Here is my first sneak peek reading of “The Tree of Happiness”
I need help. It is my belief those are the three hardest words
My name is Cindy.
Rewind a half a century, and that is where my story begins.
I was the second of four children. My sister, Cheryl, is the
oldest, then me. Bobby came along five years later and Peter, who
could have been a prodigy, came eight years after that.
Neither of my parents graduated from high school. My
mother was sixteen and my dad twenty-three when they got married
in 1963. I was born eleven months after my sister. I always felt like I
was an accident. I was born into struggle.
I’m on the middle of the introvert scale.
I’ve always liked solitude.
My mother excused my behavior as “shy” when I was
younger. I hated to talk because I had a stutter. I attended speech
therapy when I started school to improve my speech impediment.
People told me that I was wise beyond my years. That I was
an old soul.
But I wandered aimlessly. I thought mostly about my
security. Scared and trusting of no one.
I pretended to be brave for my siblings who leaned on me,
but really, I was terrified, too.
My father was alcoholic until I was five. We didn’t realize
what this meant until much later in life.
I always wanted to fit in. I wanted friends, but I didn’t know
how to communicate outside of my own head.
My mother once identify me as a “loner.”
Sometime around kindergarten, my dad was saved and
became a Christian. We started going to church. We learned of God.
We went to Sunday School. We sang “Jesus Loves Me.”
The Tree of Happiness
I had loved nature since a young age.
I spent much of my free time on a tree platform with my
brother, Bobby. We were closest.
That tree with Bobby was the first place I can ever remember
experiencing internal joy. The trunk held us up high on the branches
as we constructed our tranquility. The wooden platform was nailed
with hundreds of nails.
I could feel God in this tree. Yes, God as I knew him.
This tree, without purpose or intent, gave me shade and
shelter from the chaos in my childhood. The bark was fractured,
coarse and grayish brown. The height reached sixty or sixty-five feet.