The Giving Tree

Blogs-contributors, Dan Waeger — By on February 26, 2009 at 11:34 am

I told Dan recently that I feel like he is living the “The Giving Tree”. You remember the Shel Silverstein story where a tree and a boy become best friends, and the tree happily obliges the boy’s requests. He gives the boy shade, apples to eat & his branches to a build a house. The boy gets older, and just keeps taking until he finally leaves the tree a stump after he cuts it down to make a boat. In the end, even after the boy had long sailed away, the tree provides him (now an old man) a place to rest.

There are two ways to look at the story- from the tree who’s first inclination is to give of itself or the boy who’s only inclination is to take. Relax- I am not trying to draw a comparison between the boy & cancer hacking away at Dan… so please don’t be alarmed. I identify with the story as it relates to a person’s (in this case- a tree’s) demeanor & will to keep giving & living selflessly, no matter what is taken from them. Where some would see the tree becoming smaller & smaller at the hands of the selfish boy, I always took more from the story’s other message. To me, I always remember that even though the tree may have sacrificed some parts of itself, it could still find something to give, and still kept living.

Like the tree, Dan has sacrificed some good physical parts of himself over the past few months. I have been amazed to witness how much the human body can take, and just marvel at what he can continue to do mentally. Take Dan last week- what would you do if your stomach literally filled up with fluid, smushing your insides and make it hard to eat or even sit comfortably? If all that he had been through wasn’t enough, I really feared that this new hurdle would be his undoing. Most people would just shut it down. But Dan insists on getting a tube put in him so that he can feel better to get back to work. Granted, sometimes his ambition is slowed by the reality of the situation. But the will to live the same way he always has, with the same attitude… is part of his DNA. Just like that tree was “rooted” in giving and living no matter what was the boy took from it. Dan is just like that darn tree! You can strip everything else away, but what remains is still the best part. I mean, would you still insist on doing the dishes even though you have the best excuse to get out of it?

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