Invisible Roots

07/16/2012 10:58 am ET | Updated Sep 15, 2012

As I write this, two majestic maple trees that offered shade for my childhood home are being cut down. My siblings are witnessing the project, but since I now live several hours away and not knowing exactly when the tree company was going to do the deed, I could not be there. My sister sent me a text, however, which read: "feeling sick to my stomach."

My mother, who's been gone now for four years, which doesn't seem possible, used to love to recite numerous poems and lamented the fact that schools no longer required students to memorize verses. One of her favorites was Joyce Kilmer's "Trees." I can still hear her as she'd be going about her chores reciting, "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree." For some reason, even though I grew up in rural upstate New York where trees were plentiful on our property, I always thought of the two maples growing heavenward on our front lawn as Mom continued her recitation.

Like my sister, and my brothers, too, I am feeling sick to my stomach, and it's not just about how those two trees have reached their demise. Rather, it's another reminder that life goes on and there will be a time when someone will pass my childhood home, if it is still standing, and not have any idea that there were two beautiful trees that growing children were challenged to climb and then adolescent boys managed to reach the top while a mother yelled from below, "Be careful!" They will not know that there were family get-togethers below those trees while a father played his guitar and led sing-alongs.

Time that included many years of harsh winters hasn't been kind to those trees, though. Like my father, who is growing weaker daily, the two maple trees' roots are precarious, and a strong wind could cause serious damage to our house just a few feet away. The decision to have them taken down was discussed among my siblings and me, even though we all knew what would be best. Just like when we knew it was time to let our comatose mother go. Just like when we knew it was time to admit our father in a nursing home. Just like the time when we had to have Charlie, Dad's faithful companion, put down -- all in that order. And now we have to let go of another part of our history; however, we will always have the roots, my siblings and me, even if they aren't visible.