The reading of the will took place,
One day in late October,
The lawyer said we all should come
To look the papers over.
I was late arriving,
The others already there,
Cousins, nieces, nephews,
Relatives from everywhere.
Some, I did not know at all,
But most I recognized,
All, it seemed, had itchy palms,
And greedy, beady eyes.
The lawyer cleared his throat,
To read our dear-departed's words,
"Being of sound mind..." he read,
Stifled snickers then were heard.
He read each stilted legal phrase,
His rhetoric droned on and on,
Some folks sighed with boredom.
While others covered yawns.
Finally he got to the meat,
Now each person sat erect,
All ears turned toward the lawyer,
To hear what he'd read next.
The wife had passed already,
And the closest kin were gone,
Thus a motley group of folks
Comprised this fawning throng.
One by one, each name was called,
And generous gifts bestowed,
From houses, yachts, and autos,
To stocks and bonds and things of gold.
Some people smiled, some even cheered,.
Others clearly felt let-down,
I was ashamed for all of them,
As with downcast eyes, I looked around.
I didn't know my uncle well,
But we shared a mutual respect,
He helped my mom, when I was young,
And those kind acts I'd not forget
At long last, I heard my name,
Although I almost didn't care,
The lawyer looked at me and said,
"Sir, you are the final heir."
My legacy was a grove of trees,
Upon a tiny plot of land,
My cousins teased and jeered at me,
"Ha Ha! Look! A lumberman!"
Well, it did seem a bit peculiar,
My uncle was odd, I must admit,
A wooded grove - good gosh, I thought,
Whatever will I do with it?
The lawyer told me later,
How my uncle loved his trees,
That he went there almost daily,
When I asked why, he said, "You'll see."
I drove out to the spot,
And yes, indeed, a grove of trees
Covered the entire lot.
It was a lovely, sunny day,
There was a gentle, stirring breeze,
Small birds above sang happily,
As they flew amongst the trees.
As I strolled around this wooded place,
A sense of peace came over me,
As if I'd stumbled into Eden,
That I should get down upon my knee.
There was more here than met the eye,
It seemed like holy ground,
I examined each tree carefully,
And was amazed at what I found.
Each tree was of a different size,
And a different age and kind,
It was quite obvious to me,
Each planted at a separate time.
Each tree I knew was special,
For each bore a metal plate,
On which there was engraved
A person's name and date.
The tag on this tree read, "Helene,"
The tag on that read, "Bill,"
And over here were "John" and "Anne,"
And then another one read, "Phil."
My uncle was not mad, I'm sure,
But why put names on trees?
Then suddenly the light came on,
And I felt relieved and pleased.
Helene, of course, his sister,
And Bill, a brother, who'd passed on,
Each name was of a loved one,
And the date, when each had gone.
A tree was planted in the name
Of each precious soul who died,
I'm sure my uncle did this
To keep each memory alive.
I'm sure he sat amongst his trees,
And got a sense of presence there,
That's all it took - a word, a look,
To feel each spirit in the air.
Yes, I understood this place,
I was humbled and in awe,
The legacy I was bequeathed,
Was the most valuable of all.
That afternoon, on my way home ,
I stopped by a nursery,
I wanted something full and tall,
A very special tree.
I'd plant it in the center,
Where it would tower up above,
And spread its branches over
The other trees with love.
My uncle's tree must be supreme,
Upon that wooded lot,
And I vowed I'd go there often,
To sit by it and talk.
Virginia (Ginny) Ellis
Copyright November 2003