I Wish...

As a young boy, I told my parents I was not a people person. I wanted to spend time with plants or most importantly playing baseball. A salesman or Customer Service Rep. would never be my cup of tea. How prophetic a proclamation. Where have I spent almost 30 years? In the service industry, customer service, sales and co-owner of a company. How little we know, especially when we are young. I think youth and common sense may be a good oxymoron. 

I wish I had paid better attention to things during my youth. I thought of this while watching the news the other night. It reported the death of a celebrity, a broadcaster, one with whom I had shared my childhood sports. He was flawless, had a voice recognized by all of us, was highly respected and was a household name to not just sports addicts but to America itself. His name was Dick Schapp.

This was the second person this week that made me stop, think and inspect. Mr. Schapp and my new friend, Ramona, whom you will meet later, had given me a weekend filled with introspection of days past and present. Recently, I made myself a promise that I would not live in any compartment during this year, except that of today’s, remembering that yesterday’s investments were spent, while thoughts of tomorrow were simply locked in intangible dreams. How often we spend precious time worrying about yesterday’s decisions, or reciting words saved for that abstract time we call tomorrow, a moment that does not yet exist.

Have you ever longed for something? Many of us long for material things, money, houses, clothes, or in the purest sense, food or the love of family or a friend. Mr. Schapp and Ramona had brought this to light. They made me want for something. They made me wonder how much I was getting out of life, and relationships, regardless of how formal or informal they may be. I have enjoyed Mr. Shapp’s commentary on the world and his slant on news and sports since I was a child. Why did it take his death to install the proverbial traffic light, so to speak.

Being a product of the 50’s and 60’s, I have an incurable habit of relating day to day life to music, usually Rock and Roll music, occasionally blues but never country. We all remember Joni Mitchell, don’t we? Remember the song, Pave Paradise? Let me sing some of the words for you, but please, imagine Joni singing, not me. “Well they took all the trees and put ‘em in a tree museum, then they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ‘em. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone, they paved paradise, put up a parking lot”. What a sad thing it is when we say, “I wish I would have…”, or “if only I would have…”.

It’s not just about Dick Schapp, it’s everyday life itself. As Og Mandino, inspirational writer and lecturer said, “live each day in a ‘day-tight’ compartment”, living for moments of joy and friendships, rather than wishing and hoping. The moment in which we live is within our grasp, while yesterday and tomorrow are no more than memory and imagination. Napoleon Hill once wrote, and I paraphrase; it is profoundly significant that the Creator has given us complete control over only one thing, our thoughts, and those thoughts, quite mysteriously, have the uncanny ability to transform themselves into their physical equivalency. How careful we should be, as we feed the sub-conscious part of our mind, for it has no conscience or guilt, knows not a lie or a truth but only reacts to that which it is given in a most objective fashion. Feed it with darkness, so shall that be. Inspire it with hope and success, and it will be yours, forever!

Over the years I have become close to various clients. Some of those clients have died. One in particular, Florence, had become a good friend. My business visits with her were special. We would get in her four-wheel drive and cruise the property. She said that upon her passing the land would be placed in the stewardship of the Nature Conservancy. She would fret that she was not the steward the Conservancy expected her to be and hoped they would not chastise her for her inattention. I always assured her that if there was a definition of stewardship, it would be a picture of her glorious face and her eternal Scotswoman way. We would sit and look over her self planted forest, watch the sun rise or fall and chat about life and its magnificent opportunities. As well as a naturalist, she was a writer with whom I would discuss style and rules for writing. I am thankful to say that I ended up with a small part of her, in the form of her book, signed with love, Florence. On my last visit, I found her house full of relatives, tending to her things. Florence had experienced a stroke only a week earlier, and was found dead on her bedroom floor. I stood at her door and asked myself, “could I remember all we had done, and why hadn’t we done more”? She had become a friend and it ached because the good, they do leave too soon. Then, into my life stepped Ramona.

Ramona is my senior. I turned 52 this year, so she is probably 53. I have a friend to thank for this introduction, and again it was a business meeting that brought us together. As she and my friend chatted about flowers and plants I asked if I could tour her library. You can learn a great deal about a person from their library, and something struck me about Ramona’s. As I returned to my seat, Ramona handed me a book. I skimmed over the title and went right to the author. Remember our earlier conversation about not paying attention? This got my attention. The name on this book was the same as the majority of the books in the other room. Without a word, I rose and went back to the library and read carefully. The shelves housed numerous literary awards as well as books, all inscribed with the same name as was on the one Ramona handed me. It was Ramona’s last name, the name of her late husband.

I dream someday of being a creative writer, and have a deep appreciation for those who have a way with the written word. Ramona and her husband had spent their life’s writing together and I can only imagine how it must have been. Such things are among the true gifts of living.

Dick Schapp, Florence, Ramona, what’s the deal you ask, the significance, the importance? Where is the arboriculture in all this? What business are we in? Trees, shrubs, bugs, plant pathology, Tree and Forest Conservation, consultation? Correct. You bet, every aspect of that, but where does it all begin? It starts by the formation of relationships. Relationships that all of us build within the Care of Trees. Nothing happens until we go out, seek out and find relationships upon which this company is built. I sometimes take those relationships for granted, but I’m working hard on that. Florence and Mr. Schapp are only memories. Those of Florence I will treasure forever. Ramona on the other hand, is a new beginning, a friend, “a seed of equivalent benefit” that keeps us all looking and moving forward. The fact that voids are filled with little help from us is a very wonderful but mysterious phenomena that I am sure assists in our survival upon this earth.

The other day we had a storm roll through the Mid-Atlantic wreaking its usual havoc. One of my Charter Oak clients called in a panic saying a tree had fallen in the driveway just missing her car, and could I please help immediately. I just happened to be around the corner and arrived at her house 5 minutes after her call. She, her landscape architect, the farm manager and others were standing at the tree as I approached. She introduced me to everyone, and said she was astonished at how quickly I had responded. She looked at everyone and stepped very close to me. She then said, “let me tell all of you who this really is”, then took her finger and drew a big “S” on my chest and told everyone, “why, this is my Superman”! Think the relationships you build count for anything? Welcome to the majors! Thanks Ramona, I’ll see you soon!

Copyright 2005 by Peter Deahl. All rights reserved.

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