By Pamela Loxley Drake
This Neff Road tree has roots yet does not need water. It is huge yet does not grow in the ground. It is in fact neither coniferous nor deciduous. Well, it really is not a plant, per se. Yet it is a tree.
My sister and I often talk about “who-lived-where-when.” I had called her on Saturday asking her if she remembered a man who I could not remember where he lived or his name. Of course, she understands my vagueness and told me she would think about it. Later in the day his name hit me like a ton of bricks. My sister in Indiana was in bed, so I could not share the wonderful news that indeed my brain is still working. The next day when we talked about it, the discussion did not get very far, because we only had vague bits and pieces that we each remembered. So I got in touch with Janet Bashore in hopes that she could fill in the blanks. My dad worked for Janet’s dad Lloyd when he drove the milk truck. A branch on the tree.
This happens all the time. It happens to all of us. I cannot remember something about my grandmother, so I ask Alma Lea. Perhaps something comes up about the old neighborhood. I ask Janet or Lowell. I see a name in the newspaper and try to figure out how to find out if it is who I think it is by contacting, via online communications, an old neighbor, family member, classmate. Whew! A few more branches.
Perhaps I see a name on Facebook of someone I knew long ago. I see that they are a friend of one of my friends, so I contact that friend and ask if it is indeed who I think it is. Man, I hope you followed that. I’m not sure I did. Again, another branch.
Well, by now you know that my tree is not a family tree but a tree of people who lived on Neff Road, attended Painter Creek Church, went to FM or just happened to be a friend of the family…or someone else’s family. Branches. Important branches. Important because they fill in the spaces in our lives. They draw together to form that trunk of the tree which is my life and that of my family. I might even begin the tree with Brenda and me, since we are at the beginning of what I remember of Neff Road.
I am grateful for my computer. So many people tell me that they do not want to learn to email or do Facebook. I truly feel sorry for them for the opportunities they miss in expanding their neighborhood tree to reach out to those who have moved away or who are children of those who have passed. It is indeed a gift. I have gained back into my life those who would probably have drifted away into the past. They would be one of those names June and I try to remember. Not now. Now they are even better acquaintances, since we are no longer children and are able to leap beyond the past into the present.
The Neff Road tree is not just my tree. It is a tree that also includes you. You are the branch that holds the present, the past and perhaps the future. Plant your roots deeply in embracing those in your life. Your ‘tree’ just might go on forever.