How much does our childhood really influence us? What parts and pieces are so important to us that they become a fixation? This willow tree is mine.
When I was a child I loved going to my paternal grandparents. Even more I loved staying there! We awoke in the morning to a rooster crowing, the smell of bacon frying on my grandmother’s wood stove, homemade biscuits in the oven, jellies and jams she canned, and eggs any way you wanted them. Everyone called her Mom. She was a marvelous cook. Everything was made from scratch – she didn’t know what it was to buy a packaged product.
After breakfast my grandfather would take us up the little hill to the barn. Blackberries grew on the fence, strawberries in a patch above the barn. The garden was full of tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, carrots – everything you can imagine.
And then we would play – and Pap would bring his chair out and watch us. At that time you didn’t have to worry about child abduction – it was just a pleasure to him to see us have a good time. I have never felt so loved.
This willow tree was our favorite spot to play. The branches brushed the ground. We divided the area into rooms for our house. Sometimes we would swing on the branches. We gathered the grass clippings and made the outline of a house – complete with inner rooms, doors and windows.
But the willow tree was special. It ingrained itself into my memory. All those branches, all those leaves. The stories Pap told me while sitting on the arm of his chair will be memories forever – his first glimpse of Mom, the births of his children, driving a school bus, his red hair. For years I sat and listened, and took in what he said. Not only the stories themselves, but the essence of family, the importance of family.
I was 16 when Pap died. It nearly broke my heart – and I still tear up when I think about it. But I took that legacy from him and started my research. He is the reason I am where I am today with my genealogy. He made me realize that each and every person on that family tree is important – whether they lived one day or one hundred years. Pap and the willow tree – my passion has deep roots.