Last week, I was on high intensity whimsical mode. I suggested to my hubby that I had an idea he would love, even though I was sure he would not. “Let’s decorate what is left of the old apple tree!” I suggested. “I will construct the Japanese lanterns from our daughter’s wedding, and you can hang them from the naked branches.” He said, “Yes!” We are both reluctant to say goodbye to the tree that has produced maiden blush apples to make hundreds of pies, cobblers, sauces and cakes for four generations. Sadly, the tree has lost all of the original branches and has a hollow trunk. It is amazing that it lasted through another winter. Two small remaining sucker branches are producing some bitty apples, so we decided to give her one more summer before we let her topple and become part of the compost over the bank of our back yard. How do you say good-bye to a cherished object, a family tradition, a love? It will be like losing a part of ourselves. Forty years ago, Ada Warren walked next door to meet my family when we moved in. She brought us a pie she made from the tree. Twenty years ago our children helped to prepare the apples for their grandparents, Barb and Jim Cordell, to make sauce. Now my sweet hubby cranks out fifty pints a year with my help, and sometimes on his own. This is a labor of love. His mama was wise to have two more trees planted from grafts. Actually, four were grafted, and the other two are at our Aunt and Uncle’s house – apparently loved by their deer population. Good-bye does not seem like an option, but we can’t hold on to everything we love forever. People, pets, and even plants are gone before we are ready. So, my thought is to celebrate those we love while they are with us. Instead of discounting what is old and bedraggled and of little use; honor it in a creative and special way. And so, our tree that gave its bounty to many people in the family and neighborhood, shall be decorated and adored in its very last year in our front yard by the fence. Those who pass by may snicker or wonder. The apple tree will know that it did its best every year to bring goodness and beauty and comfort to all these who would partake. Perhaps when I am very old, my grandchildren will find a whimsical way to decorate my days and reflect on the memories of love that we will share. For today, the lanterns on the tree represent a favorite verse, “Thy light is a lamp unto my feet”. I will follow the light of love, celebrate the givers, and say, “Good bye, and thank you for sharing your bounty, and blessing us with your presence.” To the next generation of apple trees and the children who will pick from them, “Be of good cheer and excellent health”.