"Tree species number over 23,000 in the world and apart from helping mankind to live longer and better, their very presence teaches much when it comes to understanding the importance of one's roots. Tree roots, like those of families spread farther when they are planted in familiar soil that nourish and enrich. Their roots go much deeper than the frost can ever reach. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that a person without past knowledge of their family history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Their good name will not endure from one generation to the next.
It is no coincidence today that my family is stronger in itself than it has ever been in the past, because it has outsourced its rooted love ever wider and deeper. Though I was always close to all my family (near and extended), I know that my six brothers and sisters openly express love for each other in a way that the siblings of my parents and their parents never did. This is not only due to changing times and newer climates, but also different ways. Whereas my grandmother taught my mother how to darn socks, bake bread and milk cows, my mother taught her sons and daughters how to openly express love for each other and that is what me and my siblings have taught our children. Wise families take from and build upon all of the ancestral good that has gone before and the Forde Family today, whatever its flaws, is far stronger and is more entwined and closer to its roots than it has ever been.
We all grow up with the weight of history on our shoulders. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do within the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every dna cell of our bodies. Though we never knew them, we may look like, talk like, act like and display all kind of mannerisms an aunt or uncle did one hundred years earlier. And when we die, not everything of what we were or became dies with us, but is passed on to future generations.
Just as all trees keep the light deep in their roots, so it is with family past. Those who allow darkness to dwell too long in family trees are prone to lose touch with what really matters. Bitterness allowed to prevail in families is so destructive to the soul and body trunk. To damage one's roots is the surest way to destroy oneself and to abandon one's roots is certain to get you lost in the world. Nourish yourself on the good in your family however, and a stronger heritage will be your reward to pass on to your offshoots and their children..
To me, trees have always been the best of teachers and the most penetrating of nature's preachers. I recall as an 11 year old boy, dying in a side room at the old Batley Hospital. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I could see the outline of a leafless tree outside the room window. I knew that as long as my eyes could see the tree that I lived.
Like all good families, trees are sanctuaries; they provide shade and shelter in moments of greatest need. Though they invariably stand alongside similar species of neighbour, often they can be found among many other forest species. I most admire and revere those trees however, who are prepared to extend their roots to strange soil. Such trees often are found standing alone in order to obtain a view of the forest that other trees may never dare to see.
Whenever I travel back to the village where I was born in Ireland, I instantly feel reattached to my past when I see a familiar tree in the fork of the road, one half mile from Portlaw Village. Seeing this tree reminds me I am close to my roots. The tree stirs in me a longing for home, for a smell and memory of the mother country which is safe in lasting familiarity. In travelling the last half mile that will lead me to the bridge that marks the entrance to Portlaw Village, there is a freshness in the air which tells me, 'You've made it; you're home!'
I see the trees that surround the church on the hill nearby, the church where I was baptised. Trees border the church grave yard that has marked gravestones of my uncles, grandparents and ancestors going back to the nineteenth century; the graveyard in which my own ashes will one day be spread. Once back on home soil, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is family.
When next you see a person hug a tree, know that they do not embrace bark alone; they hug their past. Remember also that unlike trees, God created mankind with legs along with free will in order that we can wander beyond our root base. We are at our most vulnerable when we throw off our family roots and leave behind family values, for it is then we become more susceptible to sickness and disease. Only by returning and reattaching ourselves to family roots during such moments can we feel that we are back on safe ground and are at home once more." William Forde: December 1st, 2015.