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Down in the Well
When I was a young boy, I asked my grandfather how he proposed to his wife. He said that he showed my grandmother a magical moment.
When my grandmother was a young woman, she came over to watch my grandfather and his friends dig a new well. He asked her if she’d ever been down in the bottom of a well and she said no, she never had. He told her that if she wanted to go down with him he would show her something truly magical in the afternoon sky.
She agreed and his friends lowered him to the bottom, then helped her down as well. My grandfather told her not to look up until she reached the very bottom. It was dark that far down in the well as the sun was no longer directly overhead.
As my grandfather reached over to help her, he told her to look up. My grandmother looked up at the sky…and saw only the stars. It was like night with the stars shining brightly in the middle of the afternoon.
What We Do For Love
One day I asked my grandfather what you do, when you love someone. He told me you listen to them. You listen with your ears and your heart.
When he and my grandmother had been married almost a year, she went to stay with her sister, who was expecting. My grandfather wanted to give her something special for their anniversary, but it was still months until harvest. And they didn’t have any money for fancy gifts.
So, he thought about it for a few days, then remembered how my grandmother had remarked on the lovely fragrance of the sweet locust blooms. She had said they looked almost like white lilac blossoms. And how their sweet smell brightened up her entire afternoon.
Suddenly, my grandfather knew just what he would do. Old Tom, as they called him, had been talking about how his barn needed some work. And his bottom land had a creek just full of sweet locusts. It ended up costing my grandfather two weekends of work, but Old Tom told him to take as many of those “darn thorny trees” as he wanted.
My grandparents couldn’t afford to lose any farmland, but there was a drainage ditch that ran along one side of the property. He knew the trees would do nicely there and provide a wind break as well.
When my grandmother came home, he told her he had something special for her to mark their first year as man and wife. He asked her to close her eyes and hold out her hand. They walked out to the edge of the field…and he slowly turned her around to see the trees.
They were still fairly small, but no matter. She knew exactly what they were! She walked over to them and gently touched the leaves with one hand. Then she ran back and kissed him, thanking him for such a beautiful present. He told her this was their first anniversary and as those trees grew, their love would grow with them. And every spring, they walked along the edge of the locusts, holding hands and loving each other.
The Little Things We Do Each Day
My grandfather said my grandmother did little things for him every day, which made his life easier. A smile, a touch, a kind word. He told me that when you find the person you hope to marry, it will be a precious gift. And if you’re lucky, she will also be your best friend.
When they were first married, my grandparents went down to the shady creek near their farm, trying to find a little coolness in the summer heat. It was a Sunday after church, so it seemed like a good idea to take a lunch basket down to the creek and spend the afternoon.
My grandfather decided my grandmother would like some of the wild flowers growing in a shady area near the water’s edge. She was laying out lunch and the romantic in him could not resist the idea.
As he bent down to pick the flowers, he slipped and his hands and lower arms landed right in a poison ivy patch. He was normally more careful, but this time he hadn’t seen it. My grandmother came over and reached out to the plant a few feet over and gently tore some of the leaves from the Jewel Weed. Also known as wild impatiens, the leaves can be crushed and the sap is a natural antidote to poison ivy.
She spread it over his hands and arms, below his rolled-up sleeves. Then, she kissed him softly on the lips, smiled and took the flowers back to their blanket and food. When he sat down next to her, my grandmother told him that there is no challenge we will face, which the natural world will not provide a help for us.
I have always believed they were that help for each other….
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