Healthy mango tree, circa summer 2010.

Three years ago, when my parents were still living in St. Louis and not The Hague, my dad ate a grocery store mango and planted the seed in the ground to see what would happen. Being the excellent stewards of life he is, of course my Dad’s seed sprouted a tiny tree.

In 2009, after my dad retired and moved across the Atlantic with Mom, he forced this tree upon Matty and me. We drove it in the backseat of Matty’s car, from St. Louis to Austin. Dad kept telling us to plant it in the backyard, but I’d grown so attached to Mango Tree and his story that I didn’t want to plant him for fear we’d have to leave Austin someday.

Matty has cared for and talked to Mango Tree nearly every day for the past two years, as it’s sprouted more branches and inched taller and taller. If the temperature ever dropped below unbearably hot, Matty brought him inside. Then, when we made the difficult decision to move to Washington, Mango Tree rode in a backseat again, all the way from the 512 to the 202.

Dad came to visit last month. He was stunned and amused to see mango tree had grown to be a good three feet tall, especially since he actually remembers it as a seed.

Sick mango tree, tonight.

The mango tree that could — a sapling that came to symbolize a fruitful life for Matty and me and whose health gave us some confidence that we could successfully care for a living thing — is now quite ill.

His leaves have turned yellow and spotty, his branches are turning a powdery white. We think it’s a fungal disease. Dad said we needed to get him to a nursery to diagnose the issue. Matty, who’s out of town tonight, wants me to find some sort of spray to fight the illness yesterday. If you have suggestions for what else we oughta do, let me know.

I know it’s sort of ridiculous to feel so frantic about a plant. But as it is with pets, Mango Tree’s part of our family now. If there were an overpriced emergency nursery as there are emergency animal clinics, I’d be rushing the little guy there right now.

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