A Tree-bute to Mom

My mom was a warm, wise, and truly special woman.  After I became an arborist she relished watching my career grow for over thirty years.  She observed my passion for trees and how their biology created a different perspective that I often expressed to people through my writing.  This is a metaphor that I know she would have enjoyed.

Helen Sarah Friedman was called little miss sunshine because she brought brightness, hope, and joy to her friends in the orphanage.  As a child, she struggled through challenges like young trees may struggle in tough environments.  But often these trees will flourish with help from people around them and may build a solid foundation just as my mom did.

My mother became an amazing woman.  She helped children and adults: taught and guided them, protected and nurtured them.  Mom helped those who were less fortunate or challenged, like a tree brings comfort and pleasure to people beneath its crown.  She didn’t discriminate and cared for people as a tree will provide benefits to humans and creatures alike.

Committed to family, friends, and her values, my mom was firm and stood her ground even under adverse conditions.  Mom believed in peace as a tree would choose to avoid conflict, if it could.

Helen had a very fulfilling life and worked hard late into her years.  One could often see her in the gym walking on the treadmill or practicing yoga, even into her 90s.  Trees work their entire lives, developing full and productive canopies.  She was enriched with many diversified interests as trees enrich our environment by providing many diversified benefits.

My mother was beautiful. She was a small woman that moved gracefully, but slowly.  She had smooth and supple skin that disguised her many years on earth much like the small statured Crape Myrtle tree with its smooth and light colored bark.

Helen was long-lived and passed away at 92.  Many beautiful trees are long-lived, some up to many thousands of years.  She died with dignity among the family that loved her.  As we often miss the old trees we played in as children and recollect stories and events that happened around them, those that knew mom will miss her, especially me.

Treemendously yours,


Helen Spiewak: November 6, 1920 – April 17, 2013 – In the Arms of the Angels

Mom with our family on her 90th birthday.
Mom with our family on her first cruise and her 90th birthday.  She shared a spacious cruiseship stateroom suite (ha, ha) with Lynda and I.  She was up daily at the crack of dawn for her gym workout.  Since mom never could figure out how to work the assorted light switches and the automatic curtains, we were also up at the crack of dawn.  Never the less, it was a great time and an adventure that we will always remember.


  1. Very nice essay, Bill. I’ll call my dad as soon as I can — he has been a big supporter of my tree career as well. I have to remember that and the fact that at his age of 86, I need to take advantage of the time left to learn and share with him.


    1. David,
      Thanks for your response and call. Funny how when some of us were kids and trying to get out of the house, we never really thought about the future and these challenges with losing parents. I guess we are next so gotta enjoy it while we can.

  2. Bill,
    What a wonderful “Tree-Bute” to your Mom. Brought a few tear
    s to my eyes. Glad to have you guys as friends. Beautiful family as well….great photo. Love, Irma

  3. Hi Bill, Not only did I like your treebute, but I really, really enjoyed your article in the recent TCIA Magazine. I’m proud to rub elbows with such a mensch——


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