Life continues

The great oak tree beyond the end of our garden is over 500 years old. It’s winter: the leaves on the oak have fallen to the ground. Well below the oak tree’s trunk are roots - strong, wide and extending unseen.

January 25, 2024

That great oak tree reminds me of my father. At his peak, he was an imposing man, physically and mentally. Last month, aged 80, he died.

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My siblings and I attempt to live out the words of wisdom he imbued in us. Plan ahead, keep your options open, control what you can…The roots are strong. Life continues.

People from different walks of his life have got in touch, sharing how they have been inspired. By his positivity in the face of difficulty. By his courage when confronting erring politicians. By his ability to think outside of the box. For instance, when he hit on the idea of persuading Jean Paul Getty, the richest man in the world at the time and a famous recluse, to open up his nearby mansion to raise funds for a local good cause. Apparently, it was so successful the main dual carriageway in the area came to a standstill; the event was the first item on that evening’s national news. The roots are wide. Life continues.

I now see my father’s grandchildren have taken on aspects of his character. Even sharing what they have learnt with other young people. The roots are extending. Life continues.

Under the oak tree, I know signs of life are present though not easily visible.

Soon, I believe more leaves will cover its branches and new life will emerge, so far unperceived. I’m ready to wait.

My father was pretty sure there’s no further life to come for him. As with the oak tree in winter, my belief is there will be life anew. In the book Muslims turn to for guidance, the Qur’an, God says: “And We send down blessed rain from the sky, bringing forth gardens and grains for harvest, and towering palm-trees loaded with clustered fruits, as provision for Our Servants. And with this rain, we revive a lifeless land. Similar will be mankind’s coming-forth from death. [50:9-11].”

As with that dormant oak tree, I can’t yet see all the signs of my father’s new life. I’m ready to wait.