*First appeared on We Write Fantasy. Reposted with permission.
Read more of Jennifer’s writings at her website – https://jennifersilverwood.com/.
Mama first told her about the magic in trees after Papa disappeared in the flood.
“Listen good, Lou,” she had whispered, “the tree’s memory is longest. They got roots dug deep in that old earth. Water washes us away but the trees remember.”
There was no headstone for Papa, just a tree Mama carved his Christian name into.
CONRAD LAFAYETTE MASON
Sap bled over the letters often.
“See the tears the trees shed for your Papa?” Mama had said.
Lou took her papa’s knife to the bark, carefully carving Papa’s name over and over.
She marked moments in her life under that tree.
Carving Papa’s name with their dog, Rusty licking her tears away.
Carving Papa’s name again with her first boyfriend pressing kisses down her neck.
Sometimes, when she was alone, Lou swore the tree whispered with her father’s voice.
They buried Mama under that tree years later, adding her name in strong block letters under Papa’s.
LETTIE WOOD MASON
A new dog and boyfriend stood by her side as she insisted on carving Mama’s name.
“The trees remember best,” she whispered to the boyfriend, to the dog and the wind whispering through the branches with Mama’s voice.
The family thought it unhealthy she took so many trips back to the old farmhouse alone. They wanted her to bring her boyfriend. But she couldn’t bring him and hear Papa and Mama’s voices.
She brought her dog instead, for the family’s peace of mind. The tree liked her dog.
“I won’t forget,” she promised the aged bark, cheek pressed to the freshly carved names of her parents.
Years passed, adding wrinkles and gray hair to hear head. Her children accepted her need to visit “the tree” as they called it, though none understood “Mama’s obsession.”
She laughed with the tree about her silly children.
“They worry I’m getting on in years, too old to come up here alone. Too feeble to use a knife.” Her cackle sounded brittle.
The wind whispered back Papa’s hearty chuckle with Mama’s sing-song gale.
When Lou pressed her ear against the tree, she listened to the creaks and groans that seemed to promise, “Soon.”
Lou smiled, agreeing, “Soon.”
Death didn’t frighten her like it frightened her children and grandchildren.
In those final weeks with sickness eating away her limbs, she often told them, “Time turns us all to dust, but the trees remember. When I’m gone, listen for me by the tree.”
Her children buried Lou beside her mother, beneath the tree she had loved so much.
They carved her name in strong block letters, just like she had wanted.
LOUISE MASON BIRCH
They took turns each month, visiting Mama’s grave and carving over her name.
The tree cried tears of sap along with them.
The wind often whispered with her voice, “Remember.”
So they did.
I love this so much, and hope you did, too. Jen is a fabulous writer and such an awesome person. Read more of her writings at her website – https://jennifersilverwood.com/.
Thanks for letting me share, Jen!