A Remembrance

By Lee Lattimer

Many years ago, an oak seed fell to the ground, sprout­ed, took root, and grew. As it grew, it learned to love the things that nur­tured it: sun, water, air, and soil. It used those bless­ings to sus­tain oth­ers and to feed and shel­ter the birds and ani­mals with­in its branch­es. Its shade gave respite from the harsh sun. It even­tu­al­ly matured into a tall, impos­ing tree, loved by many. But in nature, time deliv­ers hard­ships. Suf­fer­ing from the dev­as­tat­ing effects of an ice storm and hur­ri­cane, the more than 400-year-old tree died in 2016

Not so many years ago, a boy came into the world. As he grew, he learned to love the things that nur­tured him – par­ents, friends, art, and nature. He used those bless­ings to sus­tain oth­ers, to nour­ish his team­mates and fam­i­ly. His kind­ness gave respite to those who suf­fered the vicious­ness of bul­lies. He matured into an impos­ing young man, loved by many. But not unlike the Great Oak, he faced insur­mount­able hard­ships. The 20-year-old man died in 2011 from the dev­as­tat­ing effects of hyper­tro­phy car­diomy­opa­thy, a pro­gres­sive heart disease.

Great Oak and Memorial oak sapling
Great Oak and Memo­r­i­al oak sapling 

The tree was the Great Oak, a beloved fea­ture of the George Lan­dis Arboretum. 

The man was Jere­my G. LaJe­unesse, a beloved res­i­dent of Esper­ance. Jere­my had a spe­cial fond­ness for the Arbore­tum, shar­ing a deep con­nec­tion with the Great Oak. In a trib­ute to both man and tree, Jeremy’s par­ents, George and Cath­leen, pur­chased an oak sapling through the Lan­dis Memo­r­i­al Tree Pro­gram. At a ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mo­ny ear­li­er this year, it was plant­ed next to the rem­nant trunk of the Great Oak. While we mourn the loss and cher­ish the mem­o­ries, we also are heart­ened that as the young tree grows, it too will pro­vide the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al bless­ings left behind by the two it honors. 

Jeremy LaJeunesse
Jere­my LaJeunesse

Hyper­tro­phy Car­diomy­opa­thy (HCM) is a com­mon cause of sud­den car­diac arrest in young peo­ple. Learn more about it here.


Fall 2016

Volume 34 , Number 4

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