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The Old Man and His Wife
It was a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in southern Arizona, and Mr. and Mrs. Walker were sitting on their small front porch in their old, wooden rocking chairs. There was a slight breeze and a fair amount of sunshine, which perfectly evened out to a cool, pleasant day for this old couple. Mrs. Walker was quietly tending to her sewing chores, and her husband sat motionless as he remained in deep thought with his hand on his head. Although they did not have anything exciting or entertaining that they were engaged in, this happy little couple was completely content with their peaceful afternoon.
As Mr. Walker sat there thinking, his wife’s curiosity led her to ask him, “What thoughts could possibly absorb all of your attention this afternoon, Jed?”
As the old man looked in her direction with an uncertain expression on his wrinkled face, he shortly replied, “Oh, nothing of great importance. I was just admiring the beautiful red and pink flowers you recently planted in our garden over there.”
“Why, are you sure that there isn’t anything else you want to talk about? It seems as if something is troubling you,” the wife responded in a questionable tone.
“Please, don’t worry about me. I can assure you that there is nothing the matter,” he replied positively.
From then on until the rest of the day, the wife did not dare to bother him any longer, but she still felt she knew him well enough to know that there was something on his mind. Regardless of her uncertain mood, the two of them went to bed shortly after a good meal of tomato soup and buttered bread.
The next morning, Jed was up bright and early to get a head start on the morning chores. Before he left for the kitchen, he took a good look around their bedroom as an idea sparked in his head. Secretly, he had been pondering on the subject of his wife’s birthday which was in eight days, and he wanted more than anything to surprise her with a wonderful birthday present. The problem was that he did not know what kind of present he should prepare for her. However, that morning was the morning that he knew exactly what he would do. He would make her a beautiful oak-wood dresser from the trees in a field nearby. His wife’s old dresser was practically falling apart, and it hardly had enough space for the things she wanted to keep in it. Quickly, he ate a small breakfast and headed for the shed. There he would find his metal tool box with everything he would need to build a beautiful dresser for his wife.
“Dear, what are you doing so early this morning?” the old wife asked as her suspicion built upon her questions from the day before.
“Mary, you needn’t worry about a thing. I am just catching up on some business in the shed,” he added hoping she would leave the conversation at that.
“Jed, I just don’t understand. Why are you afraid to tell me what you have been up to?”
she stated in a more demanding tone.
“Please dear, do not ask me anymore questions. You will find out what I am doing soon enough,” the old man said as he concluded the short conversation.
After that, the old wife knew that she would just have to trust that Jed would soon reveal his secret to her. As she gave up her persistence, the tired wife continued on with her day.
Before saying another word, Jed finally made his way to the shed and picked up the old tool box. Sooner than he knew it, he was already gathering the wood he would need to build his wife a beautiful oak dresser. His wife never bothered to come out to the shed, but just in case she did, Jed locked the heavy doors to conceal his secret until the right time. During the whole rest of that long, tiring afternoon, Jed worked his hardest at sawing, carving and screwing until his hands were sore. Once the evening came to an end, he left his work and came inside for another meal.
“How was your day, Mary?” the old man said with a smile on his face.
“Oh, never better. I finished the house cleaning and completed my sewing projects before I started on dinner.” she said as she tried her best to squeeze her long day into one brief sentence.
“Well, I’m sure glad to hear that,” he continued, “and my day was a fine one as well.”
“You sure seem to be happy,” the suspicious wife pointed out, “It wouldn’t have anything to do with that project you’ve been sweating over all day in the shed, would it?”
“We are not going to discuss any more of this matter as of tonight,” he briefly stated with a serious look in his eyes.
The two finished up their dinner which was composed of cooked veggies and ham. Shortly later, the couple went to bed without another word said.
As the week went by, Jed worked harder than ever in the shed while his wife occasionally looked out the window in wonder of what he could be up to. She did not have the slightest clue of what he was doing. Of course, she was aware that her birthday was coming up, but her husband never did anything this great for such an occasion. After the first few days of questioning herself about the subject, she finally gave up. She did not even bother to ask her husband Jed any further questions.
The new oak dresser was coming together beautifully. Jed could not help but keep a large grin on his face once a day was completed. After much hard labor throughout the week, his masterpiece was finally completed, and his wife’s birthday was the next day. Now he needed to think of the best way possible to surprise her with the wonderful gift. Soon enough, he had his thoughts all sorted out and an idea was planned.
The next morning, the old man was up bright and early at five-o’clock to prepare his surprise. The night before, Jed spoke with a friend down the street and asked him if he could help him carry the dresser into their bedroom. Sure enough, Jed’s close, young friend Clark showed up in a quiet manner at their front porch at just the time they planned to meet. The two of them made a trip to the shed and came out with the dresser. They silently and gently carried it into the perfect place of their bedroom where they set it in front of the bed.
“Thanks so much for helping me out,” Jed said in a grateful manner before his friend on the front porch.
“No problem. I know your wife will love what you made for her. Let me know how everything turns out,” Clark said as he left the Walker’s property.
Just about two hours later, the sun was creeping over the mountaintops and Jed’s excited mood led him to pace back and forth until his wife would wake up. The old man had neatly placed some red and pink flowers on top of the dresser with their petals facing the bedside. He quietly waited in the front living room on his old chair until his wife would wake up to her surprise. He didn’t want to be in the room when she woke up; rather, he decided that she could discover the surprise on her own which would make her astonishment even bigger.
As the window allowed sunlight to bathe the bedroom in golden color, the wife suddenly woke up with a pleasant expression on her face. Then she slowly turned her head to see if her husband was already up. Seeing that he was, she slowly moved out of bed when her eyes caught sight of the beautiful, wooded dresser standing before her eyes. In a speechless, amazed way, everything all of a sudden made sense to her like a puzzle being put together right before her eyes. This is what her sweet, thoughtful husband had been up to that whole time. With happiness running through her feeble body, she ran to find her husband sitting in the living room where he had waited for over two hours.
“It’s so beautiful, Jed!” she said in an astounded approach. “Thank you so much! I don’t know what to say or how to thank you.”
“Happy birthday, dear Mary,” Jed happily said as he embraced her with a hug and a tender kiss on her cheek. “I hope you like it.”
“Oh, I love it! It is so beautiful. You are a very kind, thoughtful man,” she concluded in the most grateful manner she knew how.
The two of them spent the rest of the day in each other’s company as happy as two old married people could ever be.