My realtor’s car pulled into the parking space designated #606, and we both emerged from the vehicle, I – staring into the lipstick red bougainvillea tree blooming like an adolescent girl, demarking the end space in  that section of the lot. Immediately, I fell in love with that tree. I didn’t need to see the apartment. I wanted to live near that tree. And to add to such largess, its twin sister stood straight and tall only feet from the front door.

With a short cursory look around, “I’ll take it.” were the very words my realtor had hoped to hear, and within weeks, my precious “stuff” slinked easily into 1450 square feet, after having been surrounded and overstuffed into 3500 square feet. And I felt like twinkle toes.

That was almost 3 years ago. And alas, the parking lot tree has since lost its bloom, its branches  dry as a cadaver, standing sentinel over my parking space – (which I never use since I have a garage)  Every time I looked at it, I felt like crying.  Every time  guests  parked there, I wanted to engage them in a hugging ceremony with me. Dead as the proverbial doornail, it might have been in a Vermont forest in mid January.

I mourned my tree for months, ambivalent about its presence – How long do you keep a dead body in full view? The sun burst on it, the clouds peed on it, but there it stood – motionless, bare, desolate.

And today, as I hauled my garbage to the dumpster abutting the space – OMG!! My tree was gone, a mere stump of it still snug in the earth. I stared at the emptiness and I heard my Ibis chirping nearby and I watched the mother duck-in-residence waddling in front of her babes on the parking lot. The scene was funereal.

And then, I had an out of body experience. Some other me – not the one I thought I knew — walked around among the various flowers and bushes in the community with a pan and a clipper and a trowel – and I collected a variety of colorful flowers into the pan — pulled out a stool from my garage (I have an old cranky back that doesn’t take well to bending) dragged my water hose to the spot, doused the earth around the stump, and proceeded to plant flowers around it. And boy! Did that make me feel good.

And here’s the thing. I wanted to write a thoughtful, insightful, philosophical piece about reaching my 90th birthday this month.  I wanted to list everything I learned about life, to dispense my wisdom and advice, to pontificate on “my secrets” of longevity and to extoll with infinite gratitude the randomness of just plain good luck.  But instead  – I wrote about my dead tree, and the joyousness  of  living flowers in its place.

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