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The Tree of Life

by Tracy Barry

Bio | Email | Follow: @tracybarrynews

Posted on February 12, 2007 at 4:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:33 PM

The jungle. That's what our girls called Grandma's garden. A half acre or so of twisting paths, secret hiding spots, raspberries to eat warm off the vine. In many ways it reflected my parents lives. A piece of paradise created from years of hard work. Starting as a pile of sand, nourished with wheelbarrow loads of good soil pushed uphill and dug in by hand for 40 years.

It was planted with memories. A Rhody from the year my sister was born, Calla Lilies from a friend's garden. Wild orchids and Violets "saved" from torn-up roadside ditches. And that Redwood in the front yard packed home as a sapling from a road trip to California, now the delight of every squirrel in the neighborhood. A garden that always had room for one more plant. A kitchen table that always had room for one more friend.

My sweet Dad has been gone for 4 years now. We lost Mom a year ago. I miss them both every day. As the anniversary of Mom's death neared I longed for a way to keep our daughters connected to Grandma and her jungle. To recognize her love of nature. To pay tribute to her resilient spirit.

I found all that and more through Friends of Trees. You probably know the Portland based nonprofit as the group that brings volunteers together to plant trees in our neighborhoods. Hundreds and hundreds of trees.


Once a year they also do something truly special. A commemorative planting to honor someone living or dead. When we gathered early Sunday morning at Wilsonville Memorial Park people were there for many reasons. To celebrate a birth, an anniversary and to remember a friend or family member who had passed. We joined about a hundred others armed with spades and raingear to replant an area with native trees.


Lovely poems were read. Kind words were exchanged. Memories were shared. Then we went to work. We chose a spot by a stump to plant our trees.


Mom would have loved the location. Dad would have loved the doughnuts offered to all!

As a family it gave us a chance to channel our grief. To talk of the things we loved and missed. To offer a living memorial while helping the environment. We promised to come back and record the yearly progress of our trees. And just as we headed back to the car admiring everyone else's work on the way, the sun broke through the clouds.


"In the tree of life our roots are forever intertwined."

As always, thank you for watching.

Tracy Barry

For more information on Friends of Trees check out the website at