If you have ever read the books by Shel Silverstein, you may have read “The Giving Tree.” This book came to mind today after my grief therapy session at Corner Stone of Hope. I need to give another big shout out to Laura and of course Mark Tripodi and his staff and all the volunteers at this beautiful center. As soon as I walk in the door, I feel comfort. And yet today walking up to the door I had a mixed bag of emotions.
Let me begin.
Sunday marked the two-month anniversary of my mother’s passing. Yesterday marked the first Tuesday I did not recall the day of her death; she died on a Tuesday. This morning as I was applying my make-up getting ready for therapy I thought I had forgotten about her and felt sad and disrespectful!
Laura, my therapist, reassured me that what I was experiencing and feeling was quite reasonable. I was processing. She said there would be days I would remember and days I would just put it away, and that does not mean I have forgotten, but it is not something I need to think about every day and every moment, that will not bring my mother back nor prove my love any deeper. What she did suggest to help me remember and to enjoy my memories was to keep writing about the experiences that were special, so I will have a journal of those good times.
After my session, this morning I started thinking of the book “The Giving Tree, ” and although I know my mother never read this to me, it makes me think of her.
Once there was a tree…. and she loved a little boy.
And everyday, the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree…. very much.
And the tree was happy.
My mother loved me, and she spent time with me. She kept me safe and warm. Just as most mothers do she was happy when she knew, I was happy too.
But time went by. And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.”
“I am too big to climb and play” said the boy.
“I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money?”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples.
Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.”
Just as the boy got older, I too grew older and moved away and came home to visit and left again. My mother understood, although each time, I know it took a toll on her. It was her dream for me to leave close by.
And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away.
And the tree was happy. But the boy stayed away for a long time…. and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.”
“I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm,” he said. “I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?”
” I have no house,” said the tree. “The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy.”
And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. -And the tree was happy. But the boy stayed away for a long time.
I continued to live my life away from home and came back to visit when the time was right. I missed my mom and called in-between, but I was doing what I had to do that was good for me.
And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. “Come, Boy,” she whispered, “come and play.”
“I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy. “I want a boat that will take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?”
“Cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. “Then you can sail away… and be happy.”
And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy … but not really.
I did not understand!
And after a long time, the boy came back again.
“I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree,” but I have nothing left to give you – My apples are gone.”
“My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy.
“My branches are gone,” said the tree. ” You cannot swing on them – ”
“I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy.
“My trunk is gone, ” said the tree. “You cannot climb – ”
“I am too tired to climb” said the boy. “I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something…. but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry….”
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy. “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy
A mother always has the strength to lover her child!
My mom and I bonded in 2 ½ months. Even on the days that she forgot my name, remembered that I was there, or could barely speak, we talked. On the days, she forgot my name; I reminded her. And when she said who would name their baby Karen, I responded you did, and she laughed.
When she forgot, I was there and would ask, “when did you get here, it’s so good to see you.” I would remind her I had been there for days and she would smile and laugh and thank me for being with her.
When she lost her strength to speak I tried so hard to understand her, and I apologized for not being able to, but I hugged her, and kissed her and told her how sorry I was.
When mom took her last breath, I was there, and I stayed with her until Ira Kaufman, the family Mortuary arrived to take her away. I watched the process because she was and is my mother who is still with me. I may not think of her every day, but I will remember her and share her smile and her loving personality with those who care to hear about DVasha. This world will never be the same without her.
I had the opportunity to sit at her side, at her feet, to be held and to hold her, and I will cherish those moments forever. My mom was a giving tree, and I hope I am one too.