Lemon Tree

When I was a girl, my dad had lots of advice for me, maybe more, even than the average dad because when I was 2, my dad was given a death sentence. He was diagnosed with MS in 1953. The doctors gave him 10 to 12 years; he got 18.

I don’t know the circumstances, but I know that back then, there was not as much knowledge about auto-immune diseases. I’m not sure the term even existed. They knew how MS worked, but not why. There were theories, but no answers, and the only certain diagnosis came in an autopsy. Many other conditions present symptoms similar to MS.

My dad and I were close. We really just simply (beyond loving each other like dad and daughter) we LIKED each other. He encouraged every little interest I had; he encouraged my independent spirit.

Among the advice he gave me was advice about luv. “Make no entangling alliances, MAK. Follow the Monroe Doctrine.” I was seven. What did I know about the Monroe Doctrine?  He told me.

Based on his advice, and songs he liked and recommended to me, I suspect my dad was disappointed in love. He’d married my mom and that was enough to disappoint anyone. She remains to me a mysterious creature who seems to have had a bitter love/hate relationship with pretty much everything, especially with those who loved her most.

Two of the songs are “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” by Gale Garnett and “Lemon Tree” by Peter Paul and Mary. I don’t know how many dads tell their daughters to follow the messages contained in these songs.

I’ve been cleaning out the garage believing that I would end up having to have the thing pulled down and rebuilt. I’m happy that is not the case. In the cleaning, I’ve found some surprising things. Yesterday, in a little old leather notebook my dad gave me in which to keep my poems, I found tucked and hidden away, two poems of his. I believe he wrote them to me. Both of them are advice for me, how to live my life when he is no longer with me.


8 thoughts on “Lemon Tree

  1. Martha, what a treasure that newly-found little notebook must be to you, with its two poems hidden away for you to read all these years later – a message across time from a dad who clearly cherished you. I’m so happy for you!

  2. It is so wonderful when we find such memories by surprise. I still have my dad’s essays that he wrote at at school some time in the 1920’s, one of them being the report on a football match he visited with his elder brother who died after an accident at the age of 21.
    MS is naturally something that always make
    s me look twice. Both your father and my friend’s boyfriends’s father died from MS. I was diagnosed this year in March with MS, but probably had it for at least 30 years and written it off as something else.
    I never think of it being a fatal illness, but a lot has been done to develop medicine, just not yet a cure, but who knows. I feel OK, am slowing down, but not feeling that the grim reaper will be making a call any day now. He can wait, I have a few blogs to write first of all. 🙂

    • My dad volunteered for a lot of experimental treatments and who knows? The 18 years he got instead of the 10 he was told he would get might have been the result of some of those experiments. 🙂

  3. The only pieces of good advices I got from my father were:

    1) It’s not what you don’t know that can get you. It’s what you DO know that’s wrong.
    2) If they want a quick answer (yes or no), the answer is always NO.
    3) When buying real estate, three words: Location, location, location.

    My father summed up.

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