A Tree for Norah

After our summer of travel, we are home and transitioning back to school and work life. Yesterday was the 5 month anniversary of Norah’s death. A second ago, a lifetime ago. Time goes in fits and starts.

During Norah’s 3 week illness, we would sit by her side and tell her about the world outside. Early April in Charlottesville is a beautiful time, with cherry trees and redbuds just starting to bloom. We would mark the days by telling her which trees had started leafing out. The courtyard where Peggy and I ate lunch on warm days was ringed by ginkgo trees, and we became fascinated by these singular trees. One of the oldest trees, with fossils dating back 270 million years, Ginkgo Biloba is the only species in it’s division, meaning every other member of its genus, family, order, class, and division are all extinct. But due to its beauty and usefulness, humans have cultivated it and planted it all over the world. It does well in urban areas, being remarkably resilient against pollution and pests. There is one in front of the Rotunda at UVA that was planted 150 years ago. It was a good destination to walk to and sit under when we needed a break from the hospital.

While we sat with Norah, we tried to think of ways we would encourage her on the long road ahead. We gathered songs, poems, and stories of resiliency and courage. The Ginkgo was going to be our symbol of resiliency and struggle for life through adversity. Yesterday we planted one in her memory, generously donated by friends who are now wishing some of that resiliency for us.

11 Replies to “A Tree for Norah”

  1. Nancy Curry says:

    Trees are my heroes. They have seen storms, Kingdoms come and go, Presidents change, and society change.

    They stand silent, and strong. What a beautiful tribute to Norah to plant a Living Tree in her honor. Especially the Ginkgo.

    I think about you all often. I sent the special items to you, but Oops it was the wrong address. Somehow I will get the right one and get them to you.

    Much love and warm thoughts always for you all.

  2. Vickie Glinski says:

    If trees could talk, oh the stories they could tell. A perfect tribute to honor Norah’s memory. Maybe in time a bench could be added. It will be a place where you can spend time, together or individually. I can imagine each or all of you sitting beside or under that tree as it matures, speaking of or talking with Norah. There will be laughter and tears. And I do believe that Norah will be there as the sunlight dances through the leaves and as the leaves whisper in the wind. Much love from a fan.

  3. Linda Warehime says:

    What a beautiful idea planting this particular tree in Norah’s memory. Please know you continue to be prayed for here in Maryland as you travel through each day differently now . Much love always ….

  4. Phil Kniss says:

    Thanks for this beautiful post and update, Peggy and Eric. You are often in our minds. Ginkgos are also one of my favorite trees. I’m grateful for PVMC’s landscape decision-makers in 1995 who had the foresight to plant about 5 of them. Can’t wait for their annual fall showing in a few weeks. Love to you all! Hope Lydia’s off to a good start in her school year.

  5. Suzann Davies says:

    Once again thank you for sharing your thoughts and journey with us. What a beautiful tribute to Norah. I so wish that I had known her. Peace to you as you continue to experience your memory of her through this gift of love . I continue to remember you all in my thoughts and prayers as time moves forward.

  6. Grandma Sue says:

    I can’t wait to sit in its shade. There was a Ginko tree on my college campus when I was a student. We learned about its ancient history and its uniqueness in Bio class. I can’t think of a more fitting tree to be planted for Norah. She was unique and at times wise beyond her age. I miss her soooo much!

  7. Lisa Klosinski says:

    How lovely! Thank you again for continuing to share with us. All of your family is still very much in thoughts & prayers regularly.

  8. Cindy Dickel says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. At first glance I thought the tree looked like a Redbud tree of which we planted two of them this year. Thanks for the history lesson in regards to the Ginkgo tree. A very suitable tribute in Norah’s honor. May it bring wonderful memories of her every time you look at it.

  9. Penny and Rick says:

    I learned about the Ginko many years ago while in college in my biology class, while we went on a walking tour to identify the many trees on our campus. That was a long long time ago, yet that tree remains to be one of my favorites. What a beautiful tribute to Norah. As it grows tall and full, may it bring peace and solace to your hearts knowing her spirit is living within the life of the tree.

  10. Kim Johnson says:

    Norahs ginkgo tree represents love and peace…we all need one❤️ Thank you for sharing this site and your story.

  11. Jan Houser says:

    My hope is that one day Lydia will derive some comfort from your family’s ginkgo tree. This reminds me of a book for teens called Walk Two Moons. No one in your family is ready to read this book, which explores loss, but one of the characters in the book is noted for hugging and kissing the trees on the property. We continue to send prayers and thoughts your way. Once more, thank you so much for sharing your journey.

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