by Max Elliot Anderson -
The Brightman family decided to make a special trip to visit the grandparents on their farm. Jimmy knew something was different when most of the way there, no one said very much. After they arrived, the children were able to spend time with their grandfather. But even they noticed how he tired easily, needed lots of naps, and wasn’t as much fun as he used to be.
Then one day, their grandfather took them out to sit under his favorite oak tree. To the children, it looked like his tree might reach all the way to the sky. It hurt the back of Jimmy’s neck just looking up at it. Even if he and Sarah held hands and tried to reach around the massive trunk, their arms still wouldn’t be long enough.
Grandpa showed them where their own parents had carved their initials up in the tree. Above those were the grandparents’ initials. Then even higher up, Jimmy saw something. “Hey, who carved that heart?”
His grandpa chuckled. “Those were your great grandparents. The ones before your grandmother and me.”
Sarah kept looking up for a moment. “Wow, they sure must have been good climbers.”
Her grandfather laughed. “No, sweetie, when they carved their initials in that big heart, they were standing on the ground.”
She wrinkled up her nose. “How tall were they?”
“The tree grew up since then,” her brother answered.
“That’s right,” their grandfather said. “Life goes on, and this old tree kept growing right along with it.” They sat quietly for the next few minutes. Then he continued. “We’ve had some wonderful picnics under this old tree. I used to climb its mighty branches when I was only a boy. Sometimes the family sat out here and sang until way past dark. Why, I think about all the creatures it’s taken care of.”
“Like what?” Jimmy asked.
“Squirrels built their nests high up in her branches. They gathered acorns for the winter when they fell in the fall, and all kinds of birds have raised their young in this tree. Your own father climbed it when he was about your age, Jimmy. And it’s given us a nice place in the shade so we could get out of the sun on many a hot day.”
Everyone sat quietly again for a few minutes. Then Sarah asked, “Have you always been a farmer?”
He nodded. “I have, but did you know I was also a builder?”
Jimmy and his sister shook their heads together.
“It’s true.” Their grandfather turned and pointed. “I designed and built our house over there.”
“You did?” Jimmy said.