I’ve thought a lot about how I wanted to talk about the Oak Tree poem and what thoughts came to mind while reading it. It’s just taken a long time to actually start typing it.
My sister that is just two years older than me wrote a paper for one of her English classes in college that had to be about a struggle that she had gone through. She started out the paper with this sentence, “I learned about paying a mortgage when I was 14 years old.” I remember when she had me read that paper after she had turned it in. We sat and had a good cry together talking about the struggles of our teenage years.
The “mighty wind” that blew my family tree for most of my junior and high school years was one of financial stress and uncertainty. My father’s lifelong dream was to start his own company. After years of success working under “the man” he decided to give it a shot. I was almost eleven when he went out on his own. Unfortunately, that year was the last year that my family had any financial security. My parents did their best to shield us from the wind, but we suffered as a family and learned to each carry some of the load. There were many times that my babysitting money would go towards things we needed as a family, like groceries and bills. We never went without the major necessities such as food and shelter, but I spent those years keenly aware of the ever present wind. I was afraid of that wind. It scared me to think of what it could do to us if it didn’t stop blowing. There were small periods of reprieve, but the wind would always come back. I wish I could say that it finally stopped blowing, but I think my parents are just used to it now. Almost like it would be too quiet if the wind was to cease and they wouldn’t know what to do with the silence.
As I went away to college I didn’t notice the wind as much because I wasn’t home to feel it all the time. It was still there, but I was becoming my own tree. It was only after I graduated and started my career that I started to grasp what I had learned because of all the years of facing the wind. Sure, I knew how to save, make wise financial decisions, and take care of myself. But the most important thing those windy years taught me was the strength that came from my family tree working together. Facing the wind together made it seem a lot less daunting, a lot less scary.
Last year about this time, the wind picked up in my little family tree. As I sat on the couch holding one of our month old babies, my husband came home early from work one Friday afternoon, too early. As he walked in I was surprised to see him, but happy. He stopped me before I could get too excited that he was home early and told me that all but a handful of employees had been let go that day. The company had essentially folded. This was before we really knew how bad the economy was going to get and we felt so alone in our struggle. At first we were hopeful that this would be a good change for us. But as weeks stretched into months I began to curse the wind. Why? I seriously would have welcomed a different wind in my life. It’s different facing the wind as one of the main trunks. I have a new found respect for my parents. I never realized how much wind they did block from touching us. It’s scarier. It requires more faith and trust. But, I turned to the lessons that I had learned from my other family tree, the lessons that became the roots for my own family tree. We face the wind together. I know from years of experience that this wind can’t knock my family tree down.
1 hour ago