My wife’s mother is sick with Cancer–the big C. She lives down the street—not in the same house with us—thank God—but down the street. The chemo has nearly burned her up–not fast enough for me. She uses her sickness as a crutch, and my wife puts her before me. Every morning she brings her mother a bowl of figs from our tree. I’m her husband. I deserve the first fruits from that tree, but she doesn’t care how much I complain. She brings her mother figs anyway. I’m invisible when it comes to her mother. She’ll perish. I’ll be her darkest nightmare when she comes home. I’ll give her no peace. She wants to choose her mother over me.
I am so angry I’m about to explode. I step in the backyard and glare at the fig tree. The tree said:
“You stupid#$^$$%$$%$%$$%$%$$*&#$#$$#…. an old stupid man too. You have had three triple by-pass heart surgeries. Get a hold to yourself. You stupid #$$$%%$^^&^**^&#$#%^&*(&&&^^%))(*&^##!%^^&&&****&^)(**&^^&&%%%%%%####################%^&*&^%#)! As for the figs produced from this tree, your mother-in-law does not get the first fruits. The birds do. Look around you.”
I see figs have fallen from the tree. “And they will rot…” The tree continues yelling at me.
When it finished, I knew I was below stupid.
I wasn’t deserving to eat of its fruit. It dared me to place a fig on my tongue. Talk about somebody being extinguished. The next morning I handed my wife a bowl of figs.
“From this day forward I. myself, am going with you to visit your beautiful mother. You are a good wife and a grateful and dutiful daughter. You don’t have to pick figs anymore. I must do it for you. Look!” I said, with gladness of heart, pointing to the freshly picked figs, “I picked enough today. Each day we will place them in a beautiful bowl, of your choice, of course, and bring them to your mother. I also picked these flowers and placed them in this vase. This one is your mother’s favorite. I understand that she loves flowers and flowers she will receive everyday. I know this because you are a flower.”
Why couldn’t I see my wife loved me? I’ve had three major heart surgeries, and I’m a diabetic. My wife runs the family business. Why are men jealous of their wives? I did this to myself. Jealousy tainted the blood that runs through my veins. My bones are dry. I nearly died. What! I did all of this to myself, and yet, my wife stood by me. Stupid men are jealous of their wives. I’m a changed man.
I supported my wife in all of her efforts. It’s been a few years since her mother died. I stood by her side with great pride. A man I become a little late in life, but I stood by her side. Together, we cried.
I am so happy that tree had a talk with me. Instead of being jealous, I should have seen my wife’s beautiful heart. That tree brought this to my attention. I did not appreciate the sound of its voice, but it told me in a tone that I could hear. Around here yelling and screaming at my wife. I was a poor excuse for a man. Because of that tree I bare no shame today. My wife really loves me, and, I, her. Her voice is music to my ears.
“Yes Dearest. You are correct. I am calm. You say you noticed it the day I picked figs for your mother. Why won’t I let you touch that prolific fig tree? I will pick your figs as long as I live. Yes, I love figs. Why don’t I eat them?”
What should I say? Seemingly without control, I said, “Go ask the fig tree,“ and smile sheepishly.
Vivian Dixon Sober
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