The Family Tree

Her doctor didn’t understand why, in what would be the last weeks of her life, Rose had wanted to have her bed in the lounge room rather than in her bedroom. The lounge room looked out onto the front yard, which was often filled with the noise of playing children and sound of cars passing by. Rose’s bedroom, on the other hand, was at the far end of the house where she could sleep quietly and peacefully as the morphine worked its magic. The lounge room had the large picture window which framed a beautiful frangipani tree as a perfect creation of nature. As her body and mind were slowly weakening through the final stages of a hideous disease, Rose could focus on the frangipani tree, disconnecting from the pain, and reconnecting with the tree and all that had been beautiful in her life.

The day that Rose’s parents had the pregnancy confirmed, they bought a young frangipani tree to plant in the front garden. It was one of the less common ones, with peach at the throat and fuchsia on the petals, the colour fading to ivory at the lip. When they bought the fresh, young tree, they imagined that their unborn child would also thrive and be strong and beautiful, just like it. They wanted a tree that would reach out to touch the lives of others in what they hoped would be a long and significant life for their child. The tree was a symbol of new life, growth, and love.
Rose’s parents had bought a house in a new part of town on a one acre block with plenty of room for a garden. Rose’s father planted the tree in the centre of their front yard, surrounded by a magnificent bed of daisies and pansies. The earliest photos of Rose were of her parents holding her in the hospital, with a vase of small but perfectly formed frangipani flowers in the background. The tree flourished all through the warmer months and was well developed by Rose’s first birthday. This tree grew to become a symbol of their family life and as Rose grew older, the more connections and attachments she...