It was a gusty spring day as we walked into the nursery area of a large home improvement store. Dangerous territory for us, my sons and me. Scott was with me on that particular day.
Like a child in a toy store, I practically raced around the aisles with my cart, grabbing at this and that until I could slow down and really look. In such a state, and with my wallet screaming in protest, I could have wiped out my checking and savings accounts in less than 15 minutes. My sons, more circumspect than I, gently attempt to hasten the thoughtful stage. Eventually I slow down, allowing reason a tentative foothold. And so it was on that day.
We stopped every now and then to look differing examples of flowers and succulents when the section labeled “Fruit Trees” caught our attention. Scott immediately grabbed a young nectarine tree. Having suffered a serious gouge in its recent past, the tree was in sad shape. Undaunted, I began looking very seriously at other nectarine trees. Some had larger trunks, others, more flowers, taller branches, more leaves. With the eye of a wanna be expert, I found what I believed to be the strongest one. “Here, Scott. Look at this one. That one is damaged and may not make it.”
“No Mom.” He said in a very soft, sad sounding voice. “She’s hurt… Her name is ‘Hope’. She’s Hoping someone will give her… give her a second chance at life.” Long pause.
I looked at Scott’s very sad and thoughtful face. Like many of us, he had been through some tough times and it was written on his face. Either ‘Hope’ told him her name, or he had named her. Either way, named things get kept, coddled and loved on for the duration of their natural lives.
Looking at Scott and ‘Hope’, I could almost see the Hope in each of them. I didn’t actually see her branches hugging him in Hope and desperation. But in my mind her branches were tentatively reaching in my direction too.
Moved by his tender heart, I looked at ‘Hope’ again.
Picking up a fair amount of wound treatment, we were soon loading ‘Hope’ and all the medications we could find for her, into my new sub compact car. She had to be made to fit and my car ended up with a few nicks and scratches, but we forged ahead.
Arriving home, we extricated ‘Hope’, found a relatively protected spot and within a few hours, planted and treated her wounds. Several times a day we ventured out to talk to and pet ‘Miss Hope’ and she seemed to truly love her new life and family.
Showered with love and attention, she prospered. Scott eventually left to continue on his life’s journey and Hope and I cared for each other.
Methodist preachers are not long at most of their appointments and soon I was moved to a new church and parsonage. For several years I thought about home and ‘Hope,’ but couldn’t get here. After 10 years, it was time to retire and I was homeward bound. I could hardly wait.
When next I beheld ‘Hope’, my heart sank. A large Persimmon tree had fallen into ‘Hope’, pressing her trunk to the ground. She had begun to grow several trunks skyward, trying to hold onto life. Various trees had grown up around her, all competing for sunlight and water, putting her life in danger.
Bowsaw and loppers in hand, I began cutting the farm out of the woods surrounding the house and what had been pastures. With fences and trees down everywhere, it was a mess.
During the first year, I cut one of ‘Hope’s’ trunks off, trimmed the rest, and removed most of the trees surrounding her. And we restarted our daily treatments and chats. Even through snow and freezing weather, we continued our renewed relationship. Scott was devastated when he arrived home for a visit. While here, he cut down more of the persimmon tree, eventually removing the main trunk and freeing ‘Hope.’
It was four years of hard work to get her trunk off the ground and remove most of the excess trunks she had put out. To this day, she still requires extra help. The pictures accompanying this article are of ‘Hope’ blooming in 2019.
I will always remember Scott saying, “Her name is Hope. She’s Hoping someone will give her… give her a second chance at life.” Such love was in his voice and eyes. Hope.
Without HOPE, how can we live a life that brings joy, wholeness and harmony to those around it. Even when it appears we are down and out, HOPE is beneficial to our spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing.
Scott, ‘Hope’, thank you for this lesson in life.
P. S. ‘Hope’ is about 20 years old now. You can see she isn’t as spry as in earlier days, but we love her as much as we always have.