Losses and stories come in many forms. This one is best told by my husband Tom, today’s guest blogger.
Ode to a Fig Tree
by Tom Samp
When my grandparents moved in 1972 to the Scottsdale condo where Mark and I now live, my grandfather planted a fig tree.
This tree grew and flourished. It was unique and magnificent. It produced sweet purple figs every summer.
There was never a time when this tree wasn’t a part of the condo, and of my memories of my grandparents and parents. The tree became a part of the lore of our condo complex.
Last Friday, a victim of the carpenter bees that nested and chewed slowly through the bark and the wood inside, the tree had literally cracked in half and fell bent to the ground.
The sadness was immediate and deep.
But why feel this way for a tree? It’s only wood, bark, leaves, and, in the summer, sweet purple fruit.
My mourning certainly could not compare to that felt by our friend and neighbor Aggie, whose husband Bill, also our friend, passed away during the week.
Still, it was the sentimental images and feelings I attached to the fig tree that made its death so emotional for me.
It was a part of our home that I almost took for granted. A splash of green we saw when we opened our blinds every morning.
A place for the small birds–sparrows, finches, lovebirds–to wait their turn at the bird feeder we hung right outside our window.
The shady spot where our neighbors Pat and Gary placed their lawn chairs to read or relax; and where Gary took his last breath on Good Friday, 2021.
A topic of awed comment and conversation from friends and passers-by.
An ingredient in the fig jam that our neighbor Jeannie made for us.
The February morning every year, after the leaves all fell for the winter, when Mark and I trimmed the branches way back.
The excitement each April when we saw the tiniest green buds, signifying that the tree had survived, and would again thrive.
A final remnant from my grandparent’s lives, when they pioneered to Scottsdale from Chicago in retirement.
On Saturday, after the condo landscaping crew kindly and efficiently chopped the broken tree and carried away the pieces, Mark created a container garden in its place, filled with colorful flowerpots which held desert plants and cactus.
It will be an adjustment. Maybe we will plant another tree in the fall. In the meantime, the memories will always linger.