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I have discovered that my favorite tree is the Japanese maple. I just recently learned this on a trip to San Francisco with my bff MiMi and her Niece and Grandniece (a set of truly fabulous people).  We spent the last Sunday going to the Japanese Tea Gardens, the SF Botanical Gardens, then lunch at Far East in Chinatown (a fabulous place with private booths that have curtains), then the finale’ was a trip to Alcatraz, which I had thought about but never done in the 20 previous years that I lived here.  I had a difficult time with all the walking as my knees have become very arthritic and I have a bunion on my left foot the size of an ottoman, but I did the best I could to keep up and I spent the day taking pictures with my eyes and my brain.

The fact that I am declaring my favorite tree is neither notable nor very interesting I am sure, but to me it represents something else.  I am now participating in my own thought life again.  In the previous two years after the death of my husband, I could not make such simple declarations. They seemed equivalent to answering all of the things people asked me immediately following his death and leading up to the funeral.  Questions like: What time do you want to go to the funeral home?, Do you want to sleep here or there? Are you hungry? What do you want to eat? Do you want to serve snacks at the service? What kind?  What can I do for you?  All of these questions seemed like some advanced calculation based on string theory or some other such foreign math concept.  The best I could do when I could muster an answer, was “I don’t know.”

These days, there is more and more that I know.  I am able to look at things and situations, take them in and do some evaluating, and make a decision that I feel good about. Is it the right decision? I have no way of knowing.  But I do know that it will be the best decision that I can make for myself with the information I have at the time. And I also know that no matter what the outcome is, it can be altered, amended, or changed.  If I don’t like something, I can change it, leave it, move it, or trash it.  I DO have choices.

Most recently I made the decision to quit my job and move from Texas (where I moved to marry Paul) and drive to California on a wing and a prayer. The finances didn’t turn out the way I thought they would as a lot of unexpected bills and repairs, etc. came up along the way. But I still did it. And even though I had a couple of meltdowns about it, I am not sorry.  I have little money left, but I have a place to stay and food to eat, and some very lovely scenery to look at. I’ve had 2 phone interviews and one possible job and I know that something will work out as long as I keep working at it.  And while I work and wait, I can sit and admire the lovely plants and trees on my friends deck. Or, I can drive down to the ocean and just stare at the beautiful blue Pacific. I’m home again, and while it isn’t where I grew up…it is where I feel most at home.

I’m starting over again, with a future in front of me and endless possibilities.  A lot has happened, a lot has changed, but the Japanese maple is still here...and it is my favorite tree now.

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Comment by Morgana (Janet) on June 22, 2014 at 3:29pm

Wow Ali. Very well said and so true for all of us.

Comment by AEDforever (Ali) on June 21, 2014 at 4:04pm

Thank you Dianne!  What a lovely metaphor for me and for all of us.  I have a second set of leaves just waiting to grow!  You are a gem my friend.

Comment by Dianne in Nevada on June 21, 2014 at 8:58am

This is lovely, Ali.  The Japanese maple is a beautiful and tender tree that requires special care. Under extremely stressful conditions it may drop all of its leaves - but it has a secondary set of leaves waiting for just that time. The tree is protecting itself, and telling you that it needs attention. I love that connection to us widows ... we may lose ourselves under stressful conditions ... we may look different, act different, feel different.  But we, too, have a secondary "life" just waiting for us ... when we're ready ... when it is presented to us ... when we can accept it.

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