Friday, November 21, 2014

The Trellis Tree


This is "The Trellis Tree." It was made with an old white trellis (the wooden kind that fans out) that I found for $15. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with it. First I set it up against the wall right side up. No, that didn't speak to me.


Yet, in the back of my mind, I knew what I needed it to represent.

So I set it upside down, stood back, and mulled the situation over. Yes, I could do something with this. 

Back in my younger days as a freelance journalist, I wrote a lot of tough articles. The hardest of all were about missing children who were never found, and the children who fell victim to predators. 

They all still live in my heart. I will never forget their rooms. Or the young bodies tossed into a ditch beside the road for all to see, like trash. How can one ever forget these things? And what kind of animal that walks among us could do such a thing?

I chose to cover the trellis tree in vintage child images I printed off the computer. It would be my tribute to the children missing or long dead, never to have the chance to spend Christmas with their families again. 

The clocks represent time cut short. Innocence brutally violated because they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.



I brought in a plant stand from outside, and nailed my trellis tree just behind it. 

I made three little stockings and added buttons. And trimmed the plant stand with vintage pot holders and tucked in a few ornaments. 

Inside the plant stand I laid teddy bears atop my oldest found quilt. The teddy bears are reminiscent of those I saw in their rooms, lovingly laid on their bed pillows. 



I made a wreath with similar vintage images. 

One thing I learned, a pattern I saw when I'd go in perhaps three years from the time they were taken or murdered, was that the rooms never change. 

Dust sat on the surfaces. But the parents were loath to change the rooms at all. That to me was the most haunting thing I remember. 

The softball trophies of a missing 13 year old girl. The stuffed animals on the bed of a murdered child taken from school grounds. 

I guess they never ever lose hope. How could you and go on?

It is these images that stick in my mind and that I can still see from memory. The things a girl just beginning adolescence would have. A whole lifetime ahead of them, cut short by some psychopath who cared not a whit for human life.

I will never forget one of those children, though it has been many years. I cannot begin to imagine the pain of those parents. And I cannot spend a holiday without giving homage to them somehow. 



After I finished one article about a 12 year old girl snatched from a crowd of children and parents after a football game, I decided that I wanted to go to the cemetery. It was my way of ending things and trying to get it out of my head. A period at the end of the sentence.

With me was the assistant district attorney who worked the case, and put the man who killed her in prison. It was cold and the wind was blustery. He stood before her grave and I could see that his emotions were getting the best of him, so I walked away a bit to give him some privacy. 

As I walked further away, I could hear the sound of Christmas music. I stopped and tried to pinpoint where it was coming from. I realized then that it was coming from the girl's school. The school band was playing holiday music. The wrong notes that crept in made me smile. 

There seemed to me to be a reason that I was there at that particular time when her school carried on, as we all must. I motioned the district attorney over so he could hear it too. 



I hope this does not sadden you too much to read this. I know this is the Christmas season, and that should be a joyful time. I do not write this to bring your spirits down. But to be thankful for what you have. 

I wrote it to remind you to hug your little ones close. I wrote this so that you will think of those parents, and perhaps even light a candle for them.

A simple white trellis turned upside down to resemble a Christmas tree is my tribute to them all.




This post was written for the Holiday Thrift Store Challenge blog hop organized by Alice of Thoughts From Alice.

Click the links below to visit the other participants in Alice's blog hop. There are a lot of talented bloggers out there that have taken the Holiday Thrift Store Challenge, and I can't wait to see what they came up with.

Glam Christmas Throw Pillows by Thoughts from Alice



A Deerly Beloved Thrift Store Vignette by Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson





Christmas Cloche by Craftberry Bush

A Vintage Mantel for Winter by Finding Silver Pennies


Thrifty DIY Part One: Faux Fur Throw Rug by Creating Vintage Charm

DIY Holiday Walling Hanging by House of Hipsters


Christmas Decor from Thrifty Find by Town and Country Living

The Trellis Tree by Cozy Little House


DIY Centerpiece Tray by Cherished Bliss





Rustic Christmas Tree by Delineate Your Dwelling





DIY Crocks by So Much Better With Age


Simple Holiday Vignette | A Thrift Store Challenge by Restoration House Interiors

61 comments:

  1. Oh Brenda, so heart breaking to even think about. It had to be so difficult for you to write these stories but you were doing a good thing to make people more aware that these things do happen everyday. Your words really hit home with me when you mention the softball trophies and the 13 year old girl - my daughter plays softball and will turn 13 in a few weeks. I think I will be giving both of my kids extra big hugs today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were difficult to write. But I felt they needed to be written. The problem is in letting go after it's been published and time moves on. Somehow they stay in your head. I guess forever.

      Delete
  2. I studied psychology and social work in college and the plan back then was to work with abused/neglected children or along those lines in the field. The stories that I heard during my schoolwork and on the news would stay with me for weeks...months. Many to this day. I consider them part of my "collections" in my heart...of stories of children that I will never...can never...even if I wanted to...forget. They are a part of me now. As are yours. Your trellis tree on the surface is so charming and creative and the deeper, thought provoking meaning behind is a valuable reminder to all of us about the loss and lives of the children who didn't get to spend another Christmas with their families. I was so moved by the part where you heard the Christmas music in the cemetery...thank you for sharing this and taking the challenge with me Brenda. It was truly an honor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mean to bring anyone down during what is considered a jubilant season. But I also don't want people to forget the lives cut short, even if they just think about it while they read this. They should not be forgotten. It would be an even worse crime if they were forgotten.

      Delete
  3. So heartbreaking. Giving my little guy an extra tight squeeze as he's home sick today. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He won't know why. But you will. And everyone can use an extra little squeeze called love.

      Delete
  4. Yours is the only post I have visited from this hop today, that brought tears to my eyes. What a special tribute. There is a dear lady in our community who just this week lost her college-age son to a "random" act of violence. He was buying something at a convenience store when his life was brutally taken. I can't begin to imagine what she is going through. Thank you for honoring these beloved, unique lives that are dearly missed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These crimes seem to be "acts of opportunity." They pick a child out of the crowd. No one knows why they pick a certain child.

      Delete
  5. danke für die inspirationen!!! einen schönen freitag wünscht angie

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for sharing Brenda! Love this project and thanks for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I share it for those children and their families, to give them a voice. Even many years down the line.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Every young life is precious. But to a child killer, life is nothing. They only think of their needs and what they can use that child for. It is reprehensible. But we can't stop it, for it is so random.

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. I guess as with everything, there is the other side of the coin. Children should be happy at Christmas. But I don't think it should just be about how many toys they get. After awhile, it is just a glut of possessions. I think they should also be taught that life is quite precious, in whatever way you can tell them that they will understand for their age.

      Delete
  9. Your words haunt me. This is an absolutely beautiful piece and I'm so happy you shared these emotions with us. I cannot imagine writing about these horrific stories let alone be a parent in this situation. Big hugs to you and I will be giving my little ones a big squeeze this evening. Kyla @ http://houseofhipsters.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess the memories in my head will always haunt me. But that's okay. I've got a lot of room in my head for such things! It is haunting. But it is nothing compared to the parents that will never have closure, and never know where their child is or what happened to them. To me that is hell on earth.

      Delete
  10. Oh my. I don't think I could ever work in that capacity. I'd be too haunted by the evil. It's just the worst thing I can imagine as a parent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many things I can't do. But that was one thing I could do and seemed to have a talent for. I think we should use our talents. I am not just a woman who decorates & gardens. We are all many things. And if that particular talent is why a mother would read the copy before I sent it in and say: "Thank you for doing this for my child", then it is well worth it.

      Delete
  11. So very sad, so meaningful too. Praying for all those parents who never had the opportunity to see their child grow up and praying for you too Brenda for having to endure all that sadness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is sadness all over. Homeless people crouched on the sidewalk. Children without coats to keep them warm. It is a sadness that I willingly took on, because I wanted those children to be more than a case number.

      Delete
  12. i love the thought and sentiment behind this tree. i can't imagine never having closure if my child went missing. beautiful work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think anyone could imagine it unless it happened. God forbid that it does.

      Delete
  13. by far the lovliest tree created from your warm and loving heart and the memories you spoke of.

    It may not win any contests but its depth and wisdom make it No. 1 in my book.

    I thank you for sharing with us this heartfelt post and I wish I was media savvy enough to spread it around so many could read your words. They are a GIFT and need to be shared with as many as possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These stories are all over the media for a time, and then they are usually forgotten. But the parents' torment lives on. I write this for them.

      Delete
  14. What a beautiful and touching tribute to those children. My best friend was murdered when we were nine years old and there's rarely a day, even 47 years later, that I don't think of her. She would love your tree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Susan, what a tragic thing to happen to a nine year old child. For her and for you. I know it haunts you to this day, because it was during a time that shaped you. Thank you for saying that she would love my simple tree. I just don't have words to express what I know must be in your nightmares. Holding you in my heart...

      Delete
  15. Brenda, you have such a big heart and this is a lovely way to express memories of those that should never be forgotten.
    hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am an intense person when it comes to emotions. I guess that's why I chose to write what I did. Because I knew I could channel that intensity and make the story come alive for others. Not so it would haunt them. But so they would remember.

      Delete
  16. What a beautiful tribute you created in memory of these children. It is so heartbreaking to hear and how hard it must be for anyone who has suffered through this. This is such a wonderful way though to show your love and strength.

    Tammy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What it is for me is nothing to what it is for those parents who still wait for closure, and the child would be an adult now. The stories like the case where the girl was found and had two little girls by the monster are few and far between. And even though she and her girls were found and he is in prison, she will be in a prison of sorts in her mind for the rest of her life.

      Delete
  17. I'm glad to hear that you wrote this for a blog event because that might mean even more readers will see it than the many who often visit this site. Your story and the photographs of the tree and wreaths are so heartfelt and meaningful. Have you ever seen Christmas tree decorating competitions at the mall? To me, this theme would be a great one for such a tree, so that many people could be touched by the message.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know some must wonder why I write about such things. But I write about them because they are chapters in my life, and they aren't in most. I just want those who read to stop and perhaps look at photos of missing children, and realize that Christmas is a thing of the past for them. I would never want to have a child read this and be haunted by it. But their parents need to be very, very cautious about putting their children on social media. Because there are predators out there, and I can promise you most have computers.

      Delete
  18. The meaning behind this tree is priceless. The best gift you could possibly offer these children and their families is to know that they are not forgotten--you have done just that by creating this beautiful tribute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always want to give them something, but I can't possibly mitigate their suffering. So I do what I know. I write.

      Delete
  19. OH, Brenda. If ever there was a special tree ....no words. Not going to even try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My simple trellis tree had a lot of meaning for me. I cried as I added those images. For in my mind I saw real children's faces that I never got to see alive.

      Delete
  20. A beautiful tribute and sentiment...

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people may read and think: why such a story now, during such a beautiful season? Because there is always the flip side of the coin, and I hope no one who reads this has to live it. But giving it homage is a gift they can give.

      Delete
  21. Brenda, what a beautiful tribute! I think child predators are the worst. How could anyone do things like this to children? They are so innocent. The trellis tree is such a creative idea.
    hugs,
    Jann

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to remember that these predators are not like you and me. They have no conscience. I don't think there is a point in ever letting them out of prison, if society is lucky enough that they are caught, because I don't believe there is a rehabilitation for them. I don't think you could ever kill this sick instinct they have.

      Delete
  22. Heart wrenching - but a sensitively expressed reminder that there are other things going on beneath the surface amid a season otherwise full of self indulgence and carefree joy.
    You have such a beautiful and compassionate soul, Brenda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heart wrenching, I know. But I just don't want them to be forgotten.

      Delete
  23. Your tribute to these children and the families is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. As a teacher I have experienced the death of students; some from disease, some in accidents and one murdered. You never forget them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, you don't. I know I will never forget them. Death due to something like this is so very hard to even imagine. You will never forget them, and I guess that is good. Not to be haunted by it. But to be cognizant of it and to be ever more vigilant in a society where everyone is obsessed by social media, and children are, unfortunately, splashed all over the internet. Back when I was writing these stories, that wasn't the case. I can only imagine that now, predators have everything they could possibly want right there on a computer screen. Where they can pick and choose so easily.

      Delete
  24. I have to agree with Deb up above......no words!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Words are not necessary. To read it is enough.

      Delete
  25. Count me in with Deb and Nancy. No words.

    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We see these things happen, we hear it on the news, and one has to think: Thank goodness it wasn't my child. And that is not selfish. That is part of our survival instinct.

      Delete
  26. The tree is such a loving tribute to the children and their families. I don't know how people go on after losing a child, marriages, work, etc have to be resumed, the agony of it all. When I was reporting in Superior Court, one of my first cases I worked on was the killing of a little boy 4 yo by the mother's boyfriend. After I did that I said I don't want to do any more child murder cases. The years went by and I didn't come upon one until a friend got a murder case in her court. She asked me if I'd help her out, and I said only the opening and closing statements, not the testimony. I'd had an adopted daughter the same age as the little girl and I didn't want to hear the testimony. The boyfriend pushed the 3 yo daughter of the mother down the stairs. In both cases it showed how they'd been mistreated with bruising and trauma. Sometimes when I least expect it they cross my mind and I wonder about the children, how old they'd be, what they'd be doing now. Some of those memories just don't go away for us.

    ReplyDelete
  27. What a unique and lovely thing for you to do. I cannot imagine the loss those parents must bear. I was blessed to have my oldest son with us until the age of 43 when he passed; and I am blessed now to have his younger brother living with us for a while. Enjoy every moment with your children no matter their ages or what temporary grief they may have brought into your pristine life. Their lives are precious and a gift to you as a parent.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Brenda, What a touching way to honor their memory and the memory of so many other nameless/ faceless children! I love the tree and the poignant sentiment behind it! xxCharlotte

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow, what a hard and powerful story. I love that you paid tribute to them and you remember the families so! Amazing project!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love your tree idea. And I also like the story you shared. It's always very difficult when a child dies, but the way you managed to show hope is wonderful. In one of the schools I work in, a pupil died a month ago. Even if it's hard, I felt my very first job as a teacher was to show my pupils that life was going on for them.

    ReplyDelete
  31. What a powerful post. Parents never seem to lose their grief from the death of a child. From the people I know who have lost children through a variety of ways, it seems there is always a current of sadness just below the surface. Yes, they go with their lives and experience joy, but they always remember their loved one.

    What a wonderful way to repurpose a trellis.

    Judith

    ReplyDelete
  32. Brenda-I love what you've done with a simple trellis, and I love the purpose behind it. I think it's important to reflect on deeper, even heavier, things in blogland every so often. You've created a beautiful tribute -thank you for sharing and reminding us to hold our children close today! Tweeting.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Brenda,
    I have visited your blog today and touched on a few of your posts. You are someone I looks forward to achieving your skill, with my voice on my blog. I love the creative way you look at your home. There is one more thing that you do that I am Thankful for and hope to pass it on as I grow. You give a chance to the new ones of this passion so many of us share. Thank you again for supporting your peers.
    Have a creative day,
    Karen Marie
    Dragonfly & Lily Pads

    ReplyDelete
  34. This is a very touching way to remember and honor all of those children and their stories, Brenda! And it's definitely an important message, even if it can feel "dark" at such a celebratory time of the year. All the more reason for us to gift to charities and organizations that help children and families in dire situations, so that they can enjoy the season in the same way that so many of us do!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Love the little fan decorations! Where did you find them?

    ReplyDelete

I always enjoy reading your comments and having you join the conversation here at Cozy Little House. It is like having a gathering of friends sitting in my cozy apartment. Enjoying coffee and dessert, chatting and having a good time. I appreciate each and every one of you!