As I have often stated I never had the privilege of living in a house until I got married. One of the things I instantly loved was our big, sliding kitchen window. Growing up we had a tiny, enclosed galley kitchen. My mother cooked incredible meals in there made from scratch, but I longed for a kitchen window that looked out upon a yard. After we bought our house I begged my husband to let us put in a little koi pond, and now every time I am at the sink I have a view of double waterfalls, our five beautiful fish swimming languidly in the water, and often water lilies in bloom. A great black wolf statue stands majestically at the top of the falls, and to his side is a large white statue of St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Animals and Ecology. He is depicted in such a way that he appears to be smelling the flowers, with his head turned facing Gubbio the wolf. It is serenity by its very nature and when I open our kitchen window I can hear the soothing sound of water flowing over the huge rocks. In the mornings I often hear birds singing or the chattering of squirrels. On summer nights I can hear the rhythmic, deep “brrrraaaaaaap” of toads calling to one another. And I love to watch dragonflies drinking from the pond. Before this the only thing back there had been a solitary fig tree. We built our pond around it and I had the workers use the three massive slabs of leftover stone to make me a bench underneath the branches. As I name all my trees, he became known as Mr. Figgy. I spent over a decade watching him bloom and grow. In the summers I’d watch him become so bushy I learned to prune him. In the fall the three of us delighted in watching the squirrels gorging themselves on the literal fruits of his labor. This last spring I taught my child how to climb him. My daughter has adored Mr. Figgy and I had visions of building a tree house around him. Then the arborist delivered some devastating news: Mr. Figgy was getting long in the tooth. He had already been treated for some type of borer worms. We thought he was better but then she pronounced he now had mold. “Oh NO not Mr. Figgy!” my little one cried as I silently echoed her sentiments. My mind traveled back to that book “The Giving Tree” I’d read so often as a child. With great sadness, I realized Mr. Figgy did not have much left to give. And so I gave the order, feeling like a cold-blooded killer assassinating a beloved friend. I wish I had taken a picture of him. My little one and I went outside, told him what he’d meant to us, and then said good-bye. “Can we keep a piece of him?” she asked. And then we heard the chainsaw roar and could not bear to look. After it was quiet I got a call from our gardner who said, “he had something for his Princessa” and so I called my little one outside with me. The picture you see here is what he gave her. It is literally Mr. Figgy’s heart that was cut from one side of his base. Manuel said he had done nothing to shape it but when he noticed it was so perfect he wanted us to have it. I love what Saint Basil, the 4th century Greek bishop of Caesarea, once said:
”A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”
Mr. Figgy was so much more than a tree; he was a dear friend whom I aspire to be like more. I am immensely grateful we have something so special to remember him by. Mr. Figgy gave us all he had: his buds in the spring, his shade in the summer, his fruits in the fall and, in the winter of his life, he gave us his heart.