Roy Nelson didn’t do anything in a small way. When he brought pecans to share, he brought a grocery sack full of them. He bought ice cream by the gallon, never the half gallon. And when he played bridge at the Methodist church, he played by the rules until they prevented him from bidding as high as he wanted to.
He loved to give things to people. He called me one morning to ask if I wanted a baby squirrel that he’d found. I did not. When he found out I liked figs, he brought me a bucket full every week during their season. Four years ago he brought me a seedling so I could plant my own fig tree - - - which I did. Too close to the house. Knowing Roy, I should have expected something way too big and unruly, but well, live and learn. The tree has completely blocked the view from my kitchen window and is taking over my deck. After the birds and squirrels get their snacks, there are still figs to pick twice a day.
The gospels of Matthew and Mark record an odd incident of Jesus cursing a fig tree. It seems that Jesus was hungry and saw a fig tree, but when he went to pick some fruit, the tree had only leaves, no figs. Jesus cursed the tree and it immediately withered away. The disciples are said to have “marveled” at this spectacle. I guess so. It makes me wonder how often I have professed a pious front, and practiced a fruitless faith.
When I went to Roy’s funeral, printed in the program was a prayer that he had written out and placed in his Bible. It reads: “God, whether I get anything else done today, I want to make sure that I spend time loving you and loving other people — because that’s what life is all about. I don’t want to waste this day.” When I got home, I cut the prayer out and put it in my own Bible. I think Roy would be amused by my gigantesque fig tree and that makes me happy. It’s a frequent reminder of one whose kindness was bigger than life.