Last night, I read The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. I must be the last person on planet earth to read this book. It's been out, like, forever. The story affected me deeply.
Once upon a time there was a tree who loved a little boy. And the boy spent a lot of time with the tree — gathering her leaves, swinging from her branches, climbing her trunk, resting in her shade. The boy loved the tree and this made the tree happy. But soon, the boy grew up and went away. And the tree was all alone.
Years later, the boy came back, but only to complain. He was unhappy. In an attempt to make the the boy happy again, the tree offered her fruit, so the boy could sell it for money. He picked her fruit and left, only to return years later. He was still unhappy. So the tree offered her branches so the boy could build a house. The boy cut off her branches and left again. When he returned years later, he was still unsatisfied, so the tree offered her trunk. And the boy cut the tree down, leaving only a stump.
And the tree was happy . . . "but not really."
In the end, the boy came back once again, old with a bent back, and still unsatisfied. But the tree, nothing more than a knee-high stump, had nothing else to offer. So she offered what she had: A place for the boy to sit and rest his tired body.
The boy sat down on what was left of the tree, and the tree was very happy. However, the boy still looked very unhappy.
Such a sad ending. I was bummed. Caused me to reflect on my own life. My mom is a giving tree, too. She gives and gives, happily, never looking for a return. And seldom receives any. Like the tree, my mom gives until she has nothing else to offer. And then she gives anyway.
My brothers and I have, at times, treated our mom like the boy in the story treated the tree. But were mature now and give back. At least we try. But I'll have to try even harder.