Monday, August 19, 2013

The Sharon Tree

I have a tendency to overthink most everything and that drove my wife, Sharon, — and pretty much everyone else who's spent more than a few moments with me — stark raving mad. It was my habit to prod and question behaviors, to figure out motivations and seek meaning in places where there really wasn't any meaning.

Once even a counselor noted my proclivity for relativity. Two decades ago, a girlfriend and I were in such a severe relationship crash that coupons to Olive Garden couldn't even help. When she fell into some Lifetime Network fugue, she urged us to go to the counselor, thinking that talking it over it would work. He listened to me for a while and said I had an issue with overanalyzing everything. “What do you mean by that?” I asked. “See,” he responded.

And, despite my desire for answers, I seldom really find the meaning and instead just muddle along.

But I may have found a major answer perched in a Bradford pear tree outside my window.

When my wife and I bought the house where I live now eight years ago, two large Bradford trees sat majestically in the yard. It was small consolation for the move we made. When my wife fell sick, we left a much larger house with five bedrooms, an in-ground pool, a step down den and nice landscaping for a small three-bedroom home. The trees helped at the new house. My wife loved those trees.

Within the first month of living there, however, a windstorm toppled one of the trees and it made my wife cry. A couple of months after my wife died the following summer, I came home to see the other tree had blown over. I stood in my driveway and lost it. I shook my fist and blamed God, analyzing that the downing of the tree was symbolic of the complete collapse of my life. I had just lost my wife and now a tree? The meaning was too intense.

I placed that overthinking onto a tree, analyzing that it meant so much more, when in fact it fell simply because those types of trees are top heavy and tend to fall in high winds.

I soldiered on, though. The following summer, on Aug. 18, 2007, which would have been her birthday, I planted another Bradford pear tree where the fallen tree sat. I called it the Sharon Tree in honor of her and watched it grow. Again with the analyzing: I equated the tree's growth with my own recovery.

The tree continued to grow and this spring a bird built its nest in the branches and I overthought. The bird's nest and its baby chicks symbolized life. Things were turning around; I had restored life.

My reasonings would have driven my wife nuts.

And here's the answer to it all. The bird laid its eggs in the nest and I continued on my rant about life replacing death. The eggs hatched and I watched as the tiny birds grew. And as they grew, they chirped. And at first, it was cute.

But then, the chirping didn't stop. I played the APBA baseball games late at night and maybe the light I kept on while playing the game shined onto them. The tree was just outside the window. The birds continued to chirp well after midnight and I was often serenaded to attempted sleep by the shrill, pleading noises of a nest full of baby birds.

I think that my wife would have gotten a kick out of it all. I place so much meaning on everything when things probably just happen because it's the way it's supposed to. People pass away, trees fall over, birds chirp. It's just nature and we can't out think it.

Briefly, I toyed with the idea that the birds' calls symbolized my wife's reminder to quit thinking so much. But I quickly stopped that. More so because the birds were driving me insane rather than a complete understanding of how things worked.

And now, a day after what would have been my wife's birthday, and six years after I planted that tree, I think I understand something a bit more. Maybe I need to quit overanalyzing everything and let the birds chirp, let life move on.

But then, maybe I'm overanalyzing this too ...

1 comment:

  1. Pear Tree

    Silver dust
    lifted from the earth,
    higher than my arms reach,
    you have mounted.
    O silver,
    higher than my arms reach
    you front us with great mass;

    no flower ever opened
    so staunch a white leaf,
    no flower ever parted silver
    from such rare silver;

    O white pear,
    your flower-tufts,
    thick on the branch,
    bring summer and ripe fruits
    in their purple hearts.

    Hilda Doolittle