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The Concrete Tree

On the 10th anniversery of the death of the my father (Frank the Beachcomber), I wrote this little piece on family and heritage. Thought some of you might enjoy it. It is written 200 years in the future.

Hurrying home from school on his solar powered skate board, Zander was very excited and a little bewildered. His homework school assignment was to dig down below the surface of the ground and see what he could find. This puzzled him as the concept of digging down never occurred to neither him nor any of his family members. After all, his entire city, and indeed the entire country were covered in concrete. No one ever talked about what was below the concrete. Everyone assumed it was just more concrete. Why everything in the country was built up and not down. Every building in his city was built on concrete that went up and up and up. That is why Zander and his family lived on the 1600th floor of the “high rise.” Seeking an answer, Zander pointed his laser at the stars and instantly he was connected with his sister who had settled on the moon about 55 years ago. His sister scoffed at him and his teacher, and the idea that anything could be found below his feet. Zander felt the same way, but concerned about his assignment, he decided to give it a try.

With his carbon titanium drill, he pointed at the concrete and began to watch in wonder as concrete split and cracked in all directions. After several minutes of layer upon layer of concrete, the young lad was about to give up when he began to see small brown patches of something that was definitely not concrete. Calling to his family above, they all gathered around and stood in amazement at the scene. Many of the younger members of the family could only look on in bewilderment at the site of soft brown concrete. However, his grandfather, wise and knowledgeable at the age of 126 said he seemed to recall long before the concrete, there was a time when dirt covered the planet. He was quite sure that this is what was spewing up from their feet.

Zander reached into the “so-called dirt” and pulling hard retrieved an old, rusty metal box with a lock on it. His mind began to wonder at what was inside the box. It took but mere seconds to break the lock and retrieve what was inside. To his disappointment, it was nothing more than a drawing of what looked like a man with many arms, and writings about someone or something. The above mentioned picture seemed to show a very skinny man with many, many arms. What was the meaning of this picture? No one knew; no one that is except great grandmother. She vividly recalled a time from her long ago past when the world had not been a concrete jungle, and grass and flowers and trees flourished. But that was so long ago and those memories were crushed in her mind with the weight of a world of concrete and dullness all around her.

Grandma Zeta told the family that this was not the drawing of a man with many arms, but was rather a “family tree.” It was a depiction of the lineage of the family going back hundreds and hundreds of years. Grandma Zeta said that this was a “priceless” find. Didn’t seem that way to the rest of the family they stated.

Just then Xenia and Flander, two classmates of Zander ran up to the gathering. They too had busted up concrete near their homes and Xenia found many, many old silver and copper coins. They were very shiny everyone exclaimed, but since the country provided for all the needs of the people from birth to death, coins were of no value to anyone. Sorry Xenia they exclaimed. Flander then showed them what he had found on his excursion. He had found a small piece of metal with the words “Ford Mustang” on it. Inquiring of Grandma Zeta again, she recalled a time from her childhood when there were animals that roamed the planet. But as the planet grew and grew there was no place for both man and animals to co-exist, and soon the animals disappeared. Perhaps “Ford Mustang” was an animal back then—-then again maybe not. Not impressed with any of the findings, the family was set to go their separate ways when Grandma Zeta motioned them to listen and look for just a few more minutes. She began to explain what the “family tree” meant and how the knowledge of the past was more valuable and priceless to them than anything else on earth. Her mind began to come alive and she regaled them with stories of their past, stories of great-great-great-great grandpa “Cornelius Zuiker” who came to the United States from Holland as a boy of 14, eager to make a better life in America. Of his six children who became successful lawyers, businessmen, social workers, and homemakers, and who brought into this world children who served their country in the military and as volunteers across the planet. She told of family members by marriage, and of their children and their parents, who gave so much to others and asked for so little in return. With this knowledge, held deep in their hearts and minds, the family could put all their worries, be it financial, physical, or emotional to rest. Grandma concluded by reminding the family that no matter where they were at this time, whether on planet earth, the moon, or anywhere else, that this “family tree” was planted in something so much stronger that concrete.

This “family tree” was planted in a foundation of hard work, dedication, loyalty, and commitment, and that this “family tree,” of which Zander was a loyal and royal member, could never be uprooted or toppled, and could stand strong and proud against the storms of life.