Swartz Creek woman plans donation of memorial tree

SWARTZ CREEK — A mother’s love never dies; it just continues to grow. And for that reason, Lisa Harms Lewis wants to do something special to celebrate the life of her son, Brandon, whom she lost to addiction last April.

Lewis wants to plant a memorial tree, an evergreen to symbolize everlasting love, on city property, and invite the community to remember all lost loved ones by placing ribbons or ornaments on the tree.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board have granted their approval for the tree.

“When you lose a child, you’re always thinking of what you can do to honor them and keep their memory alive,” said Lewis. “You don’t sleep well, because your mind is always racing.”

It was in one of those restless moments that the idea arose.

“Unfortunately, I keep seeing people around our area losing loved ones to addiction, among other things, children who are gone too soon,” Lewis said. “I thought it would be nice to give back to the community, something for everyone to enjoy and to share their memories.”

As the spring planting season nears, Lewis will search for just the right tree. She is hoping to find a white pine, which is not only one of her favorite varieties, but also the official state tree. Lewis will purchase the tree and donate it to the city.

She would like to see it planted at Elms Park, which she passes every day, and where she often sees families enjoying their time together. However, she would not be opposed to having it at Abrams Park, as some park board members have suggested.

City officials have long considered removing the messy cottonwood trees and initiating a reforestation program at Abrams Park. And they say the memorial pine would be a good way to start.

Lewis, who lives in Winchester Village, said her son grew up playing at Abrams Park, so that location would hold some sentimental value. However, she said, Elms Park has a more regional appeal and people from outside the community would be more likely to see the tree there.

“They may be curious about it,” she said. “It may touch their hearts.”

Lewis also hopes to include a plaque to explain the purpose of the tree. And, she hopes people will find it to be a comforting place to gather for candlelight vigils in memory of the loved ones they have lost.

Park board member Jim Barclay said he thinks the idea sounds nice.

“We would support your efforts in any way we could,” he said.