Happily Ever After

February 17, 2010
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The old man shouldered aside the weather-beaten door with an armload of wood, his limbs creaking along with the rusty hinges. With his foot, he swept aside the rest of the door, letting a young boy in with a similar load.
“Well, did you get enough to last the night, the two of you?” inquired the old man’s wife, briskly stirring a pot of broth over coals. She wrapped her shawl tighter around her bent shoulders to ward against the chill the open door brought.
“Just about,” her husband replied, using his foot to close the door again. He deposited the wood near the hearth, the boy doing the same. “How’d you reckon, lad? Enough ‘til the mornin’?”
The boy scrunched his face up in what he thought was a serious, calculating expression.
“I reckon,” was his solemn reply.
The old man laughed, his sagging face turned merry as he faced to the table, where three bowls were set.

Dinner that night was simple, a chicken broth and barley bread to dip with. Cow’s milk and freshly churned butter were had in small amounts. After the dishes were cleared and washed, they sat down by the newly-kindled fire. The old woman perched on an old rocker, produced a sock that needed darning, and proceeded to do so. Her husband rested on his easy chair, with the young child at his feet. The eager, young face peered up at his elder.
“Tell me where momma is now,” he pleaded expectantly.
The old man’s face turned up to the ceiling in thought. He spoke slowly, enunciating carefully.
“Boy, yore mamma’s in a wonderful spot, she is. You know when you banged up yore knee a few days ago, an’ bawled up a storm?”
The boy ruefully nodded.
“Well, there’s none o’ that where she is now. No bawlin’ or weepin.’ She’s with Jesus, sittin’ and rockin’ and doin’ what she likes, livin’ happily ever after. An’ happily ever after means lookin’ down and seein’ how big you grown, and how you better skedaddle off to yer bed lickity split now, or I’ll hafta sweep ye in with the embers!”
He accompanied this with a shooing motion with his hands and half-rising up in his chair. The young boy giggled and scampered off to the next room.
“Yore Gramma’ll be in to tuck you in inna minute,” the old man called after his grandson.
He rested his hands in his lap, feeling the weight in his shoulders, and breathed a deep sigh. His wife roused herself to see the boy to bed, and she rested her hand on his shoulder comfortingly for a moment before setting off into the bedroom.

That night the old man came down with a fever. He had the achin’ chills and was hot and cold and hot all over again. The faithful old woman cooled his wrinkled brow and made a nest for him in their bed. The old man shuddered through his aches and pains and asked for the company of the little boy. His wife promptly roused the child and walked him, sleepy-eyed, to see the old man.
“How you doin? You real sick?” asked the boy with innocent frankness.
“I reckon so,” replied the old man. He could feel the life leaving him as they spoke. With effort, he reached out and took the boy by the hand.
“You look after yore Gramma, you hear? An’ be good, an’ don’t worry ‘bout me. You know where I’ll be now.”
The boy placed his hand on top of the old man.
“Grandpa,” he said, “Say hi to my momma, an’ look after her for me. Love you.”
“I reckon’ I love you and yer Gramma too,” was the reply.
Then the old man laid back, closed his eyes, and, with peace on his face and joy in his heart, died happily ever after.

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goats said...
Feb. 21, 2010 at 6:33 am
well done!
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