A man discovers an old videotape while digging in his mother–in–law’s flower garden. The tape took him and his wife on a journey that helped them learn more about the woman.
Tom was fuming. He had been working non-stop on his mother-in-law, Rose’s garden for hours. She had roped him into building a small partition to plant her precious posies when he and his wife Eve visited.
If he had a choice, Tom would have avoided meeting Rose. He did not think she liked him very much even though he had no idea what he could have done to attract ire from her.
Whatever it was, Rose had decided the most suitable punishment would be putting him to work every time she set eyes on him. Hence, Tom had decided to avoid her as much as he could.
Only his wife could veto the decision, and she often did when she needed to see her mom, who lived in the next town, a mere 30 minutes away from their own home.
He was digging up a hole to plant poles into the ground for the partition when his tool hit something that gave a solid thump. Curious, Tom expanded the hole with his hands and was rewarded with an old box that contained a videotape.
Tom kept news of his discovery from Rose and his wife. He could not risk her asking her mom about it, and something told him they needed to at least know what the tape contained before Rose learned about it.
Convinced it was the best thing to do, Tom took the tape home with him when he and his wife left Rose’s house. On the way, he stopped by his friend Jim’s place. Jim was a former TV journalist who had retired to run an electronics store, so Tom knew he would have something to help him view the videotape.
From Jim, Tom borrowed an old VCR he was assured could be used to play the videotape he found. When they arrived home, he narrated what happened to his wife.
“Why would you keep it a secret Tom? If you found it at her house then it’s hers,” Eve said.
“Or it could have belonged to a family that lived in that house before Rose,” Tom argued. “Look, let’s just watch it and see what it contains.”
Eve reluctantly agreed but made Tom promise they would tell Rose about it after. “Promise,” Tom said, a glint in his eyes.
He quickly set the VCR up and inserted the tape. A young girl appeared on the screen; she stood near an ocean laughing without abandon as a young man put a wreath of flowers on her.
The tape showed that they were in Hawaii, and Eve immediately recognized the young woman as her mother. When the video finished playing, Tom faced his wife, his face full of questions.
“I have never seen your mother laugh like she did in that video Eve,” he said. “Why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know Tom, I’m as shocked as you are.”
“Wanna find out?” Tom asked with that glint in his eye again.
“Of course!” Eve exclaimed. “I’d like to see her laugh like that again, even if it’s just once.”
The following day, they invited Rose over to their place and played her the video. When the older woman saw it, she burst into tears and revealed why she stopped laughing.
It turns out, she had been in love with a man named Pete, who gave his life to save hers. “How did that happen?” Tom asked her.
“Well, it is a long story but I’ll shorten it as we don’t have a lifetime,” she replied.
“Pete was the love of my life. A brave dashing man with a heart so big it scared me sometimes. We met in college and were friends for years before we took the next step in our relationship.
“When we got married we moved to our house, where I still live. Back then the streets were not as safe as they are now and I was working night shifts as a nurse. Pete did not like it because he thought I was overworking myself but he supported me in any way he could. He would often pick me up in our car every night, but one day the car broke down so we had to take a bus.
“When we alighted at the bus stop, we noticed a bunch of drunk men picking on a woman. Pete asked them to let her go and they did, only to face us. One of them tried to grope me and Pete reacted violently.
“In the scuffle, he was stabbed by one of the men and he died on the scene before I could even say goodbye, before I could tell him that I was pregnant with his child.
“The videotape is the only thing I have left of him because I lost the baby two months later to a miscarriage caused by stress and grief.”
Rose married Eve’s father several years later, but she revealed that she only did it because she felt she had to. Her husband’s name was Evan, and he was a jealous man who was aware of her past.
He felt he would never measure up to the late Pete and always gave Rose a tough time because of it. He eventually burned everything that would remind her of Pete, but she managed to save the tape by burying it away.
All of that did not change the fact that Rose loved Pete even in death. Her feelings for Evan were basic at best, and it did not make her as happy as she used to be with her first husband.
“He was my all, my everything, and it was very hard for me to go on living without him. You ask me why I lost my laugh? It’s because the only person who ever made me laugh was killed right before my very eyes.”
Tom was overwhelmed by the story of his mother-in-law. He immediately demanded that she move in with them to forget about what happened in her house, but she refused.
“I couldn’t intrude on your privacy like that and that house was where Pete and I lived for years before his demise, I can’t part with it,” Rose said.
So Tom decided to buy her an apartment right next to theirs so that Rose could have a safe place to escape to in times when she needed to get away from her old house.
It softened Rose’s heart towards him so that she no longer ordered him around but instead pampered him while calling him “My precious Tommy.”
What did we learn from this story?
Jealousy is a dangerous emotion. Evan was jealous of his wife’s burning love for her late husband, and it made him burn all the memories she had of him. It made Rose sad, and in the end, it did not make her love her dead hubby any less. There are better ways through which Evan could have helped his wife get over her dead husband, but none were accessible to him as soon as he tapped into his jealousy.
Life goes on no matter what. Rose lost the love of her life and, by extension, her reason to laugh. It was hard for her to move on, and that affected her relationship with Evan, who wanted a hundred percent devotion from his wife but was finding it hard to compete with a dead man. Rose would have been better letting Pete go to focus on her present, which was Evan.