It was the last time I would be with my mom at her home in Glen Ellyn. She was under the Horse Chestnut tree that had been so carefully planted in the parkway longer ago than I can remember. This is my last memory of her at home, standing under her beloved tree. The picture of her, defending her right to be at her home, under her tree, holds an incredible story.
The Horse Chestnut tree had been transplanted from my mom's childhood home in Riverside, Illinois. The story she told, of how the tree-lined streets of Riverside had been the design of the famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, remains my favorite. She attributes the Horse Chestnut trees in her childhood neighborhood to his deliberate and mindful designs that create the beauty of the Riverside streets. Therefore, she insisted upon the transplanting of the Horse Chestnut tree to her Glen Ellyn home.
My mom had fallen deep into the final stages of dementia on that final day at home, and yet she knew exactly where she was, under her tree. Its presence rooted her in reality. A reality that she had created and loved and carried with her from childhood.
I attribute that Horse Chestnut tree to my mom's longer than expected stay at her home as her dementia progressed. Because she could sit for hours under her tree, conversing with neighbors, listening to the birds chirp and watching the children play, her ability to remain at home continued into the final stages of her illness.
My mom passed away last summer. A few weeks before her death, we visited the Morton Arboretum. A picture of her was taken on that final Arboretum visit and was sent to friends and family with the announcement of her memorial. The picture of her was framed by the beautiful trees and flowers at the Morton Arboretum.
Thank you to the Morton Arboretum for all it does for the promotion and conservation of TREES. Trees create and hold all of our individual realities.