Today, I’m happy to welcome an old friend to my little cyber-sandbox. She’s sharing a story that touches me every time I read it (I’ve read it a few times) and when she gave me permission to share it here, I was delighted. Enjoy!

the old tree

The Old Tree

By Carol Ann Chybowski

I was just a sapling the crisp April day they brought me home from the nursery. They had a tiny bundle-their first baby girl-and were cooing to us both about how we would grow up together.

When we were three, I was already much taller than her. But I bent my branches low so that she could swing up and climb to the stars. She was my princess, I was her horse.

When we were six, I gave her hard little nuts and her Momma taught her to make pies and cakes and all manner of good things with them. She still climbed my branches, but no longer needed a hand up. We didn’t play Princess and horse so much. The boys all wanted to be Robin Hood, and so did she.

When we were nine, my little girl won a blue ribbon at the fair for a pie she made with my nuts. She pinned it to my trunk, saying I had done as much work as she did. We were both so proud. I still have that ribbon, though it’s faded by sunlight and torn up by the wind.

When she was twelve, my princess came running to me. I hid her in my branches from the boys who were already beginning to swarm around her like honeybees on a wild rose. I shook my branches to get her attention, but she was busy looking down at those boys and forgot to play princess and horse with me.

When she was fifteen, that girl brought a boy into my branches with her. Whatever for? I am her partner! I shook my branches and he fell. She laughed at him and threw my nuts at his head.

When she was eighteen, she stopped by my side, tears in her eyes. She said something about college, but I didn’t understand her through her tears. She gave me a hug and a kiss and walked off to the car carrying a case. I wept leaves for my little girl.

Many years have passed since that day. Momma and Poppa have retired, sit on the porch all day in my shade. Least that’s how it seems. It’s so quiet here without our little girl.

Then one fine spring day, when the first daffodils and tulips had appeared beside me, and my new leaves were budding out, my little girl came back to me. She was so tall, I hardly knew her anymore. She had a fine young man by her side and a tiny bundle in her arms.

She held her baby up, and I saw a wide-eyed little boy looking back at me.

“Joey, meet Blackie,” she said.

I very carefully leaned my lowest branch toward him, and gently shook a few leaves onto his outstretched hand. He laughed and laughed, so I shook some more, and he laughed and laughed some more.  The wind came and swirled our laughter into the heavens.

The years stretch ahead of us, days of glory. Days of kites and football and jungle warfare. He will be my knight and I will be his horse, and the days of old will return.

Carol Ann Chybowski is a long time member of the Catholic Writers Guild. She has published book reviews at various websites and appears in two volumes of A Community of Voices: An Anthology of Santa Barbara. When not busy about her parish, Carol Ann can be found knitting, gardening, or on horseback.