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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