Tag Archives: happy

“Such is life!”

“Such is life!”

Life is fragile.

One day you are enjoying your privacy in your big two story house getting your own tea and bossing around your cleaning lady and the next day you have an accident, spend the night in a hospital and consequently have 100 of your closest relatives worrying and knowing what’s best for you.

“Such is life!” my father would say.

When Adele married Dad at the ripe age of 54 years old, having never been married before or had children, she inherited all of us whether she agreed to it or not.  My siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles, were all very pleased with Dad’s choice of a new wife.  She kept him happy and even and tethered.  Something every one of us Shaheens seems to need I might add.

Someone solid to bounce off of.  Someone kind to put up with us. Someone with an internal compass to keep us on track.  We are an unruly tribe.

She is all those things and independent to boot, coming from solid Irish Canadian stock.  Having been raised by the nuns in the French province of Montreal.  Liking her tea and rolls just so at a certain time of day and reading her paper from cover to cover without interruption.  I’m not sure she was ready for a rambunctious family such as ours.  Or the outpouring of concern when she needed some medical attention and “help” (God forbid!).

After spending four days with her I am in awe of her 92 years of wisdom, strength and fortitude.  Driving home from our visit, I had 6 plus hours to contemplate what it might be like to be in her shoes and wonder why everyone is making such a fuss about her living alone and carrying on her daily life.

“Why is everyone asking me how I am? Eh?”

When I’m 92 I want to be just like her.

To see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower.. ~ William Blake

To see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower.. ~ William Blake

I don’t know how I managed to kill the beautiful magnolia that had graced my front yard for the past twenty years. But the optimist in me saw it as an opportunity to choose a tree of my own.

My search began on the internet. I then quizzed my tree-hugging son, Patrick, about branching patterns and flower colors and the ability to live in a watered lawn environment.  After much deliberation I settled on another magnolia- the deciduous kind that flowers early in spring and leafs out after a spectacular show of color.

You have probably seen this tree in beautiful shades of pink and violet.  But I was curiously drawn to the description of the magnolia with a delicate butter yellow flower.  Now that it is in bloom, I am remembering why.

We lived in Whittier, California many moons ago and I used to drive my son, Peter, across town to El Rancho Presbyterian Pre-school.  Every Tuesday and Thursday morning we traveled down Greenleaf Ave. and took a left on Hadley, passing 100-year-old homes- some of them built at the turn of the century from Sears and Roebucks “kits”.

On one corner there was a dignified old two-story home with a majestic multi-branching tree that reached beyond the rooftop.  The house was painted the loveliest shade of butter yellow.  I would wonder at how they decided on that particular color.  It wasn’t anything like the homes around it.  It was so whimsical to me in the shadow of the stately front yard tree.

Then spring arrived and when we turned the corner from Greenleaf onto Hadley the secret was revealed.  The beautiful tree was in full bloom showing off hundreds of buttery yellow flowers- the exact color of the house.


It took my breath away.

In my imagination I decided that the first time the owners of that old stately home saw the tree in full bloom, they rushed to the nearby paint store with one of the delicate cups in order to match paint for the house.

In order to dazzle themselves and passer-byers with a work of art worthy of the finest museum.  If only for a yearly one- month exhibition.

I will never know if my fantasy is true.  I don’t even know if that tree is still standing. Perhaps some type A homeowner decided it was too “messy” and cut it down.  Maybe the house is now a modern shade of slate green.

Be that as it may, I have planted my own museum piece in my front yard.  It serves my fond memories of Whittier and El Rancho Presbyterian and my curly topped Peter. It makes me happy to see it bloom and thrive.

Who would imagine that a simple tree would bring such joy?