The Day I Dreaded Has Come
The clock just passed midnight and the new day is April 24, 2013. It is a day that I have been dreading, but the time has come to say goodbye.
We all hate losing something we love. It means something different to everyone. The memories come flooding back and I know that other people have just as many good, positive recollections as I do.
Sometimes you have to be in the family to understand. People look in from the outside and they feel bad for you, but they don’t understand the depth of your pain. I don’t expect them to, actually.
Today the iconic oak trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn will be cut down. They are just trees, you might say, but anyone that ever took their kids to roll those trees with toilet paper understands they are more.
Anyone that ever walked under those trees holding the hand of someone they loved understands those oaks are more than just trees.
Generations of my family have shared over time two physical locations that bound us together, no matter where we settled. One was Compass Lake, a place shared by six generations that is part of the fabric of our collective memory. The other was Toomer’s Corner, shared by the same six generations and just as much a part of the bond that weaves through our common memory.
I saw the trees at Christmas and knew they wouldn’t make it. It was painful to look at them and I knew they had to come down.
The Auburn Family turned out in record numbers at their A-Day game this past weekend to roll the old trees one last time and to say goodbye.
Good things will happen because of the tragic poisoning of these big oak trees. Toomer’s Corner will be renovated and expanded as the front door to Auburn University. New trees will be planted that will be beautiful over time. The traditions will continue; they will just be different.
The Toomer’s Oaks were more than just trees. They were part of the heart and soul that makes Auburn a special place. They weren’t more special than the icons that are important to Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets, Seminoles or Gators. Even Alabama fans have enough of a heart to love the things that bind them together. Lately that has been National Championships.
But for me, personally, and for hundreds of thousands of the Auburn Family these majestic oaks were special. They were a living thing that embodied the best about a place that I have loved all my life. I’ll move on and keep my good memories, but I will always, always miss them.
Dan Ponder, Auburn ’76, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.