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Altruistic Trees

Patricia Arriaga-Rivera, Opinion Editor, Features Editor

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As a child, I quickly noticed my grandmother would often sit by the oak tree that stood proudly; enlarged with age and thick with branches and life. Spring would arise with ease and so would my grandmother from her bed and, with my help, to our tree. She’d sit near the roots while I would climb the tree, occasionally just to fall asleep with my back to the trunk. The shade increased and life would flourish, a deep contrast to my grandmother’s worsening health.

Summer was no different. If I was lucky I’d wake up before the sun and watch the sky illuminate my eyes with the same light I’d later shield myself from in the thick canopy of leaves. Grandmother would stay in the same spot, her best days were always beneath that tree.

Autumn held something different. The trees color began to change, the sun wasn’t as warming as before, and my grandmother’s eyes would become dull. Pain would engulf her senses, she could no longer bear to be out of bed. I stopped visiting the tree, even I’d become lugubrious. Grandmother she would often catch me gazing out her window and towards the tree that held our fondest of memories.

“Child” My grandmother hacked, spitting out blood into her handkerchief. A cup of water was exchanged and her placid eyes met my own fearful ones.

“Your mother spent all her time in that tree. I grew up watering it, and her climbing it.” She leaned further into her pillow. I nodded as my eyes retracted back towards the balding tree.

“My mother once told me why the trees strip themselves of their beauty.” She began.

“Trees are magical, they are much more than paper and climbing material. All year trees will take in your sadness, as well as anger. They’ll strip you of any negativity you hold in you, and in turn, will strip of their own beauty when the time comes. First, their color will change, the negativity they hold can also overwhelm them. It pours into the leaves and changes their color. The negativity then completely kills off the leaf. When they hit the ground, the tree itself is  finally letting go of every painful thing you once harbored in you..I fancied that tree.” She stopped for a moment, a grim smile playing upon her dark wrinkled lips.

“On the days in which the tree detoxicates itself all your negativity is kept in you, hence the reason we feel the way we do now.”

My grandmother died that winter, I buried her vase of ashes in the roots of the tree as she did my mother.

Later that year a hurricane hit and tore the tree down.

 

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Altruistic Trees