PEPPERELL — It was a ceremony that Outreach Coordinator Beth Selinger was looking forward to for a while.
On June 25, she and volunteer Susan McCarthy unveiled the Senior Center’s Tree of Memories for a group of seniors, gather to recognized friends and family who have passed on.
“We recognize these names in loving memory of them, those who we still hold deep in our hearts,” Selinger said.
The tree, which McCarthy said she gathered in her back yard after a storm, is a bare, elegant piece which was sprayed a wintery white color, and had no leaves. However, by the end of the ceremony it is blooming with memory ornaments, green cards cut into different shapes such as angels, hearts and even a coffee mug, and featuring names and photos.
Chaplain Bobby Girard, of the Beacon Hospice, said the tree is a “wonderful symbol of our lives.”
“It moves with the season cycle, the acorn a symbol of the potentiality of it can become,” he said. “During the wonderful springtime, it grows.
“In the summertime, it provides life in a forest; food, shade, so much, living the life of a tree and providing goodness for other things.”
Summer and spring do not last forever, as in life, said Girard, but they come as a natural part of it.
“In autumn, the tree declines in one way, but it is incapable of producing those colors and smells in summer,” Girard said. “By winter it appears without life, and we are here to remember those for whom winter has come, yet the tree is just dormant, and those we remember have moved on to a new and eternal springtime.”
After Girard’s reflection, Selinger and Council on Aging Director Marcia Zaniboni called out names of friends and family passed on. As names were called, audience members brought up memory ornaments, slowly bringing the tree back to life.
McCarthy and her husband Mark sang two songs, “All I Ask of You,” to open the dedication and “Amazing Grace “at its closing.
“Beth (Selinger) used to do hospice,” McCarthy said after the ceremony. “A tree of remembrance shows that bereavement has it’s place, It was something I wanted to do since I began volunteering.
Aside from creating the tree, McCarthy also cut and assembled the templates for the ornaments.
Resident Nancy Whalen read a poem she received from Elenor Duda, her friend who passed away suddenly in mid-December.
“The time is now, love me so I know you love me now while I am living,” Whalen read. Before there is death between us, if you love me even a little bit, let me know it, so I can treasure it.”
Today, Girard said, we are bound by the “common bond of grief, but it is not grief, but love that brings us here today.” He went onto read an anonymous prayer I Am Always With You, and asked those in attendance to imagine those passed on are speaking to them through it.
“I am always with you, even when you are not able to feel me in your heart,” he said. “I love you always, I surround you with my protecting love…”
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