A young couple discover the real gift in their marriage.
|He grinned and blushed as she walked over to the four-poster bed. It had taken a month in between working and gardening to finish her wedding present. Not one nail, screw or brad touched the fine oak wood. Individual, hand-carved wooden pegs, shaped by his finest tools and honed to perfection, joined the railings to the legs.
Magnificent in its simplicity, the bed seemed to preen with pride in its beauty. The shapely posts reached for the ceiling and atop each post rested a teardrop shaped knob.
"It's so beautiful," she whispered, tenderly running her fingers over the finish. "I've never seen anything so beautiful in my life."
He knew that to be true. She grew up on a farm with a sister, four brothers and one parent, her mother. They struggled after her father's death to keep the farm alive and prosperous, but the Depression hit hard.
She knew flour sack dresses, cornhusk dolls and beans for supper. If they had a good season, cornbread joined the string beans and black-eyed peas. If they didn't, her mother praised the Lord for giving them what they did have.
Through the hard times, she grew up tall and beautiful, her Cherokee heritage shining through in black hair, tanned skin and high cheekbones. He knew the moment they met, they would marry. For two years, he courted her, though, at first, she wanted nothing to do with him. His persistence paid off. Little by little, she accepted his insistent wooing, finally saying yes to his marriage request. Though he knew pride was a sin, his head lifted higher and his step grew more assured when they were together.
This day they had married; tomorrow he left for his enlistment in the navy. For three years, they had brief times together during his short leave periods. The bed became their refuge where they built dreams for a wonderful future. Wrapped in each others' arms, over the years, they loved, fought, made-up and made babies in his wedding gift to her.
Thunderstorms brought her and the children to the middle of the bed for safety. No one considered the metal springs supporting the mattress as being dangerous. Through the storms, she told stories, wiped noses, gave hugs and kisses, striving to keep her babies calm.
The years blessed them. He moved upward in his company; she insisted motherhood made her happy, though a distant look touched her eyes at times. The children moved away. After twenty years, they still slept in a comfortable tangle each night on the bed.
One day she decided to write. Just like that, without preamble. She didn't know if her work might be readable, but the urgency pressed her forward. Taking pencil and writing tablet, she moved to her bed sanctuary. Words flowed in her beautiful script, rushing to fill each page with the rampant thoughts running through her mind. Hours passed before she sank back in the pillows to rest. The bed and her writing haven became one.
Then the tornadoes began. Rumbling and roaring through their small town, the towering terrors formed a new alley. It became a matter of when not if their home would be hit. Mother Nature spared them for one year, two years, but demanded they pay their dues in the middle of the night in the third year.
Twisting the house on its foundation without removing it, tearing away the roof, the tornado opened seams to the destructive winds and rains. He held her tight as they huddled in the corner of their room, not thinking, just praying.
Nature's hand wrestled the bed from its resting place, pulling it through the roof and dashing it on the ground. The posts ripped from the rails, breaking the precious hand-carved wooden pegs. The headboard gave in to a huge garden stone, breaking in half. Only the footboard survived the fury of the storm, but even it couldn't stand up against the soaking rains.
The next day, they came back from a cousin's home to survey the damage. With a mournful cry, she ran to the scattered ruins of the bed. When she returned to his side, she held one of the post teardrops nestled in the safety of her hands.
They wept over their loss, until they remembered what had made their lives truly special.
Mama and Daddy realized the bed was furniture, made special under Daddy's hands, but their love kept the marriage strong. Mama kept that knob until she died thirty years later, not as a reminder of loss, but as a reminder of what remained.