Years ago my parents moved to the country and bought a little farm. 17 acres…trails…ponds…horses… grass.
It was a place of respite, a place my father found peace during and after 32 years of military service. He went to work remodeling, building, designing and mowing, all with the dream in mind of having his Brothers (his team guys) and their families come WHENEVER they wanted simply to rest from the world. When he went to plant the beds in front of the house he decided he wanted a huge red maple but there were none anywhere. My parents drove hours and hours looking for a nursery for this ONE baby red maple to grow in the front yard.
When he died- leaving piles of wood, flooring, his brand new jumping horse and a thousand little dreams unfinished – my mom and I would look at that tree and laugh. “At least he got to plant the damn tree.”
Nearly four years have gone by and the vision to build a retreat for our Brothers in service grew in my mother’s heart. And it grew and it grew, and things started to happen. We found a property further south and looked at it- it was gorgeous and out front was a statue of St. Francis. The plantation wasn’t available yet but we knew St. Francis was a sign. He was once a warrior who devoted his life to the service of his brothers. Who found rest and Peace, and God … outdoors, in nature, protecting every living thing.
Two years went by and with the statistic of 24 Veteran suicides a day, we were feeling the weight of this need. When we LEAST expected it, we happened upon a property that fit EVERY SINGLE NEED we had for this vision. It had been reduced from $2.1 Million to $995,000. Already it looked promising and as we toured the 35 acres of gorgeous oak, pine, ornamental pear trees, standing at the end of the line, as if leading an army, was this one red maple tree. About the size my dad’s tree would have been if he were alive. The only one in sight. The only one in over 38 acres around us and we knew.
We just knew.
From that point every single corner we turned was another sign – even a woodworking room with lumber ready for rebuilding- as if he picked up the pile from our old house and dropped it off at the new place just so we felt at home.
Oh yes, and there in the back of the property, hidden in clover, looking at the muck of our back bay, a small statue of St. Francis looked on, minus an arm and with a gape in his core. It was a grotesque coincidence, that our dream was to help veterans regroup and regain life after 13 years at war and here was this man, a veteran warrior, with a hole in his heart, just needing a hand.
I started to weep.
We simply could not afford this on our own. We called family, our friends called friends and long story short – between an amazing guy in Beverly Hills, a Brother Frogman and world renowned star, and a few other divinely set-up people, within DAYS our offer was on the table and ACCEPTED.
Within hours we had $100,000 for our deposit and the contract was signed but there was one more condition – we come up with $90,000 more to put down not because they were trying to deter us but simply because of regulations. So – here we are – 10 days from closing and we are in need of oh you know, just an extra 100K.
We believe this is supposed to happen and we have no idea how. It’s brought a community of people together already which I believe is a miracle in itself, but we need more. So friends, please pray. Please share with those who have a heart for our Veterans, and for this dream. Please give if that’s what you can do. And if you have insight, vision, thoughts, ideas, let us know! It’s just the beginning and we need all the chutzpah we can get.
#LZGrace #OneRedMaple #Wehealtheliving
Please donate here: http://www.gofundme.com/91nmbk
Sheri L. Bukowski © All rights reserved
7 thoughts on “One Red Maple (by Sheri Bukowski)”
What you have and are doing is wonderful, and I strongly believe in ‘Signs’! I had a 150 yr. old stained glass window come my my way before I moved to the Virgin Islands, she of course is the Patron Saint of these special islands. As a Preservationist & Activist, I became very devoted to the sweet people in my downtown neighborhood pushing hard for needed positive change. I have been addressing issues regarding our Military and especially PTSD on my FB page, that some of the sweet SEALS and Blue Angels have dropped in on. You are on a truly Divine Mission. The Honorable Military Men in my family before me, kneel down before you and yours in immense gratitude. BUT I feel strongly we must also push hard to turn our Country around so that ridiculous and improper deployments cease, otherwise many of the difficulties will continue, as sadly we are no longer the America we once were, that our Military was SO honored to serve. I have personally embraced the larger-scale strategy. Kindest regards, Jan Lundquist
This is beautiful, Sheri. Thank you for sharing the story. I’m sorry your dad isn’t physically here to help you and your mom realize his dream but I’m sure he helps out with the signs being left for you. How wonderful that you share this passion with your mom. It makes my heart sing. God bless you both.
Patrick did you see this one by that lady that wrote that beautiful piece when her husband died…
Jokelley, this piece was written by my daughter, Sheri Bukowski. Thank you so much for your kind words.
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