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  • Writer's pictureSharon Krasny

The Giving Tree

I love birds! I spend a lot of time feeding and coaxing a variety to stop by my yard. They repay me in song, beautiful colors, and reseeding sunflowers throughout the yard. Typically I will find morning glories in quite random places. Our pond is now filled with water lilies from the neighbor’s pond all brought by birds. Yet the all-time best job the birds have done with seeds is found in the ditch at the edge of our property. There I found a little mimosa.

One bird carried this seed from the mimosa tree Kathleen grew from a seed. She was an amazing woman. Nothing ever stopped her until her body gave out two years ago. Kathleen was my domestic goddess with a green thumb and power tools. She found me two months after my mother passed away. She took me under her wing. No matter where in the world I went, she remembered me with care packages and magazine articles. When I had children, she sent them each a card with $10 every birthday and Christmas. She earned the title Grandma Kathleen.

Every summer I loaded the car, drove six hours across state lines, and introduced my children to the creative bustle always happening in her yard. She would send me home with a seedling, or craft and a head buzzing with ideas.

When she died, the world lost someone larger than life. At 5'2" she was fearless in renovation and an sculptor with pruning shears. She balanced her innovation with an enormous heart and compassion. Many strays found a second chance at her door. There was always room for one more. She respected people as individuals, artists as professionals, nature as a gift.

People like her are rare. They walk the earth, quietly leaving behind a much better place. It is important to hear what her life had to say. I am only glad that I had been close enough to listen.

One of the seedlings she gave me was a mimosa sapling from the giant mimosa in her driveway. I brought it home, planted it and for years enjoyed the pink fragrant feathers each summer. Last year, we lost many trees from heavy rains. Virginia clay isn’t ideal for protecting roots from saturation. I watched my mimosa struggle to hang on. Last year was the first anniversary of Kathleen’s passing. Only a few blossoms bloomed. This year the branches never managed a leaf.

Instead of cutting down the mimosa, our family chose to knitbomb instead. We knit or crochet rectangles and put them on the branches. While we stitch we think of those we love in our lives. The tree has become our Mimosa Memory Tree. On Facebook I made the offer for anyone to contribute. People make their own tribute in memory of or honoring someone very special in their lives. This legacy of Kathleen is beautiful like her.

The mimosa memory tree reminds me to give comfort to the strays, who show up in my life, bring courage to the weary and confused, take time to show thoughtfulness, and always remember to encourage ideas and possibilities in myself and others. When we live a life committed to passion, then we will inspire and transform our little piece of the world. These are the lessons found from her life lived powerfully, simply, honestly.

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