Short Story: Unfailing Love

Even before memory could be captured, mother cradled blood-stained Chester onto her bosom mumbling “I love you everyday” to him while being rolled out of the operating room. It did not matter that the young divorcee endured nine months and one final push, for the joy that set in supersedes the pain.

Mother whose once-beautiful hands are now all wrinkled up due to the hours put into hard labor struggled to make ends meet but always strive to give her precious Chester the best – the most meaty part of the chicken for dinner, the filling portion of the mud pie, his favorite storybook even if it meant not getting herself a replacement for her old clothes which were wearing out due to excessive use.

Like all boys, Chester was rowdy, played soccer, skipped classes and fought with other boys. Exchanges were made, blood was spat, principal was informed, phone calls were made. Mother apologized profusely and begged for Chester to not be kicked out of school. Walking home, Chester finally broke his silence and asked, “Mother, do you still love me?” Mother with tears in her eyes picked young Chester up and gave him the tightest bear hug and replied, “I love you everyday.”

Chester grew up in height and weight but that was not to be in stature. Falling into wrong company, Chester learned the ways of the street, got into more fights, arrived home drunk than sober more often than not, peddled drugs, woke up with a different woman by his side each time. His actions broke mother’s heart but her heart cannot deny itself for it speaks only of the language of love for her precious.

Chester was subsequently arrested, scheduled to stand trial. Mother visited, the two seek solace but was separated by a 5 centimeter see-through glass that stretched across the room. The broken Chester asked “Mother do you still love me?” Mother replied, “I love you everyday.”

Chester vowed to turn over a new leaf but change was not easy. Released on parole, Chester took up a decent job but fell back to his old ways not long after. Mother, the only person now to visit Chester continues to make routine visits to the prison Chester was confined in. While making one such visit, mother crossed the road too early and a fatal knock leaves her battling for her life, battling to see her precious for the last time.

Taking hesitant steps forward, the handcuffed Chester approached mother’s side in the hospital. Like birth pangs, that fades away upon the arrival of a baby, mother brightened up when she sees her precious Chester. Inconsolable, sorry Chester asked “Mother, it was me who caused you to be in this state.. Do you still love me after all that I have done?” With one last and final breath she could muster, mother replied, “Don’t be silly, I love you everyday.”

There is a saying “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” As Hill Churchill said, “There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.”

Short Story: The Oak Tree And The Ants

imagePHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay

 

There was a particular oak tree that sat on the hill of a countryside hidden from the reaches of the city. It was an ordinary oak tree yet it was also not just any other oak tree. Sturdy and beautifully mahogany colored bark, strong branch-of-an-arm that stretched out toward the heavens and, luscious healthy green leaves that decorate the branches those branches make this oak tree a beautiful sight to behold.

Playing companion to couples-in-love and kids on their Sunday family days and having acted as the backdrop for more than a dozen wedding photo shoots, the oak tree was in contentment. “With my coat of green, yellow and red I’ve shaded the young and old, the poor and the rich through the seasons unfailing. Through thunderstorms and seasonal winds that threaten to uproot me, I have lasted and stand firm. I’ve indeed lived a full life.. My life is complete..!” thought the good ol’ tree to himself.

Yet for years, the good ol’ tree could not tolerate one – the ants whom have made their home by his roots, climbing up his back (and front) as they have pleased. It was like a thorn in the flesh to the good ol’ tree, an itch he cannot relieve.

One fine day, with one mighty swing of his limps and rustle of his coat he finally broke with silence with authority and gusto, “I want you to depart from me now!” The ants froze in their tracks for a moment before orderly making their way towards the distant horizon. The good ol’ tree was pleased. After all, it went much smoother than expected. For a while, the tree was contented, being left alone felt like a crumb stuck in the teeth for a good period of time finally removed. That feeling was surreal, and the good ol’ tree thought things could only look brighter. Or so he thought.

No sooner than a week after the ants’ departure, the good ol’ tree became sick. Without the care of the ants, disease was spreading across his body like wildfire. The once beautiful mahogany of a bark was coming apart bit by bit, his coat was like the thinning hair of an old man. No longer attractive, the people stopped coming, children stopped playing by his side, the good ol’ tree was dying physically and emotionally, and now truly left.. alone.

It was then that the good ol’ tree realized his folly, issuing the ants the great exodus was his undoing. A threatening rainstorm hit the good ol’ tree hard that night, only this time he didn’t seem to be able to make it through the night. Despondent, the tree howled with the strong winds “Please come back my friends” while the winds slowly ate away at what was left of his previously beautiful coat of old.

The following morning, the good ol’ tree awoken from his slumber, astonished that he made it to the night, astonished that he actually felt a little better. That familiar unquenchable itch has returned, only this time the tree was glad.

There are people that will get on our backs like a thorn in the flesh or a detestable itch. Yet some of them are those who truly cared, some who helped us become who we are and some whom our destinies are intertwined with.