Monday, January 23, 2017

Overcoming the Stigma...

Standing in the cold, clanging, metallic clutter of her kitchen, Melanie stared out the window above her sink. “The fields always look lonesome and barren after winter.”

She paused.
Jim, you hear me?”

“Huh?” His newspaper stirred and he peered over it.

“Nothing.”  Such was their marriage, similar to the field, devoid of growth and without seeds to sprout.

Last fall, the youngest of their three children leapt from the cradle to go to college; it left an empty nest. Soon, their relationship plunged into a lifestyle void of real communication.  

Only the banging of dishes, the humming of a microwave, a blaring television, a rustling newspaper, or impatient tones proved the other existed.    

Like a festering need that’s not met they found no meaningful togetherness. Each evening in the living room, like clockwork, they’d lean back in their recliners and fall asleep.

The haven of silence lulled them into an escape.

For years, her light of life beamed on the children, and his spotlight shone on fields and billowing acres of grain. But now, inside the stucco walls of their home, the two had only each other, and neither knew where to begin.

After breakfast Jim left, and while she did dishes Melanie glanced outside at her flower garden. The memories of its summer fullness filled her heart. She remembered how she and Jim planted it to be visible from the kitchen.

She remembered their pledge, “When these flowers bloom, it’ll remind us to keep a blossom for our marriage and keep the weeds out.”

Standing at the sink tears rolled down her cheek.   

The next day Melanie decided to give the flower garden some love and went to the tool shed for a hoe. She shooed chickens out of her way and noticed how both the flower bed and the fields bore the barrenness of the past winter’s coldness.

Gently, she hoed the soil and broke its crusty surface.

She worked the ground until the surface was soft enough for the plants to break the barrier that separated them from the full bloom of life. Suddenly, she had an exciting idea.

Her mind whirled “Not enough time before Jim comes home, but maybe tomorrow.” She put the hoe away, shooed more chickens out of her way and walked to the house with a gleam in her eye.

Later the front door slammed. “That you Jim?”

“Ya, what a day, but I’m excited about getting the fields ready for planting. Smells like chicken.”

 “Well, I tired of shooing them away so we’re going to eat one of. Spose the rest will learn?”

They thanked the Lord for his provisions and reduced the chicken to a pile of bones and the trimmings disappeared.

Melanie cleaned up and went into the den and found Jim in his recliner with his upper torso hidden under a newspaper. She claimed her recliner and reached for her needlepoint. Soon gentle snores drifted from the room. Yes, another evening in paradise.

The next day Jim went to town for seed and, afterwards, he planned to spend the day in the workshop.

Undisturbed, Melanie put her in plan in motion. She stuck a pork roast, a favorite of Jim’s, in the oven. She grabbed a bowl and went out to the flower garden and filled it with soil. Back in the house she borrowed a fake flower from a flower pot in the corner and stuck it in the bowl of dirt.

She hid it in the pantry in case you-know-who came home early.  

Later the front door slammed. “That you Jim.”

“Ya, got the seed and when it’s time to plant the equipment should be ready. Smells like pork, it’s not my birthday is it?”

“I hope not because you’re too old for me now. Hurry and get washed.”

She heard the water in the bathroom running and got the bowl from the pantry and put it in the middle of the table.

Jim sat down wiping his hands on his pants. “Let’s pray so we can eat. What’s that in the middle of the table?

“A bowl of dirt and a fake flower.”

“I can see that. Tell me more.”

“You don’t remember our pledge?”


“When the flowers bloom it’ll remind us to keep a blossom in our marriage, and to keep the weeds out.”

The muscles in Jim’s face softened and his eyes filled with tears.

That night neither of them slept in their recliner.

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