baby tangerine tree

The memory of my husband who planted this tree from a tiny seed comes every time I see it. (phot courtesy, Creative Commons)


August 5, 2016 – Memory is a tricky thing. “They” tell us that the past is gone, the future isn’t here, and today is where it is: reality – live in the moment. That’s why it’s called the “present.” I couldn’t agree more, but there is something about remembering the past that brings comfort when comfort is needed and welcomed. The anonymous one also says that the past may be pleasant, but you wouldn’t want to live there. I also agree with that but the gift of memory, a now-and-then visit soothes a saddened and lonely heart with a balm of happiness if just for a moment. Furthermore, memories are sometimes triggered by something so simple as a piece of fruit.

Recently, daughter Julie and her husband Tim invited me to a bar-b-cue held at their neighbor’s home. As we polished off the last corn on the cob,  I noticed Julie holding an orange tangerine that Tim had picked from the neighbor’s abundantly producing tree. Thoughts of our own tangerine tree popped into my mind, a memory of another time when Alzheimer’s had not been an unwelcome guest in our home, when Ken was younger and robust.


During our tight-budget days and even beyond I packed my husband’s lunch placing the sandwich, two cookies and a piece of fruit into the always-handy brown bag. Ken was never a solitary man who would choose to sit at his desk eating alone each day. Instead, he would take his lunch and wander through the office until he found a co-worker also brown-bagging it at work. One day he wandered into the reception room where the receptionist welcomed him to pull up a chair and enjoy their lunches and a break in the day together.

Once he ate the sandwich and cookies he pulled out a ripe, orange tangerine and proceeded to remove the peel, then slice by slice he ate the succulent fruit. The “fly” in the ointment was, of course, a few seeds. Removing one he leaned forward and stuck the seed into the potted plant on the woman’s desk. Several weeks later she called Ken asking that he drop by her office and see what had transpired since their brown-bag lunch together.

There, in all of its tiny glory, was a sprouting tangerine tree. Carefully, he removed the new plant, transferring it into another pot and brought the fledgling tree into his own sunny office. When Ken retired he brought the growing plant home where it continued to progress on the patio


That was a question I asked our guest speaker one evening at a meeting of our church woman’s group. His family owned a seed company so the man’s expertise was vast. “Usually,” he explained, “fruit trees have a better chance of producing when they are grafted onto another stronger root system. Chances of a tree grown from a seed bearing fruit are slim at best.”

Nevertheless, Ken and I planted his tree in a corner on our rental property, hoping the expert was wrong in his appraisal. After a few years, I noticed the tree was becoming very hostile as it grew its defense mechanism – long mean thorns – at least an inch in length. Months later I looked up and saw tiny green balls growing among the leaves and thorns. Patiently we waited, and they eventually grew large and ripened, their sweetness and juice everything for which a grower could hope. Our tree does not produce abundantly each year, but nearly every other year. We just have to be brave being careful to dodge the long thorns when it’s harvest time. I suppose that’s what having faith is all about: “The substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” The memory of that tiny tree that had grown into a vigorous bush then a tall tree which brought forth fruit is a cherished part of my life with my husband. 

Originally posted 2016-08-05 22:21:45.

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