Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)
TITLE: Love Entwined
By Noreen Ophoff
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Dark-haired Jim ran inside to get the key, then walked across the driveway to open the large garage behind the house. When he stuck his head back in the car, he held two dark-red rose buds from his mother’s rambler. He handed one to the bride, Mary Jo, and the other to Sarah. Through her smiles, Sarah thought, “This guy is a keeper.”
In August, Jim’s parents rented a cottage on a lake north of the city. Jim and Sara went for an evening swim, then inside for dessert. Sarah had briefly met Mr. and Mrs. Vander Vee in July, when she had asked her new best friend to a family picnic. She sang at another wedding that morning, and met Jim at his folks’. She was a slim girl, with short brown hair and large blue eyes. That day she had worn an ankle-length yellow dress. Her bubbly personality and friendly manner endeared her to Evelyn and Henry.
Evelyn mused over the subtle changes she had observed in their youngest child since June. Her brown-eyed, gentle -mannered son, was often heard whistling in the house while shaving or outside mowing the lawn. He hadn’t dated anyone else since then either.
Evelyn served chocolate cake with thick chocolate frosting. Everyone sat around a huge rectangular table on the screened porch. Evelyn’s sister, Joan, and her husband, Lyle, and their 9-year old son, Peter, were sharing the cottage too. These two older couples began a conversation, in Dutch. There was a steady stream of exchanged smiles, but Sarah couldn’t understand a word they said, although she had the uncomfortable feeling the discussion revolved around her. Jim comprehended enough to know, and whispered to Sarah, it was all good.
Questions then began, in English, and Sarah readily told of growing up on a dairy farm. The young adults, unbeknownst until then, had each gone ice skating on a popular rink in the city’s outskirts, and swam in the pool there in the summer. At those places they hadn’t met.
Jim asked his mother, “Did you go over to Anderson’s this week?” His 62-year old mom replied, “Yes, Dad and I went last night.” In explanation, to Sarah, Evelyn Vander Vee leaned over, lightly placing her left hand on Sarah’s right arm. “Dear One, Henry is on the board of elders at our church, and we visit a number of people every month. I go with him because conversation is easier. If the family has young children, we stop and pick up a half-gallon of whole milk, a loaf of bread, and a dozen eggs. Families with young children can always use those items, and if they are running low on groceries, we’ve brought them another meal. We save their pride too.”
The Vander Vee’s, gentle people, welcomed their children for Sunday dinners at their home. Jim and Sarah spoke of their plans for a life, and an April wedding. Evelyn cooked the most tender beef chuck roast on the planet, with soft mashed potatoes and smooth gravy. Green beans swam in butter, salads were colorful. Dessert was out of this world too. No one ever left their Cape Cod home feeling hungry.
Henry read the Bible after every meal. His prayers before dinner were often long and caused Evelyn to gently touch his folded hands when grandchildren squirmed or adult children sighed. The gesture became a long-standing family joke.
Grandma V allowed teething babies to gnaw on her chin, or her knees. Grandpa V walked hand-in-hand with 3-year-old granddaughters, to get ice cream cones six blocks away, on hot summer days. His big, cool hand enveloped little sweaty fingers in his clasp.
Deep red, rambling rose bushes now grace several yards, with beauty in sight and scent. Stories are continually shared of love entwined.
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