Daddy Dwight’s Tree
By Sandi McBride
I was on my way to my Dad’s house yesterday afternoon, the top down, wind blowing my hair all over creation (and me not caring), when I got behind a slow moving log truck filled with freshly cut pine trees. The aroma that drifted back to me was overwhelming.
It was my childhood unraveling like ribbons and wrapping themselves around my heart. I could see us, the cousins, pinching off little balls of Amber and chewing them like gum. The amber colored blood of the pine would have been hardened in a century or more to make fine jewelry, but for then, it was a tasty treat … yes, I did say tasty.
It was as though we were living in a primeval forest and scrounging for sustenance at any source. You will forgive us, we were children. We also chewed Indian Pepper and drank from Honeysuckle Flowers.
But the memory that was so strong that it brought tears to my eyes was of Daddy Dwight’s tree. It was a very tall long leaf pine that stood at the crest of a hill above Mammy and Daddy Dwight’s big old farmhouse.
You traveled up a steeply graded dirt road went past the gas pumps on the left that serviced the farm equipment, past the big old barn on the right, and around the curve and there he stood, too tall and straight to climb or to see the top without craning your neck painfully.
Now, the pines surrounded us on three sides but this one old tree stood sentinel all on his on. He stood near the highway (145) and could be seen for miles. This pine tree was not for cutting, he was for viewing. And we could view him from five miles away atop a fast dropping highway hill as we traveled to our grandparents from some far away state we lived in.
Every summer of our young lives was spent with them, and we eagerly watched for the first sighting of his lofty branches which signaled that our arrival would be soon. That tree stood for so long that we thought he was indestructible. And that Daddy Dwight, though bed ridden when I was in my mid twenties, was destined to be with us forever.
I will never forget that he held my first born son in his arms as lovingly as that big old tree of his held the birds nests in his gnarly boughs. That when my boys were two and three, although he couldn’t sit up anymore, he motioned for them to come to him and stroked their little heads with love shining in his eyes amidst the tears.
Daddy Dwight passed away a year or so later. On the night he died, the big old pine breathed his last and fell across the dirt road adjacent to the highway, humbled and brought low. After Daddy Dwight’s funeral, someone had the foresight to cut slices from the big old tree, and mark them as Daddy Dwight’s tree and each grandchild received one in memory of both Daddy Dwight and his Tree.
So there I was, traveling down Angelus Road and this load of pines had me weepy. It was like receiving a hug from my grandfather, those memories evoked by a log truck traveling slowly through the forest of the Sand Hills.
— Sandi McBride is a resident of Jefferson, who blogs regularly and enjoys her garden and her furry and feathered friends. She is a wife and mother of two sons.
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