It was January of 1976. A new assignment, a new semester in junior high. The above picture handed to me with the instruction below:
Hours later, I earnestly began. Sitting at my small desk at home, my eleven year old thoughts wandered into a forest of cursive, sometime misspelled, reflection. (Word for word with all spaces and punctuation accurately transcribed – except that the original was one entire four page paragraph – from the original as saved by my wonderful mother). …. and so it began:
“I remember the old days chopping, trimming, cutting and the sounds of trucks. I was lucky I didn’t get cut because I was an old no good tree. All of my other friends were dead because they were cut. There I was all alone.
My head reached up to the sky. I was 1,000 ft tall. I know someday I will be cut, too.
I remember when I was a little shrub back in the year 1400 (after Christ). A little boy found me and planted me. The winters were especily cold because I lost all my branches.
I liked when the summer came because it was warm and I grew taller. By 5 years I was as tall as a man and still growing. I liked being alone it was peaceful with the little boy and his family Every day he’d give me water his name was Jaheo (ja-jhe-o). He seemed to be a very nice boy. Some times their would be accidents like a stone hitting me and making me fall.
When jaheo’s father died I was left alone for weeks because his father was away somewhere when he died. I got thirsty pretty quick. I nerly died till these kids found me and said, I wonder how long he’s been without water he looks sick. So they went to get me some water I saved some of it because I would get thirsty later on. When they came back they looked very sad. But Jaheo still gave me water and took care of me. I grew fast in 10 years. I was 50 feet tall.
By that time Jaheo had to go to college and his mother would take care of me. She was very nice to me she talked to me. I really wished I could talk back to her but tree’s are not supose to talk.
One day these men came to jaheos house and said something bad happened to jaheo. His mother couldn’t believe it and slammed the door in their face. I didn’t see him again.
It was worse for me. Who would feed and water me? On July 16th, 1559, he died. I wished I could say goodbye to him. His mother died a couple of years after that.
I was full grown once again I heard those chopping and saw sounds I said my last words to myself because I knew I would get cut. I said, Thanks to Jaheo I lived this long. Farewell.”
So, that’s what was going on in my brain a long time ago. A young boy, sitting in his room, pushing through the awkward preteen years as most do.
The story doesn’t make sense. Or, does it? The original instruction was specific with the word “imagine” … and I have always loved that word. Even at my young age at the time, I was fascinated with the word. Music evoked imagination. Drawing summoned imagination. Creating words generated previously unknown imaginable worlds. Imagining love in all forms warmed cold moments in time.
Within the framework of imagination, this story was a masterpiece in my eleven year old world. Quite possibly, re-visiting it today with a larger desk, life issues beyond a seventh-grade assignment, and aging bark on my tree trunk, I can once again thank Jaheo for pulling me through.
Imaginary as some may be, there is always hope in those who have been there for you.
Grow very tall. Imagine your story.