Saturday, October 5, 2013

tea olives :: aunt linda's story

I will never smell a tea olive tree without thinking of my Aunt Linda.
The older I get the more I experience death...but that doesn't make it any easier.

For years my Aunt Linda had been battling cancer...and most of those years in great victory.  One year ago the cancer finally took her body.  

One of the hardest things for me about death is all the things I wish I had said.  You would think that I would have learned by now to take a cue from John Mayer and just say what I need to say without waiting around.  But somehow I always end up crying my biggest tears over the things left unspoken.  Maybe when it comes to those you love the words are never enough.

My Aunt Linda had a deep and wide faith.  She also had a green thumb.  I think gardening was part of her worship.  The way that she cared for and enjoyed every flower and tree that surrounded her house in the woods was a tender act of love. 

She planted two tea olive trees right outside of her garage many years ago.  They grew and grew but never bloomed...never produced that lovely fragrance they are known for...

until a year before she died.  

One afternoon I walked up to her back door and breathed in a sweetness that I didn't recognize.  When I asked Aunt Linda about it she told me the story of the tea olive trees.  

She had wondered after 5 and then 6 and then 7 years why they weren't blooming.  Someone had suggested that maybe she had planted two male trees so they were unable to cross-pollinate.  After all those years, she assumed they would never bloom.  
But then one day...
they just did.  

As we stood there breathing them in she smiled and said...
just one more gift God has kept me alive to receive.

My Aunt Linda knew how to receive what God gave...the good and the bad.  She received them both with grace.  It's one of the many things I always admired about her.  One of the ways that she influenced me to be a better person.

I miss my Aunt Linda.  
We all do.  
There is a hole in our family without her.  

But I remember her when I see my kids cuddled up under the quilts that she lovingly made them.

I remember her when I choose the joy of counting gifts...on the good days...and the bad.
and I remember her every time the sweet fragrance of a tea olive crosses my path.  

There are some people who, like those trees, produce such a beautiful fragrance in their lifetime that there is always a sweet part of them that lingers here with us.
for we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing...
2 corinthians 2:15