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Coming Home to Our Family Tree

September 21, 2018

Along a winding pathway, surrounded by beautiful gardens, stands a 116-year-old Ginkgo tree that has become like an old friend to five generations in our family.  Planted in 1902, it stands within the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, across the street from the home where my mom grew up on Alfred Avenue.  

Five generations have climbed up in that big, old, beautiful tree, creating a tradition for family photos. Its majestic presence draws us near as we round the bend and beckons us to climb up and enjoy its spreading limbs like a hug from an old friend. 

We moved to the Chicago area in 1970 when I was just four years old, but as far as we're concerned it's still "our garden," "our family tree," and still home. It's where our family story began.  

As mom was growing up, she and her brother Don enjoyed many evenings playing in the garden with family and friends and climbing that old tree.  As they grew up, got married, and started their own families, they brought us there before we could walk. And as we grew up and started our families, we brought our own children there to climb up in that tree and continue the family photo tradition.

After three long, hard years with Alzheimer's, mom passed away in January 2018.  She and Dad would have been married 60 years in July. Their constant love and their devotion to each other have been great blessings in our lives. In June, we brought her ashes home to St. Louis where it all began. On that trip, our family gathered to climb up in that old tree and take a family photo in memory of this amazing woman who climbed up in its beautiful branches as a little girl.   

Welcome home, Mom! 

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