Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Husband and Wife (08/08/14)
- TITLE: Unwrapping God's Gift
By Pauline Carruthers
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Sometimes I imagine I can hear the familiar rhythmic thud of our old printing machine, reverberating upwards through the ceiling to the apartment. What was once an intrusive clatter has now become a cherished symphony and sometimes I long to hear it again. But there is nothing there now, just a big empty space. I pause for a moment, revelling in the memories of the two of us working side by side, printing Christian books. He painstakingly taught me the importance of precision, as I perched for hours on an uncomfortably high stool in front of the ancient Boston Stitcher. One foot on the bar, the other on the pedal. Clunk, click, thousands of wire stitches, books stacked up by the guillotine. I catch an imaginary whiff of glue from the glue binder used for thicker books; my nose wrinkling at the remembered assault on my senses. Our dream of modern equipment never materialised. In retrospect, a blessing in disguise. We would have missed the loveliness of Jesus binding us together, as one prayed and the other worked to repair another breakdown.
When deadlines permitted we would go out for lunch. He would ask where I would like to go and I would say, “You choose,” knowing he would like KFC.
“No, you choose.”
“KFC it is then.”
On those rare evenings when he was up in the apartment we would sit together on the sofa, my feet draped over his lap, his hand resting on my ankle. He would be engrossed in an action movie and I in a book. Occasionally we would look up simultaneously, eyes meeting, acknowledging contentment. Often he would lean over, planting a kiss on my nose. We would laugh, sharing the day’s trials and victories.
Wandering into the study I pick up the snow globe from the bookcase. A picture of the two of us on our wedding day. One vigorous shake and tiny crystal white flakes, like a snowstorm, fall and nestle in the white flower in my hair. On my desk lies the silver pen I gave him on our first anniversary. I took it out of my memory box yesterday. The engraving is as clear as it was twenty seven years ago, ‘Two as One’. It makes me smile at the thought of how different we were then, yet how alike we grew in the light of Jesus. .
He always said my expressions spoke a thousand words, whilst he could string a thousand words together almost without pausing for breath. He led our church Bible study meetings, hesitating now and again, encouraging me to share. Sometimes, over coffee with friends, he would lapse into stories of our years in a Missionary HQ. And I, in my inimitable way, as he used to say, would steer him clear of too much humorous exaggeration. Disagreements were diffused with the reminder that we were God’s gift to each other.
Wandering into the spare room I look back on those sleep filled days as cancer gradually staked a claim on his body. My hand automatically reaches out to caress the lavish bowl of yellow silk sunflowers standing on the desk. We loved sunflowers. His favourite colours, restful beige and latte, line the walls; cream curtains and bed linen add to the almost ethereal glow, as the sun streams through the window. He so appreciated the light and tranquillity of the room. Our favourite Neil Diamond CD lies by the stack of Christian music on the bedside cabinet. I load it into the player. The words, ‘Hello my friend, hello’ cut through the loneliness, evoking thoughts of precious moments. I’m reminded of the beautifully expressive poem by William Wordsworth.
‘I wandered, lonely as a cloud that floats on high over vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils.’
Sometimes I feel as lonely as a single cloud in a pale blue sky. Then all at once I see a crowd, a host of golden memories. I’m alone, yet the loneliness is drenched with the legacy of shared love and laughter. Of problems overcome, successes and failures lived through, joy and sadness shared. I think of the way his hand would clasp mine as we prayed together. Two as one in Jesus. Memories can never die.
I take the bowl of sunflowers and gently place them in a box, knowing who they will bless. Tomorrow I will continue packing.
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