Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Cathy Tree

Just when I thought spring had sprung, it turns out Mother Nature has a surprise for in store for us and it turns out that they say a Canadian cold front is headed our way and will bring snow to Portland this weekend.

I doubt it will be a lot, but they were talking about records when we got snow at the end of March, so I'm sure this will break some record if we really do get snow in mid April in Portland proper.

Which brings me to my Cathy Tree.

I mentioned a long time ago that my best friend, Cathy, died in June 2005 of an unexpected massive heart attack. I'm grateful that we had seen her about a month before her death and she got to meet my daughter. Our visits in Chicago were never long enough because I always had other family obligations and of course she had work. In one of those weird things where you wonder in hindsight if she somehow "knew," I got home to Portland to find a telephone message she'd left while we were flying home that said all the things you'd want to say to a friend you were never going to see again -- the she loved me and my family, that our friendship meant so much to her, how much she appreciated us making time to visit her and her parents to introduce them to Ellie, and of course how beautiful and perfect she thought Ellie was. :) It was one of those voicemails where you hit save because they just make your heart sing.

It was the last time I heard Cathy's voice. We exchanged a few emails -- she was hoping to stop off in Portland after a business trip to British Columbia that fall and I was teasing her about a potential love interest whose name she wouldn't tell me because she didn't know where, if anywhere, things were going. We called him Secret Agent Man. :)

Cathy's parents were generous, as always, and shared some of her ashes with us, which sounds kind of creepy but wasn't. That fall, the best time to plant trees here because the winter rains really help them settle in, we chose a magnolia variety called "Vulcan" which promised deep red flowers. (I'd had a dogwood that promised "pink" flowers and turned out to be pinkish white, so I figured that the Vulcan would be more vivid and I was right. The flowers are a glorious fuschia.)

We planted a bit of Cathy with the Magnolia, and so it became my Cathy Tree. I look forward to the day when it's big enough to lean on as Rose does in the Rose Is Rose comic strip.

Anyway, this long ramble is because my Cathy Tree has its first really glorious bloom this season. Its first couple springs, there were just a handful of flowers. This year, I stopped counting when I hit 27 and realized that was less than a third of the buds on the tree. About half of them are open now, and it's as beautiful as Cathy was.

But I find myself worrying about the cold front coming in because I think it might kill the rest of the buds and will almost definitely kill the flowers that are already open.


But there's always next spring to look forward to if the cold weather does its worst. And plenty of memories of My Cathy to keep me until then.


Anonymous said...

That is a sad but beautiful story, and I think the tree is a nice memorial to your friend. Trees take root, bloom, and grow, just as friendships; so the tree is a good reminder of your time with her.

Shari said...

What a beautiful story, and timely for me to read today as I just came back from meeting Penny at the college. She was glad to hear I had gotten in touch with you. I hope you are feeling well.

Sherril said...


I've missed you. Been busy with life.