Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Let The Petals Fall Where They May

Have you ever felt a memory before it actually registered in your mind?

I saw this tree ...



... and before I was aware of what was happening I could smell after shave, I could hear a strong voice with a melodic Italian accent and I felt the warmth of kind eyes and a quick smile.

I had a neighbor in Brooklyn who had a tree just like this at the front of his property. It was a huge old tree. It stretched far up and wide out. Our street was crowded and busy and the tree hung over the sidewalk and the neighboring driveway. When it began to lose its petals they landed everywhere.

One evening I stopped to talk to my lovely neighbor and when I got upstairs to my apartment there were petals in my purse. I can still feel how that made me smile.

My neighbor's wife and many others hated the tree. They complained about needing to clean up the petals; how the petals covered their cars, got onto the soles of their shoes, followed them everywhere.

My neighbor called the petals "fleeting gifts of beauty". He taught me how to say that in Italian and although I don't remember how I can hear him.

I can see the little girl down the street stopping to kick them up. I can see her picking them up and sprinkling them over her head. I can see my neighbor laughing; I can feel the power and joy of his laughter.

So I'm sitting in my car looking at this tree and feeling all this and for a moment my only memory of his wife is her stern face and endless nagging.

And then I remember the day of his funeral.

Late that day; after the endless mass and the painful scene at the cemetery I am back home. I feel such a sense of loss. I adored this man. I glance across the street and a bit to the left and see his house. It is winter so the tree is bare and that seems fitting. I see his wife on the porch and I walk over. We just stand there together. My eyes are full of tears and my heart hurts. Her English is "not so good" so she speaks slowly and quietly.

"In Italy my Joey always loved the trees, the vines, the plants." Her face is soft and she looks so young to me although she is close to 80. "My father, my brothers were all very rough, very loud. Joey is the gentlest man I ever knew. I love that about him."

I hugged her and told her to go inside, it was very cold. I promised to come have coffee in the morning.

As I walked away she said "Dee-Anna, I will take good care of the tree. Always. For Joey."

This was nearly 10 years ago. Joey's son and his family have taken over the house. Rosa lives with them. She will be 90 soon and she is going strong.

And so is the tree.

52 comments:

Shrinky said...

You recounted this so beautifully, I felt I was there, watching the scenes as they played out before me. What a precious memory, and a magnificent tree!

Jay said...

It's amazing what can suddenly bring back all kinds of old memories. Both happy and sad.

Ron said...

OMG, I got so filled with emotion and tears while reading this, Dianne.

I could actually FEEL this man through your words.

Beautifully expressed, dear lady.

Just beautiful!

Isn't it something how trees, so often, hold the memories?

"Have you ever felt a memory before it actually registered in your mind?"

Yes, I have.

Thank you for sharing such a special memory.

{{{{ Dianne }}}}

X

Singing Bear said...

So beautiful and moving. Thank you.

Jay Simser said...

I was going to write "Beautiful" as a comment and tell you that I choked up while reading this. You always do that and everyone else told you that so I will just say Thanks once again for making me feel your humanity and love. I will never look at the tree in front of my house in the same way again.

The petals didn't stay on too long this time but I got a photo of it. I'll hold that for the cold times.

Sylvia K said...

What a beautiful, moving story, Dianne! What a great inspiration he was, wish there were more like him! Thank you so much for sharing the beauty and the petals! I love them! Have a good day!

Sylvia

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

memories are made of these...

Martha Z said...

A wonderful memory, beautiful story.

Daryl said...

So lovely it made me cry ...

Raven said...

Lovely.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Excuse me...I need to go get a tissue.
<><

Linda said...

What a wonderful memory. Thanks for sharing. Really touching.

bobbie said...

What a lovely memory.

Linda said...

Isn't it amazing how just one glance or one smell can bring so many memories back with it?

What a lovely story of a lovely man and I sincerely hope that when his wife joins him in heaven that the family continues to take care of his tree.

Mrs. C said...

Why clean up those petals? They're beautiful. People get far too picky about their lawns. I let my children take joy in blowing dandelions; nevermind what the neighbours think. That's their problem.

Linda Reeder said...

I love this story and your telling of it. I don't know that I ever had a man like that in my life, but somehow I did learn to appreciate the beauty of petals.

Travis said...

Babel fish says...

Regali momentanei di bellezza.

It's a beautiful sentiment in any language.

Hilary said...

"Fleeting gifts of beauty" - how perfect. I'm so glad you knew this man so that you could share him with us. What a tender tale.

Mrs. D said...

That was so sweet. It makes me feel good to know she does appreciate his tree after all.

Scott Oglesby said...

I loved this post Dianne. So sad and so sweet. You’d love the almond blossoms here, they are a stunning mixture of white and purple and you already know the love story behind them lol. When they blow off it looks just like a snowstorm.

For me smells bring out the deepest, most intense memories.

Arkansas Patti said...

You were blessed to have him in your life, but he was blessed to have you in his. You listened and you saw. He still lives thru you.

Micky-T said...

My goodness, you've touched a soft spot in my heart with this story. I'm turning into quite the sap in my old age. But that's OK!

kenju said...

A wonderful story - and well-said!!

Leah J. Utas said...

Beautiful, the post and the memory. What a wonderful tribute to life.

Akelamalu said...

I could almost 'feel' your memory myself Dianne, you painted it so beautifully.

Smells have always more readily evoked memories than sights for me.

Tricia @ Bluff Area Daily said...

Very cool - So pretty!

Kitty said...

Trees are cool. Old Italian men in Brooklyn who love trees are really cool. Dianne who write about them is super crazy cool.

Matt-Man said...

Simply beautiful Di. Nicely done. Cheers Sexy!!

CrystalChick said...

I really enjoyed reading this. What a beautiful memory. You have a very good way with words.

And you're pretty good with a camera too! I am very behind in blog reading but I adore the photos!

Have a nice day.

pink dogwood said...

What a beautiful story - I want to come and hug you and the tree :)

Unseen Rajasthan said...

What a beautiful post !!Simply fantastic and well framed story !!Great post @@

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Beautiful story my dear...Written beautifully, too....You have such a wonderful way of telling and sharing what you feel---You paint a BEAUTIFUL Picture, Dianne....
And that tree----WOW!!! I'm glad she took such good care of that tree. A great tribute to her sweet husband.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Lovingly rendered memoir, Dianne.

I had a quirky neighbor who liked to grow vegetables but he was not very romantic at all. When his wife was away he would sneak over to my house and beg me for beer. :-D

Ivanhoe said...

Now my eyes got all wet. What a powerful story. I love these pink blooming trees. Those and lindens are my fave. And they smell sooo goooood.
Hugs,
I.

Rob Inukshuk said...

Oy, tug at the heart strings why don't you!!! What a wonderful little story. You can sure write.

Jacob said...

You are a true story teller! This is just beautiful!

CherylK said...

Oh my goodness, that was a wonderful story. I love that you held out your hand to his wife at the end.

Lisa (Mountain Photog) said...

That story brought tears to my eyes, Dianne. So beautiful. "Fleeting gifts of beauty." I love that.

fermicat said...

Dianne, you are quite the storyteller. Beautiful.

LadyFi said...

What a beautifully tender story!

saz said...

lovely, heartfelt post of the week...well done!

saz x

Zuzana said...

Beautiful; the way our memory is tied to objects, scents and sounds in our present never seizes to amaze me.
Beautifully written an poignantly conveyed.
Well deserved of the POTW win, congratulations.;)
xoxo

slommler said...

What a beautiful memory!!
Congrats on your POTW!
Hugs
SueAnn

Cricket said...

A beautiful story and a deserving potw. Well done.

I love it when the trees bloom myself. I'll take flower petals over acorns and those little whirly-things anytime.

järnebrand said...

Beautiful. What a wonderful memory... Thank you for sharing this powerful story...
...and congrats on the POTW! :)
Hugs/ Jo.

Brian Miller said...

such a heartfelt memory so beautifully shared. thank you.

congrats on the POTW!

ellen abbott said...

How did I not read this already? What a wonderful story Dianne. Congrats on POTW. It is well deserved. And now I want to know what kind of a tree that is that blooms like that and gets as big as a live oak.

R. said...

Beautifully written!

blunoz said...

Beautifully written post. Thank you for sharing these memories with us, and congrats on Post of the Week!

Moannie said...

Such a wonderful story of love, told so beautifully, very deserving of your winning Post Of The Week over at Hilary's Smitten Image.

Land of shimp said...

That was beautifully written and genuinely moving. Thank you so much for sharing the story. Congratulations on the post of the week mention over at Hilary's blog.

One of the areas where I grew up had a lot of Italian Americans, and Polish-Americans both with that same sort of familial structure where nagging, hectoring, seemingly endless bickering was a form of family communication. It was always so disconcerting, and visiting my friends homes it always seemed so boisterous and overblown.

I later found out that one of my friends from a large Italian family always felt so creepy out when she visited the homes of others because they were so unnaturally quiet.

Hehe, isn't it funny that the way families communicate is not just limited to what language is spoken?

It also sounds like your neighbor spoke the language of the trees, too.

Daryl said...

Back to say congrats on POTW!!!!! Well deserved, doll .. xox