The Story Behind the Oak Tree
Invariably I am asked: What is the story with the oak tree?
The oak tree has been an important symbol in my family for many generations. We use the symbol to represent my farm and it was only logical that we use it in our elder law and life care planning process as it represents age, strength, longevity and endurance.
The importance of the oak tree was instilled in me as a child by my grandmother.
As a young boy growing up in the rural South, I spent the majority of my summers exploring the hills and streams of my grandparents’ farm in the foothills of northern Alabama. Although my grandparents were poor by anyone’s standards, they enriched my life with many unique experiences, lessons, and backwoods folklore. They instilled within me an undying belief in God, coupled with an immense love and respect for the land and countryside. They taught me that the land we are allowed to live on and care for in this life is like our mother–she gives us life and provides us with all the basic necessities, and in exchange, we owe to the land our perpetual care and devotion.
In a small patch of grass shadowed by my grandparents’ modest sharecropper’s house, my grandmother planted and cared for a small oak tree where she had used a worn out tractor tire as a planter. Although my grandmother had many beautiful flowers and shrubs nestled among the endless rows of towering corn stalks and soft white cotton bolls, she gave considerable care to the little oak tree, which she loved, nourished and cherished. When I was very young she told me of an old southern wives’ tale about the importance and symbolism of the front yard oak tree for the southern farmer. It provided shade from the harsh Alabama sun in the summer, protection from the blowing wind and rain in the winter, and a central gathering place for Sunday company and rowdy children. But more importantly, the oak tree was a symbol of strength and longevity, and represented the productiveness of the nearby land.
According to southern folklore as expressed by my grandmother, as long as the oak tree lived and flourished, so would the crops in the nearby fields, and the land would spring forth spontaneously with a hardy bounty year after year. As I grew to maturity, so did the little oak tree which was nourished and cared for under my grandmother’s watchful eye. She called the tree her Cherishing Oak.
When I graduated from law school and bought my farm in Brooks County, Georgia, I named it “CheraOak Plantation, after my grandmother’s cherishing oak tree and in dedication and recognition of her never-ending belief in God, adherence to the belief that hard work could overcome all obstacles, and her enduring love for the land.
When I established my Elder Law Firm, it was only natural to use the oak tree as my logo, in further recognition of my grandparents, their dedication and the wisdom they passed on to their posterity.