The Prosperity Tree
For one of Susan’s birthdays, she received an unusual gift. It was a small copper tree with miniature gold bells on its branches and accented with small blue silk flowers. It was called a Prosperity Tree. According to its legend, by shaking the tree, which brought about a melodic and calming sound from the ringing of the bells, meant that good fortune would come your way.
Susan knew that this tree was more than just an attractive and decorative piece that would have a place of honor in her home. She felt that this tree, which was meant to bring good fortune, could also give hope and help to people who were having serious health challenges. She firmly believed that by shaking the tree, listening to the ringing of the bells, and asking for help from above, all would help to bring back good health to many lives.
By word of mouth, Susan’s tree became known as the get-well tree. She was inundated with calls and requests to shake the tree for those who were hoping to recover from their illnesses. With every story she was told, she would ask the caller for the person’s first name and the illness. While gently shaking her tree and in a prayer-like fashion, she would say the name, the health issue, and ask for wellness to be restored. Often, she would hear about someone that she had shaken the tree for was on the road to recovery. Hearing positive news only confirmed her strong belief that her tree played a significant role in helping people overcome their serious health problems.
It has been over thirty years since Susan was gifted with the Prosperity Tree, and during this time, she has been faithfully shaking her tree when called upon. The requests have been numerous and never-ending. Many of the stories from her callers were a desperate plea for help and heart-rendering.
There were also requests from callers that were unrelated to health issues which she would politely refuse. With Susan’s tireless efforts along with the medical community, together, they worked side by side to help bring back good health to many.
The following are just a sampling of the countless requests that Susan received over the years:
A mother called Susan to ask her to shake the tree for her son who was going to take his final chemistry exam. She explained that he was a good student but she thought by shaking the tree, it would help him to get a higher grade and be accepted into an Ivy League college. Susan’s reply to the mother was that the reasoning behind the shaking of the tree was to help people recover from serious health problems. She informed the mother that she should be thankful her son did not have any health issues and denied her request.
A friend of Susan’s, a non-believer of the successes of shaking the tree, was scheduled for her fifth-year check-up from her recovery from breast cancer. She called Susan the night before her appointment and anxiously asked her to shake the tree. Susan, knowing that she did not believe in the tree, still agreed to do her ritual for her. The following day Susan’s friend called to let her know that she remained cancer-free. She was overjoyed with her good news, thanked Susan for shaking the tree, and apologized for her disbelief.
This request was the most unusual one that was asked of Susan. She received a call from a young woman asking her to shake the tree so that her husband would come back to her. He had left her for another woman and she was devastated. Susan calmly explained the reason why she shook the tree. It was to help in the recovery from serious health issues, not marital problems. Susan refused her request and suggested that she seek help from a marriage counselor.
Susan’s friend Phyllis called her weekly to ask her to please shake her tree for people she knew or heard about who were having health challenges. Phyllis took her job very seriously and in doing so, she earned the official title of the get-well ambassador in her neighborhood. It was ironic that Phyllis took it upon herself to help so many others with serious health problems, never knowing that one day she would need Susan to shake the tree for herself. Susan noticed a light blinking on her telephone. As she listened to the message, she heard the voice of a man sobbing making it difficult to understand what he was saying. He finally gathered enough composure to tell her that he was Phyllis’ husband, Jim, calling. His message was that Phyllis was very ill and was having major surgery the next morning. Phyllis had told Jim to call Susan and ask her to shake the tree for her. Before Susan returned Jim’s call to get the details of Phyllis’ condition, she had shaken the tree. Phyllis’ surgery did not go as well as expected and more complications set in. Between a month’s stay in the hospital and a month in rehab, Phyllis was finally able to return home. Susan shook her tree twice a day until Phyllis recovered. Thankfully, Phyllis made a full recovery and continues to be the get-well ambassador in her neighborhood.
How often it has been said, “It Takes A Village.” When serious health issues occur, it takes a village consisting of the medical community, the man above, hope, faith, and if you can find Susan, ask her to shake her tree.
Rita Nathan Wolfson is a 93-year-old author, poet, and artist. For more than twenty years she created artwork and jewelry utilizing recycled paper, the profits of which were donated to charitable causes. Rita self-published a book that combined her artwork and creative writing: One Liner on Two Lines and most recently, during the pandemic, she has been sharing her poetry on YouTube as the Positive Poet.
Rita began her creative journey later in life, after raising her family. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston at the age of 65, where she discovered her passion for learning. Upon graduation, she became a founding member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute - taking countless classes and leading poetry seminars. She is tireless in her interests and has recently expanded her writing into the short story genre.