I flew to Ohio last weekend to plant a tree.
Not just any tree, but a Kentucky Coffee Tree in memory of my sister Anna.
You see, we were all born in Kentucky, and my sister was to coffee what alcoholics are to vodka. Up until she started her chemo, she could drink a few pots a day with no problem at all. Shared vacations meant making sure there would be coffee in the hotel room, or she’d pack her own coffee pot.
While in a crowded sweaty bar in Cancun years back, she asked the puzzled waiter for a cup of coffee while we ordered shots of Mezcal. You get the picture.
So when she died and we decided to pay a more lasting tribute, my clever sister Mary came across the perfect tree.
It was delivered to Anna’s house one chilly March morning. Rain and sporadic light snow had been the weather menu’s daily special for a while, and so the ground was mucky. After finding the right spot (these trees grow fast and quite large) we set to taking turns digging the hole.
The soggy soil was clay-like, and clung to our boots like cement overshoes. We soon had Anna’s tree, which now resembles more of a tall stick, into the ground and grew silent.
I looked up into the heavens and said a few words.
“Anna, I know you’re up there laughing at us and our muddy boots, but this tree is for you, and will be here paying you tribute long after we are all gone. We love you.”