Old Oak Tree By: Lancia Stewart
“I love it, Bill!” My wife squealed with excitement as I unraveled the red silk blindfold from around her deep brown eyes. It was her dream home.
As I hugged her tight and I watch our next generation of two girls and two boys run around the yard filled with an array of green vegetation and spring flowers which were at the peak of blooming. The vibrant pinks, reds, and purple flowers gave the house an artistic look. It was like we were standing still in an art exhibit, looking at a Realism Style portrait with astonishing color pop. I thought back to the many years we drove past this house. I looked up to God with reverence at the sunny skies that held huge fluffy Cumulus clouds and rays of light that shined through. There was a small opening with a beam of light shining toward my position as if God was allowing his big spiritual ears to hear my silent thank you and prayers for all his help. I was overwhelmed with emotions. I know that I had just given my family, my legacy something extraordinary. I looked off to the left and my son who was 5 years of age was sitting there staring at this massive oak tree right at the entryway of the home. I stood there next to him.
“Daddy?” He called in his little sweet innocent voice.
“About how old do you think this tree is?” He asked. Caressing its bark with his hands that we’re just like mine, but the tiny version.
“This tree has to be over 100 years son” I replied kneeling next to him and staring into his deep brown eyes that resembled my wife’s eyes.
“Well, so let’s see. This tree is big, brown, and as tall as the eye can see. If you look down in the grass, you can see its brown roots sticking out in some areas of the dirt. The tree branches are long and strong and most importantly you count the rings on a tree to determine its age son.” I said rubbing the nearest exposed root closer to me. “This tree sounds like you daddy. Big, tall, and strong.” My son giggled and ran off.
I continue to stand there. My mind drifted back to when I was a young boy. My daddy was killed in Iraq. He had sacrificed his life for his men on a mission. When I got the news. I was not sad. I was proud because that was the kind of man my father was. He sacrificed everything for his family and was the best husband to my mother. He received a Purple Heart award which sits on my grandmother’s white mantelpiece next to my grandfather's medals from serving in Vietnam. I could just visualize my granddad sitting under the old oak trees that protected his home. He would sit out there in his red plaid and white t-shirt, blue overalls, and brown rustic hat. He would sit in his old wooden rocking chair he carved himself by hand and watch the stars while smoking his Cherrywood tobacco pipe.
“Come one over here and sit with you grandpa boy.” He would say to me. Rocking with the melody of the crickets and frog’s chirps and croaks. “You see, this here old tree. This tree tells a story. You see when I was a boy about your age. I used this for shade after working the fields all hot day long. Na, I use it to cool me off and watch the stars when ya grandma be in the house cooking Sunday dinners for the church house. Who needs to watch a picture show when you got God's creations to stare at? One day when you get some kids you make sure you find a house with a big ole strong Oak Tree. Just like this here one."
Grandpa would then ruffle my big noggin and we’d watch the stars while grandma sang old church hymns that rang out the kitchen window into the muggy Florida air. I learned so much from my grandpa. The most profound memory I have of him is his love for my grandma. He would slow dance with my grandma under the stars by the same tree, most of the time their slow danced rhythm was to an acapella melody of love that replayed in their loving hearts. I would lay on the wooden kitchen window and smile at the laughs and romantic conversations that they embraced. Now as a man, it was my turn to embark on this opportunity with my very own family. The first thing I wanted to do was make my kids a tire swing just like the one daddy made me at grandpa's house. He had taken an old tire from pops tractor and hauled it across the strongest branch with some rope. I remember the day my wife and I got married under that same tree. My tire swing was still there. I was a little boy who became a man under that same Oak tree. Later that evening as we began to get moved in. I tucked my kids into bed. My wife and I read to them our usual bedtime story. Which was made up most of the time because our imagination was so creative. As they drifted off to sleep my wife stayed behind and went into the basement. After wrestling through some boxes. I found granddaddy’s old rocking chair. I dusted it off and carried it outside under the Old Oak tree. I sat in the chair and felt my granddad’s presence as the wind blew randomly out of nowhere.
“Would you like some company?” I heard my wife’s sweet voice say.
“Why yes, I would I responded getting up to move her chair right there close to mine.
“You forgot something,” My wife said handing my granddaddy an old handkerchief wrapped inside his old tobacco pipe. I had come a long way from a boy to a man.
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Very nostalgic. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop and they were somehow in a haunted house or something, haha. A solid first story. You described the home's exterior landscape very well and I could see it in my mind as well as the old oak tree. I could imagine the Granddaddy sitting in his chair and smoking his pipe, then your character getting married under it. Good job. I think what would help with the flow is breaking up the last big paragraph a bit. There a number of things happening there and breaking it up would give each moment a bi...