The Hannah Tree

I have only mentioned it on the periphery in my blog, but I think most of you know that our 27 year-old daughter, Hannah died December 3, 2015. We miss her very much and are reminded daily how much she meant to so many people. Soon after learning of her death, people who loved her and us, began to ask what they could do. Cards and emails flowed in and we were overwhelmed by people wanting to send flowers and/or food. We asked mostly for peace and prayers, since we knew that flowers would die and food would go uneaten. Some people were imaginative in their offerings of Hannah memorials. More on these later, but one gift in particular will be the focus of today’s post.


My cousin Merrilu (the subject of a recent post) lives in Ohio and was devastated to learn the news about Hannah. Merrilu has watched our daughter grow up, and if this isn’t too much information…she actually knew I was pregnant before I did. I’ll leave this story to your imagination. 🙂 Merrilu & Hannah played together like little kids and in fact, once a very young Hannah asked me in a sincere voice, “Mommy, is Merrilu a grown-up?” I was confused by the question and asked her what she meant by that. “Well,” she said, “She has keys, and a purse…but she isn’t married and she doesn’t have a baby.” Jim and I often marveled at the goings-on inside our little girl’s brain. As of this writing, Merrilu IS married, and she DOES have a little boy, but the jury is still out on whether she’s a grown-up. 🙂

Merrilu, wanted to send a tree, so she just Googled something about trees & Montgomery, Alabama and she found a phone number for someone named Brent Salter at a construction company called “Build South”. Turns out this guy was not in the tree planting business, but he did have a suggestion on where she could find a nice selection of trees, AND he had a landscape team that worked for his company that would be happy to pick up the tree and plant it for me at no charge.

You see, Merrilu had quite by accident, (there are no accidents) gotten in touch with a neighbor and friend of mine who had not heard our sad news. I’ve known Brent for many years and his house is actually just a few blocks from mine. Does anyone but me think that perhaps it’s just a bit miraculous, that from a random search on the internet, by my cousin who lives in Ohio, she just happened to talk to someone who could not only help her buy a lovely tree, but arrange for it to be planted in my yard? Believe me, this miracle is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wonders that have happened to us these past months.

So the excellent landscape company B-Tops drove up one day with a beautiful little Weeping Redbud and placed it in the back yard of my Pink House.


My mom is in the background doing crosswords. Thanks for the help Peg, Peg! 🙂

When they finished I was happy to have a living memorial to Hannah that we could watch grow into a sad and beautiful tree.



A few days after it was planted, the tree began to sprout tiny pink buds.



This was a thoughtful and meaningful gift from my cousin and friend. It is also most appropriate since Hannah loved nature and all things in it.


Four year old Hannah inspecting a locust invasion.

Hannah was employed by Harwell’s Green Thumb Nursery here in Montgomery and she was learning about trees and flowers and dirt and sod on a daily basis. The Harwell’s were more like family to Hannah than employers and they were sweet and patient with her while she learned her job. They too have showered many kindnesses on Jim and me during these terrible days and we are at a loss to show our gratitude to them and so many people who have helped us endure this. Thank you for the Weeping Redbud, Merrilu. I’ll think of you and Hannah when I look at it and we are grateful for such a thoughtful memorial. I know that the trees, flowers and animals in Heaven are more beautiful than we can ever imagine and that our sweet girl is tending them with love and care. God Bless You Hannah B. Mommy & Daddy miss you so much.


15 thoughts on “The Hannah Tree

  1. So touching….this pierced my heart and I am weeping myself now, literally. One of the Harwell son’s we knew from our our church. He is on the mission field now. No, there are no accidents, Deb. Take comfort in knowing that God has Hannah, and He is our only Hope. We need no other. You are loved, my friend.

    • Thank you Debbie. This one was very hard to write, but I’m glad I did it. I too am crying (all day today actually) but it feels good to remember her and be sad. Yes, the Harwell’s are an amazing family. Hannah loved them and was so grateful to them for their support and kindness.

  2. I have no words…I loved her, and I love the two of you. God truly and absolutely works in mysterious ways. You write so incredibly beautifully…thank you.

    • I love you too Merrilu. I have had a very sad day. Some are better than others. Writing this helped me to get a lot of my feelings out. The tree is healthy and happy. Come visit it anytime.

  3. Debbie, that is heatbreakingly beautiful. We mourned for lovely Hannah with you and the many who love you. I never met her, but I may well have encountered her on one of my many Green Thumb forays. She had to be wonderful with you as a mom. ❤

  4. I, too, love the Harwells. Poor Charles has spent a lot more time in my yard than he probably wanted. He is a keeper.

  5. A touching story about a beautiful girl, written by an amazing woman. You and Merrilu are truly sisters at heart. I will be thinking of you and I wish you and Jim well.

    • Oh Bobby it is so great to hear from you. Thank you for reading my post and I wish you and your family well too. We live closer now. Let’s have a reunion. Love you, Deb

  6. Deb, that was so beautifully written and I would have to say that Brent showing up on your Merrilu ‘s search sounds like a little God kiss to me. I can’t wait to come by and see you and your Hannah tree. Love you guys

    • Thank you Cindy and yes, there are “signs and wonders” all around us. Please come see the Hannah Tree and the Pink House. I’ve been wanting to show it to you for a long while.

  7. How beautiful both in word and in deed! Hannah was also a beautiful young woman. God does work all things for the good of those who love Him and He surely had to have orchestrated this course of events to give you an extra measure of comfort. Praying for you often.

  8. Literally crying. Like all thing miraculous there are no words to describe the beauty of this. Love is all there is.

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