There, somewhere along the shore and river of life, he appeared, just showed up. I was not to be seen, nor heard or thought of, not even in a dream. It was not my time.
He was solid and sure. He was cared for, fed and given bed, opportunities. His genetics gave way to clarity and determination. He moved forward, contributed to his family and found an education. He flew planes. He protected our country. He found joy and hope and laughed and loved. He had fun.
Life flowed and he moved with, along the rivers that were his choice, his own. Man, woman, child and all the fixings, home and family, jobs and dogs, brothers and sisters, a nephew … a small clone from the clan … I was here and around. I saw him. He saw me.
I came to know him on occasions, regularly and yet at a peripheral distance, my own doing I believe, not understanding fully the dynamics of family and leaves. Perhaps living in mind to observe and be and help as role models see, in silent ways. I followed their leads.
Many years have past. Lives and loves, work and play, travels and home, trees and more leaves. I found myself walking below them and think of those leaves. I think of him.
I know him now, better than before, and still he guards the periphery of my world, from a place, high in the sun of days, where clouds are made, a river below waiting for wade.
We message now and again. He is out there. I know him. There are times when the tree begins to feel cold. The many leaves that gave life, turn color and retreat. The tree is waiting for spring.
My walk slows and I look up at those wonderful trees, and leaves so many to see. I feel the cool fall breeze. Those factories of life, turn color, then brown, holding on till a small door closes them down. The breeze blows and the smallest of grip, lets go.
The leaf floats up in flight, this way and that way, free to move and travel as never before. Slowly and gracefully, it falls, exploring those places only seen, now before it, now gleam.
In the last of draft, its tip pulls up, the stem touches down, finally landing on the ground. I pick it up. It is the largest leaf I have ever seen. I am reminded of a recent story he told me, where he too found a big leaf, that he picked up.
I bent down, while walking in stride and picked mine up too. It had nearly hit me on its fall and I laughed at this, found joy and hope and love for the leaf, in the all of it, winter setting in.
I thought of him, his life and if his leaf was bigger than mine. And of course I had to ask and sent him a picture for his compare. He was there and from his home, sent me this picture.
His reply, witty and playful, his words crisp and alive, and of course he measured his find and explained, “foot leaf maple”.
And not to be outdone, I found way to to measure mine. No ruler nearby, I found a dog that would do, and replied with this picture for scale.
And we laughed and exchanged thoughts small and grand about the Big Leaf Maple. We knew that one day when, it would fly again, and perhaps we would be there together to see, the Big Leaf Maple and a hundred of its leaves all attached to the tree, finding joy and hope and we would laugh and love the lives we had.
The sun would shine, the river would flow, together we would dream, and maybe next time, he would let me borrow his ruler, and perhaps, just perhaps, I would let the dog sleep.
And as I finish this little story, I feel it is important to note that his leaf is a big leaf maple and mine, well, a big leaf oak. As winter slips in, I’m looking forward to spring, where we (my Uncle and I) will find reasons to be, walk under some trees, and find jest and joy, in the simple of days, and the mystery of life, that is ours … to keep.