Dear Shel Silverstein,
"Give and you will receive." 'Give and you will be rewarded." I often hear these statements at church during sermons about my church's tithing and offering. However, can this philosophy be used outside of church as well? In your book, The Giving Tree, the tree gives the boy his apples, branches, his trunk, his all… In return for the little boy's love.
Back when I was just a shy, innocent child, my grandpa frequently knew how to make me feel better. He would always read me books. There was one in particular that was his favorite, and it was The Giving Tree. While reading it, he would become so happy. At the time, I did not really think much about his reaction to the book. However, seeing him so happy made me smile a thousand smiles.
To him, this was not just an ordinary book. He cherished it, and he kept it nice and clean. He was very careful with the pages as he turned them, and it always sat far away from any other book on the wooden shelf. Even when I dropped it, he seemed to be angry with me. The Giving Tree was his prized possession, and no one could tell him other wise.
As I got older, I really did not pay much attention to my grandpa. I was still young and naive and I thought he would live forever. My grandpa did a great deal for me. He would give me presents and take me out to dinner, and I would not say thank you. Sometimes I would even blow him off. Was I becoming like the ungrateful boy in the story? Was I taking him for granted so much that I didn't even notice? At first, he was a giving shrub, and then a giving bush, now a giving tree. I worried that our ending would not turn out like the one in the book.
But, I was too late. My grandpa died in his sleep of stomach cancer when I about ten years old. My grandpa always said that The Giving Tree book was like being a parent. He always told me that a parent gives everything to their children because they love them. I believe my grandpa did that for me, and I wish that I could tell him how much I love him.
After my grandpa died, I found that I missed him so much. I would look for ways to remind me of him. Then one day, I stumbled upon his favorite book, The Giving Tree. I never noticed that he had hand written notes in it. I could not believe that he had marked on those crisp white pages that he cherished so much. Oh, how I wished that I could take it to my grandpa and have him read it to me. I asked myself: Why couldn't I have him back for just one moment to read it to me, to make me feel better? It became the only wish in my head. I wanted to hear about the boy climbing the tree and carving on its jagged trunk. We had a relationship like the boy and the tree, but we became nothing like it. When the boy needed the tree, the tree was always there. Now, I needed him and he was gone.
Since I have become older, I loved the story and appreciated it more, even if my grandpa was not there to read it to me. I understand now that the book meant far more than I originally believed. Somehow, someway in time, my grandpa and I were connected to the story, almost like a puzzle, and I liked it. I was the boy, he was the tree, and I wish that is how it still could be. "You give me your branches, and I'll love you for eternity." I never got to tell him that, and I wish that I could have said those words, but he was my own personal giving tree, and for that, I am extremely grateful.