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Room to Grow

Story ID:3251
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Fort Lee NJ USA
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Room to Grow

The little northern white cedar struggled to reach its full
potential. A gust of wind caused it to bend and shake. I felt bad
for it, because I was the one holding it back.

The spring after my first wife Georgia died, a small package
arrived in the mail. The return address was to the funeral home
where Georgia's service was held. I opened the letter that came
with the package and read, "We at Pattie's Funeral Home understand
the pain you feel after to loss of your wife Georgia. In her memory,
we want you to have the enclosed tree. Plant it in her name in the
place of your choosing. Although one life has ended, this tree will
grow new life in Georgia's memory - a dedication to her time here
on Earth."

I opened the box and pulled out a five inch sapling, protected
in plastic. The package also came with instructions for planting
it and a small packet of fertilizer. It was a thoughtful gift, but
where would I plant it. I didn't want to plant it in the yard. My son
and I rented one half of a duplex. What if we moved again? The tree
and the life it memorialized would be left behind. I decided to plant
it in a large flower pot on our deck.

The first summer in the pot, the little tree doubled its size,
but the first winter was hard on it. By spring, the tips of its
evergreen branches turned brown and the needles fell off. Spring
came. The weather warmed. The little tree turned green again and grew

The little tree flourished in the pot. It's now a foot and a
half (46 centimeters) tall. It has grown, but I suspect it should
be taller. The little tree is root-bound. With no room for growth,
its roots have become tangled, matted, and grown in circles. I don't
want to plant it in the ground, but I know it's time. I'm limiting
its potential.


I recently started a new job. My new position is much closer to
home and will give me more time to spend with my wonderful Ginny. It's
the tenth time I've changed jobs during my career in telecommunications.
Four of these opportunities required me to move to other cities,
provinces, states, and in one case, a new country. Each move was
hard. I struggled to meet new friends, adjust to new environments,
and learn new things, but in the end, I grew. I've seen many great
cities and experienced things many of my childhood friends never will.
I'll see a scene on the news, recognize it, and can say, "I was there
once." The world is a smaller place than the one I imagined in the
small fishing village that sheltered me as a young boy. In each city
I've lived, I have friends that I stay in touch with. They are a part
of my journey in this life.


I stared at Georgia's memory tree. "Well little fella, I believe
it's time to give you more space. You need to grow. You need to

I'll put the little tag, with Georgia's name and dates on it, around
a limb. It's right for it to grow in the backyard of the last place
Georgia lived, the last place she planted her feet and said, "This is
home!" The little tree is like me. By staying in one pot, it is limited.
We were both root-bound. It's now free to grow as I did.

Michael T. Smith