It should have been a moment of glory back in the early 1970s. I had run a button hook route and the pass was perfect. I caught the football and turned around, just steps from the end zone.
It felt to this nine-year-old that I had hit a brick wall. In reality, I had run straight into a small tree, newly-planted right in the middle of our neighborhood “football” field.
Blood and stars and tears all started at once. Instead of doing a touchdown dance, I ran through the end zone, across the street, and into the house, yelling as loud as I could.
After my concerned mother calmed me a bit, I dropped my hands and looked in the mirror to see that my two front teeth were hanging by a thread.
That dang tree had knocked out my two front teeth! It resulted in a memorable school picture (see below), and two full months trying to convince Santa and my parents that I wanted much more for Christmas than just my two front teeth.
I eventually recovered and moved on with my life. But I hung on to my dislike of the tree.
Fast forward 25 years and I end up moving my young family into the house across the street. Suddenly, I was the owner of that tree.
It began as a little sapling that wasn’t much taller than tooth level. But over the years, it grew and grew and grew into a beautiful tree. I checked the tree about four feet up to see if there was any scarring. It had also recovered and moved on with life.
We grew to love that tree. It provided a perfect setting for a neighborhood tree house. A long branch was just right for a swing, and an adjacent utility pole made the perfect anchor for a hammock. The kids could climb the tree or sit in the shade or play in the grass.
The tree struggled through the drought of 2002. One hot morning, we awoke to see that an enormous branch had broken off in the middle of the night.
The biggest problem with the tree is the fact that it was too close to utility lines. We would have the tree trimmed and looking fine and tree crews would come and butcher it.
When my once-hated tree started to lose limbs, I really started to feel for the tree. Kindred spirits.
Finally, we realized we needed to make a change. Last week, the crews from TLC cut down the tree and hauled it off.
I had been there through the full life of the tree. We started off our relationship with a bad taste in my mouth, but instead of 38-year-old revenge, it was with a sense of sadness that we watched it go.