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"Three Years Later"

In memory of William "Willie" David Stewart Balzer
November 10, 1992 ... March 10, 1993

by Ned Balzer

reprinted with permission

Margie, Benjamin and I drove up to Sibley Regional Park (above Oakland, CA) today; we took our friend Roger with us. It was a drizzly day, wet, fresh and a little melancholy. We planted some Sweet Williams at the foot of the "Willie tree", an oak tree we planted in November 1993 on what would have been Willie's 1st birthday.

The rain made the earth soft and easy to dig in with our trowels. Benjamin stood stock still in his too-large raincoat. We told him what we were doing but he is still a little too young to understand about his brother. But he's not too young to want to help. I helped him place a flower in the hole I had dug, but he was really more interested in handling the "coop" (scoop = trowel), and he did a good job digging the next hole. Our hands were all muddy.

After all of the sweet Williams were planted we stood and looked at the tree for awhile, and told Willie that we missed him. Then we took packets of wildflower seeds (Burpee's "California Mix") out of our pockets and scattered the seeds around. Perhaps if enough wildflowers get established there the poison oak won't encroach so much. It really bothered me at first until another friend, who is a gardener and has dealt with poison oak many times, pointed out that there was nothing that could be done about it, and how pretty it is, and how it will keep vandals away from the tree, or at least make them itch.

The tree is thriving, I am happy to say -- it would be really hard on me if it weren't. Although it doesn't need any care from us, it gives us something to care for, and it gives us a destination in this strange state when we find ourselves wandering and directionless.

The rain was still coming down, and Ben was beginning to complain, so we said our final good-byes (not our final good-byes), and walked down the path back to the car.

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