Sunday, May 8, 2016

Depression Survival: Trees


The cool breeze blew across my face that Mother’s Day in May of 1956. The wind lifted the branch I straddled high atop that huge evergreen tree as I rode my pretend horse. I was lifted toward the clouds and back down to the reality of earth. The seeping sap stuck to my tiny hands and I knew I wouldn’t fall.

Two hours earlier I sat at my uncle’s desk next to a stack of magazines I had collected from the rack next to his favorite chair. I stood on my tiptoes and lifted the scissors from the container at the far end of that massive wood structure. I glanced at the scotch tape dispenser and smiled when I opened the second drawer on the right hand side of his desk. I took a piece of typing paper and laid it in front of me. All the tools I needed were at my disposal for the creation of the grandest Mother’s Day gift ever made.

I was slow and precise when I printed each letter at the top of the paper with my pencil. Word by word came to life until it was finished. The title read, “Why I Love My Mom. Happy Mother’s Day. David.”

I turned page after page seeking the best pictures that would bring a smile to my mom’s face. She didn’t smile much and that was my ultimate goal, I suppose. My gift was to brighten her day. I cut as many pictures as I could fit on that piece of paper and carefully arranged them. I bit my lower lip to help me concentrate while I pulled and tore scotch tape that would secure each piece of my artwork.

My out-stretched arms held my masterpiece before me and I was filled with pride. She would love it. And she would love me. I cleaned the area and put everything away. I didn’t want to get caught destroying magazines and getting yelled at again for making a mess.

The familiar smell of alcohol filled my nostrils when she turned and belched toward me. She set her can of Hamm’s beer on the kitchen table when I interrupted her conversation with my aunt. “What now? What do you want?”

“Look what I made for you. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” I said when I handed her my gift.

My smile ran away. My nose stung and my eyes filled with water. I blinked and refused to allow tears to drop down my face because of her reaction. “That’s it? That’s why you interrupted me?”

I can’t remember what I did for the next many minutes. It was some time later when I lifted the trashcan lid in the kitchen to throw something away. There before me was a crumpled piece of paper that made me stop and pause. A Hamm’s beer can was on top of the paper. Beer stains made the pencil marks run across the page, but I could still read the words, “Why I Love My Mom.”

And so it was, I ran away to that place of comfort at my uncle’s house. I climbed to the top of the tree in his front yard. I rode my horse and I cried. I was seven years old. That was some sixty-years ago.

I find solace in the forest and in the mountains sitting on cliffs that hang over the valleys far below. Nature has a way with calming my soul. For it is amongst the trees where that little boy inside me finds comfort.

Today, on this Mother’s Day, I think I shall go to the woods and be still.

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