tree. My instructions were to plant a tree in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden where I am the caretaker in memory of my dad. "A sweet and honorable thing to do," I thought, and then I knew just the spot where it would be placed: a new flower bed had just been developed the previous year but not yet planted. Instantly I planned to put whatever tree I selected in the middle of that bed.

I drove further, over the top of that hill and in towards the village where the nursery is situated, still not knowing what tree I would select. My thoughts went back to when I was a child in his home, and then to his later years when he became a very successful tennis player in his senior years. I like to think of him in his later years for he had become very gentle. I can't say he was that way to me while I was growing up, but once he moved into retirement, he no longer had the stress of his job or my rebellious childhood ways to deal with. Now he could show me love and encouragement as I pursued my dreams. Dad had become soft and gentle.

'Concolor' fir
My ideas about selecting a tree began to form as I turned right onto the main road; the nursery was just down the road on the left. I would select an evergreen which remains green year-round, just as Dad was consistent through his summer or winter times. I would find an upright tree even though the location called for a possibly more ornate plant, because that was more like his nature. And I would look for a tree with soft needles for that was like the man that Dad had become.

As I turned into the nursery, I knew of only a few trees that fit that description, and immediately the 'Concolor' fir came to mind. In the spring and early summer, the new needle growth of this large and prominent tree is the color of my Dad's eyes, an unusual shade of hazel with blue tones! I stopped the car but could not get out, for God had given me a vision of my Dad that would last into the years: a likable tree that others will be able to enjoy and discover even though they never knew him. My eyes were again misty, for I knew my God had given me and others "A Tree in Remembrance of My Dad."

The color of Dad's eyes