Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why the Willow Tree


My Grandparents Willow Tree, ca 1950's


Why do you weep dear willow

Why do your branches hang low

Could it be you know a secret

That other trees don’t know


It seems that the willow tree has always held some sort of symbolism in my family. It has represented love and strength, loss and sorrow. I don't know exactly were its origins began, but I believe that it started with my grandparents, Eugene and Leona Smith.

A couple of years after my grandparents were married; sometime around 1939 or 40, they moved from her parents home to their own home just down the street from them in Dover. This little house sat down by the Cumberland river. Together with love, they planted a switch from a willow tree in their new yard. This little switch that they planted some sixty nine years ago is still there today. It has grown to become quite some tree. I can only imagine all the things this tree may have witnessed these many decades and all the secrets it must hold amongst it's branches.


When the TVA came in and my grandmother had to move, she moved to Clarksville. From the TVA's effort at flood control, the river became wider and what was once my grandparents yard has now become part of the banks of the Cumberland river. The house was torn down and the land was cleared of trees, and many years later, a park was put in their place. The city built a boat launching pad and dock and just to the east of that pad, there still stands the tree that was planted so long ago. A treasure left by a family so tied to the land of Stewart County.


When my mother died three years ago, my aunt Jerelene planted a willow tree in her back yard in Cordell, Oklahoma in her memory. What an family honor that symbol bares and as the ancient words of the song goes, one my mother has sung thousands of times..........


Why do you weep dear willow


Why do your branches hang low


Could it be you know a secret


That other trees don’t know

My Mom and aunt Jerelene with the tree in 1997

Although the streets had no names when my grandparents lived there, the tree can be found there in Dover. You go south on what is now Spring street and then east on Water street to the little park there. If you walk down to the dock and look on the bank to the east, you will see it there with its roots planted deep in the Cumberland mud.

1 comment:

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