A Covid Memorial Tree was planted next to the Carriage House at Peninsula Community Library (PCL) on Saturday, August 28, 2021, to honor all those lost to the pandemic.
It was a lovely service, with the planting done by the tree committee of the Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society (OMPHS). Kirk Knobloch, owner of KLM Landscaping across the road from the library, donated the tree, as well as his time and equipment for the planting.
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The service included an introduction by Jim Hall, OMPHS Tree Committee member, an opening message by PCL Director Vicki Shurly, and a poem read by OMPHS President Nikki Sobkowski.
Planting of the tree, along with biodegradable cards submitted by OMP residents with messages for loved ones and all those lost, was done by Jim Hall, Kirk Knobloch, and Mary Morgan, a member of OMPHS and also the librarian for the Local History Room at the library.
During the planting, yours truly played a piece on my violin entitled “Ashokan Farewell,” from The Civil War docuseries by Ken Burns, which first aired on PBS in 1990. According to a story by the New York Times, Jay Ungar wrote the piece on a September morning in 1982, and it helped to save the Catskill place that inspired the song, resulting in the Ashokan Center, a $7.25 million campus dedicated to traditional music, Catskill history, environmental education, and local arts and crafts.
A stone with a memorial plaque, along with a bench, will be placed near the Covid Memorial Tree for those seeking a quiet space for reflection and meditation.
Here is the beautiful message written and read by Vicki Shurly. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible.
This is a gathering that I could never have imagined happening in my lifetime. The past year and a half have been the stuff of a science fiction novel, yet all so real. It is difficult to know what to say when there is simply nothing adequate. Throughout this pandemic, I don’t think any of us have had the right words. Yet it is not a time for eloquence. To lose someone when you cannot have the comfort of human contact, when the world seems so dark and we feel so alone, is an indescribably sorrowful thing.
Author Kate DiCamillo said in The Tale of Despereaux, “Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Make some light.“
Yet, we have to wonder how to do this in this time of global grieving. The darkness has touched each of us, some more poignantly than others. All the usual words of comfort seem inadequate – I am sorry for your loss. I am sad to hear this. You are in my thoughts. Sometimes, things are difficult to put into words.
Where there is love and caring, however, I don’t think we can go wrong. Shannon Alder wrote, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
The stories of those we love will alway be a part of who we are. Today, we remember those we loved who didn’t make it through. Their memory lives on in our hearts, our own stories and through the life of this tree we plant today.