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Writer of fiction that reflects the light of Jesus. Sometimes the grit mixes with beauty to make up a picture of this life. That's where my fiction lives.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Robert Frost's Bloom (short story about unity)

My Granddad planted a tree when my mom was born. He transplanted the sapling from his childhood home across the state. It was just a normal, average oak tree. But he loved that tree. 

"One of these days I'm going to die," Granddad would say. "And I want you to make my coffin out of Robert Frost."

The tree was named Robert Frost. 

Well, Granddad died five years ago. And that old tree is still rooted in the front yard. Apparently people don't just have their own coffins made anymore. We buried him in a silver casket. Far from his wishes. But what could we do?

After the funeral the family started fighting. Right there at the lunch. Soil hadn't even filled in the hole of his grave yet. They fought for five years without stopping. It was all over money and things. Stupid if you ask me. Every holiday it would start all over again. One uncle was suing an aunt over the family china. A cousin no longer spoke to his mother because of $1,000. Harsh words spoken from mouths full of mashed potatoes. Angry gestures from hands holding a forkful of beans. 

When I got weighed down by all of the fighting I would go outside, sit under Robert Frost's branches. In the summer they were heavy with leaves and acorns. In the fall they held orange and red flags that waved in the wind. In the winter the bare limbs twisted and curled their way up toward the sky. 

The family gathered for dinner on Easter. It was the fifth Easter after his death.

"I'm not trying to fight you on this, Edwin," Aunt Leigh steamed. "But you must understand. Daddy wanted us to sell the estate."

"Leigh, you're sounding awfully money grubbing." Uncle Edwin.

"But if you read the will, it clearly states what we're to do with the house."

"Exactly. He wanted us to make money off it. Do you know how much we could make by turning it into a Bed and Breakfast?"

"Now who sounds money grubbing?"

"Well," my mother. "I think it would be nice to let Elle live on the property. You know, keep it up and all that."

"Mom," I said. "I don't know that I'd like that."

"Besides," Edwin. "It wouldn't be fair. Elle getting it and us...well...I'd feel a little cheated."

"Oh, no." My mother sipped her coffee. "We'd expect Elle to pay rent."

"Well," Leigh. "I just think that you're all reading the will wrong."

"Is it an interpretation issue?" I asked. "Why is it such a problem?"

"Oh, honey. You really don't understand. You're too young."

"But, mom, I'm 35."

"Uh huh. Just leave this to us to figure out."

"You don't seem to be doing that so well now, are you?" I walked out. I wanted to sit under Robert Frost.

It felt like nothing would ever make my family get things together. They would fight over the house until that was settled. Then they would find something else to argue over. And none of it really mattered at all.

How could I tell them that I carried the next generation in my womb? It might cause more problems. They didn't approve of my husband and his family. The lima bean sized offspring didn't need to enter this family. She or he didn't deserve to watch aunts and uncles and grandparents clawing each other apart with hateful words and spite.

I walked outside. The air was sharp, just cold enough for a sweater. But the sun was shining. I tipped my face up to catch the warm glow.

The sun was behind Robert Frost's branches. I had to squint as I walked toward my sitting spot. I lowered myself, letting my back rub against the course bark. I rested my body against the solid trunk. The smell of the tree and the earth triggered my mind to memories of childhood. Climbing into the limbs, reading books under the shade of leaves, running rings around the base, leaping over roots. I closed my eyes and absorbed the silence and calm.

After a few moments my heart stopped thudding, my anxious jitters subsided. I realized that I no longer cared what happened with the money or the house or the china. All that was worthless. I just wanted to sit with my family and share memories of my Granddad. To tell stories and recite his wise words. To let the next generation in on how great a man he was. All the rest was just a vapor. It was nothing.

I looked up and saw the gold dots of bloom on the tips of Robert Frost's fingers. The hope of spring nestled in my heart.

Something new was coming.



4 comments:

  1. I love it!! Such great imagery, and sadly, a normality in so many families.

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  2. Yeah. And I was trying to tie it into how the Church squabbles. :(

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  3. You're not kidding about Church squabbles...and you're right...something new IS coming. And it has nothing to do with all of the, excuse my informality, CRAP, that we fight about. Great writing too, hon, you are truly gifted.

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  4. Thanks, Kendra!

    I really hope that we're able to work together as a BODY of Christ to accomplish the will of God...and part of that will is unity! Jesus prayed for that for goodness sake!

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