In the bottom of Granny Walton’s trunk, under a pile of handmade quilts, Emma found the manuscript, swaddled and bound in a large soft piece of leather. Though yellowed with age and slightly tattered around the edges, the thick stack of fine linen writing paper was a summons that could not be denied. She read the title page: “My Great Romance by Virginia Walton”.
Granny wrote this? Emma was definitely intrigued now. She scooped up the package and hurried from the dark attic.
Sitting at the old kitchen table, she opened her treasure, Page after page of flowing script, the straight lines written close together, easily two hundred sheets or more. The old fashioned cursive, with occasional inkblots and alternating broad, then spidery, strokes, had faded somewhat, but was still legible. She began to read.
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t love Timothy. From my third birthday on, he was my sweetheart and my best friend. Every day, we criss-crossed the dirt lane separating our farms and played together. That is, until he got old enough to go to school. That year that we were separated, I would take my dolly every day after lunch and wait by the gate for him to come home. The next year, when I was big enough, we walked to school together. We sat side by side on the same school bench, and he helped me with my numbers and letters. He was my protector in the school yard and I loved him with all my heart.
Wait just a minute. Grandpa’s name was Randall Montgomery Walton. Granny loved a boy named Timothy? No wonder she hid this in the trunk. Of course, she and Grandpa had both passed on now. In fact, that was why she, Emma, was here. As the most unencumbered member of the family, not to mention the fact that she was healthy, young and strong, she had been nominated to take on the task of preparing the old farm house for sale.
She hadn’t expected to uncover a find like this, though. To imagine Granny Walton as a young girl in love required some effort. Emma mustered her love of a good story and forged ahead.
…..When time came for the Sadie Hawkins dance, I was still mad as a wet barn cat. Three times, I had caught Tim watching Stella McCormick, and he couldn’t deny it. So, I just went my own merry way and asked that old stick-in-the-mud, Randy Walton, to go with me instead. Timothy, of course, was flabbergasted.
“Ginny, please!” he lamented, almost in tears.
“No, sir, Timothy Marshall,” said I, tossing my pigtails in my most haughty manner. “You’d best learn, you can’t be eyeing any other girls if you want to be dancing with me on Saturday night.”
Oho! Wasn’t she feisty? And Grandpa made a little cameo appearance, too. The plot thickens. Emma fixed herself a sandwich for supper, and kept on reading.
….It was almost dark. We were in the porch swing, talking some about his graduation, but mostly just swinging.
That evening, my sweet Timothy, that gentle boy, he romanced me real good. He got down on his knees, took my hands and said, “Ginny, I have always loved you. You are my heart, a part of me. Will you be my wife?”
I must be honest in the telling of this story. If I had known what he was going to say next, I might not have accepted. But, he was my heart also. So, I said yes.
And then, he told me he was going to war.
Wow. Granny knew how to tell a story. Emma locked up for the night, fixed herself a cup of cocoa and eagerly picked up the story again.
…I was there when Mrs. Marshall got the news. I was so young. I tried to comfort her, but she did most of the comforting. I cried buckets, forever and a day, it seemed like. Those were the saddest days….…
Emily got some tissues. Only a few pages left now.
…Our boys came home, a few at the time. It was hard to feel young again, but we tried. And after a while, it grew easier...
... When Randall came to call, I found myself smiling again. “My Great Romance” was over, but the story of “The Man I Love” was just beginning.
Emma headed for the attic.
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