Dawn Tolbert

Writer
#366Days

Oak #366Days Day 292

Picking out Daddy’s casket was hard. We wanted something that would suit him and honor the man he was. My brother, who inherited Daddy’s love of woodworking, wanted to be sure we chose something made of or accented with wood. Our final choice was oak. 

Yesterday, Larry and I had to go to Rome to run a few errands and in the car Larry said something that went straight to my heart. He said, “Oak is perfect because he was an oak.”

I’ve always thought that interview question was silly, you know the one: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” Who knows that kind of stuff!

Well, Larry is right. My daddy was an oak. 

I Googled “oaks” this morning and found they are recognized across the world as symbols of strength and endurance. Nations choose oaks to represent themselves because of the awe they inspire. Grand, sweeping, pointing to heaven. 

But oaks mean something to me personally as well. Just outside our front door when I was a kid was a giant oak tree. It provided shade and shelter for our playhouse that sat underneath it. I remember spending hours sitting at its base, playing with my family of acorn people, practicing what I now see as the craft of storytelling as I planned and plotted their lives in their home nestled among the roots of that oak tree. 

That oak was strong, tall and grand, but gentle and sheltering as well. Like my daddy. 

My early morning oak-reading reminded me of Psalm 1 which compares the man who delights in the Lord to being like a tree planted by streams of water. Deep roots, sheltering, flourishing with fruit. 

We used to worry some that if that oak tree in the yard ever fell it would crush the house. Our Southern mixture of droughts and winds and rains finally got the best of that tree a few years back. It came down, but didn’t crush the house like we thought. It fell perfectly between the house and barn. 

I miss that oak tree, but there are so many memories of my life that played out under its shelter — from childhood play, to sitting in the yard with my grandparents breaking beans and shelling peas, to high school graduation and prom photos, to holding my nephew when he was a baby, to a million other things that are racing through my mind. 

I’m so grateful for the memories. Last night we sat around the table and told stories of Daddy. We laughed a lot and cried a little and were abundantly thankful, so very thankful for the great Oak of a Daddy, Husband, and Papa that God gave us. 

7 Comment

  1. So well written Dawn. Bill fondly remembers your dad as being his SS teacher when he was a boy. Your dad was only 8 years older than Bill. However, he was a strong oak in the bible teaching at that age. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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