Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)
TITLE: Branching Out
By Emily Gibson
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However, the weather cleared as Grandpa’s health faded. His cancer came back with a vengeance and he was sidelined with a series of doctor's appointments, hospitalizations and treatment courses. He hung on to the hope of getting the tree house going by summer, drawing pictures for his grandchildren and telling them Swiss Family Robinson tree house tales. In the mean time he lost physical strength day by day.
I knew his dream needed encouragement as he fought his battle, so I borrowed library books on tree houses, and hired two young college age brothers to get things started under my dad’s supervision. I figured when he got well enough to build again, at least the risky stuff could be already done by the young guys. These brothers took their job very seriously. They took my dad's plans, worked through the details and started in. They shinnied up the tree, put up pulleys on the high branches and placed the support beams, hoisting them by pulling on ropes. Then they set to work on creating a grandfather’s best vision of a child’s playhouse sitting amid the branches.
Grandpa followed the progress through the stories his grandchildren now told him as he lay in bed. It was a diversion for him, but the far off look in his eye told me he wasn't going to be building anything in this world ever again. He was gone by mid-summer shortly before the tree house was finished. It was everything he had envisioned and more. It had a deck, a protective railing, a trap door, a staircase. We had an “open tree” celebration and I'm sure I felt Grandpa there as well, sipping lemonade with us enjoying the view.
Now, over a decade later, the tree house tilts on its foundation as a main weight bearing branch weakens. It is a daily reminder of my grown children’s favorite hang out, playing make believe, hosting tea parties and hiding in a leaf wrapped fort that touched the sky. Much like Grandpa’s once strong and robust body, the stately walnut tree is failing and frail, hanging on by the roots but its muscle tiring. It too will, at some time, come down in one of our frequent fierce windstorms, just as its nearby partner did a few years ago.
Grandpa had a list full of hopes for his grandchildren, some realized and some only imagined. His blessing was to be able to watch others create what he had envisioned and planned out. Though he teetered in the wind like the old walnut tree ready to fall to the ground, he reached out with his branches and handed off his fondest dreams to his grandchildren. The time had come to let go.
A version of this true story has already been published which I'm aware is not the intent of the challenge. I could not resist revising it for this theme as a way to honor my father's memory and share what it with other FaithWriters.
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