For as long as I can remember my parents have grown apple and pear trees. I grew up in Ohio, and the blooming pear trees each year showed that spring had sprung. When I was younger, I was trepid around the bees the blooms attracted. In the summer, the trees provided great shade for a young girl to sit under and read. By the fall, the fruit was ready to be picked and eaten. It was worth the time spent helping my father gather the pears and apples, as I knew it meant my mother would use some to make apple crisp.
When I went to college, my parents became empty nesters. With my two sisters and I no longer living with them, my mother and father decided to move into a smaller house. Upon moving to their new home, they planted two apple and two pear trees.
As an adult my appreciation of the trees changed a bit. I still love the budding trees each spring, with the hope that warmer temperatures and more sunshine are coming. Now I understand why we don’t want any late season frosts to come after blossoms have formed. Today I also love seeing the bees. I understand how much our food sources rely on bees, and the sweet fruit only comes after bees and insects help cross pollinate the trees. I still love the shade the fruit trees provide in the summer, but now I have an even greater appreciation for their beauty. After having moved south and spending years living in a dessert region, I now love getting to see the vivid green the trees display during my summer visits home. In the autumn I enjoy seeing the leaves change color before falling. In the winter, I appreciate how the trees help buffer some of the winds that blow around my parents’ home.
Several winters ago, a terrible windstorm tragically uprooted one of my parents’ apple trees, and it could not be saved. It was a sad day as we realized that with only one apple tree, it would likely no longer be cross pollinated to bear fruit. Fortunately, the pear trees still produce, and each autumn still brings the sweet taste of pears and my mother’s pear crisp dessert.
As an adult, I now realize and better understand what all goes into growing and gardening well. It was through years of helping my parents in their gardens that I developed my own appreciation for growing. Their example helped instill in me a love for plants. Over time I learned about appropriately watering plants, balanced with providing enough sunlight. I have learned about the importance of allowing for root development, including not planting trees too close to houses or other structures. As soon as I moved into my own home, I started growing houseplants and potted plants until I could start a garden. I learned about planting and growing seasons. In Ohio, we never planted annual flowers outdoors until after Mother’s Day. In northern Mexico, we plant by March.
As a girl I wasn’t concerned with all of that yet though. I once questioned why my father grew fruit trees. He did not give me a simple answer that I might have expected such as, “Because we like to eat the fruit,” or “I enjoy growing plants and working in the garden.” He surprised me when he answered, “Because my father always grew apple trees.”
Years later it was a special treat for me getting to journey with my father back to visit his childhood home in Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Michigan. His family had long moved away from that particular house, but we were able to drive past the front of the home. Then we were able to park and walk on the beach that ran behind the house, and we could see the home’s backyard. As we walked, my dad pointed out that the large trees growing along the back property line were the apple trees that he had planted as a boy with his own father. He reminisced about picking and eating apples with my aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
Somehow after having seen the apple trees from my father’s childhood and having heard the joy that my father’s reminiscence brought him, eating the apples at my parents’ home tasted even sweeter.
In more recent years, I have also come to realize that much of my love for genealogy and history stems from my parents. They have always made family a priority. Each summer we took trips to visit my father’s family in Wisconsin or my mother’s family in Washington state. We often shared family stories, and my parents were willing to answer my sisters and I asking, “What was it like when you were little?...” We would visit family gravesites and reminisce about loved ones who had passed. My mother displayed shelves of framed family photos, and we enjoyed looking through old photo albums. My parents have shared copies of family trees and genealogy that our family has researched. My parents always demonstrated how important family was, and I have never doubted just how much my sisters and I are loved.
One year I was touched as I started my own shelf of framed family photos. For Christmas, my parents gifted my sisters and I with our own copies of family photos. Now we each have prints of wedding photos of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. We still reminisce and help keep their memories alive, recognizing how they helped shape and grow each of us. We can proudly display those photos along with our own wedding photos and photos of younger generations, while continuing our family legacy of love.
What seeds has your family sown? Who helped cultivate your younger years? What has been deeply instilled within you? What have you planted and modeled for your loved ones? What have you grown together? What do you want your children and future generations to know? What fruits have you enjoyed that others planted, and which seeds do you hope will grow to bless others in the future?
LifeBio is here to help you share and preserve your family’s life stories. We would be honored to help you find the best option for you and your loved ones to get started sharing stories today. What seeds would you like to start sowing now?