Once upon a time beauty bloomed inside Effie’s mind as she planned the best design for the edging that would trim the sheets and pillowcases needed to complete her dowry. She often hurried to finish the farm chores to allow time to complete a few extra inches of lace before bedtime. After each harvest, she eagerly counted out her coins, hoping on the next trip to town to buy more linen to make hand towels and napkins to monogram during the winter.
All was finished and packed away in a separate wooden trunk by the time she climbed into the family’s wagon to be driven to Simmons College for her teaching degree. When things got tough at school, she comforted herself with daydreams about using the beautiful things carefully folded and waiting in her hope chest. After graduation, she moved to the territory of New Mexico to start her new life as a single woman teaching school in what became Lea County. Every month, she bought a few pieces of delicate, hand painted fine china to add to her dowry. And she kept it all under lock and key for safety’s sake.
After she married, they decided to build only a very small frame house to live in temporarily because they were living as simply as possible while getting the sheep ranch and small farm started. All of these precious linens and good china would be used in the new house – the real house they would build after proving the claim and after they had more money. But right now, they were just getting by.
Especially with growing children though, every year the nice house seemed to be further and further down the road. Occasionally Effie would open the trunk to look again at the lovely things they would use some day and show them to her three girls, provided they washed their hands before touching any of the treasures. Their big eyes drank in the glory of delicate hand painted tea cups and they begged to use them right now – today.
But cautious Effie always said, “No, not until we build the new house; these things are just too nice to use here. But then, we’ll use them every day and especially when we have company come over for dinner.”
But one Sunday, when the oldest girl was eight and the youngest a toddler, before the new house was built, they returned home after church to a smoldering pile of ashes. No one knows how the fire started or even when. They were grateful that the wind had not spread it to the corrals, so none of the livestock was lost. The windmill was still pumping water from under the ground, but no one had been there to use it to put out the fire.
Of course none of them had ever gotten to use the beautiful things that had been made with such generosity and such anticipation of the delight of sharing beauty with the people you love most of all.
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Share whatever beautiful things you have with everyone you love while both are still with you. Each of us needs all the beauty we can get from mundane tools neatly arranged to a marvelous view of our own back yard to a table set neatly in a quiet house to encourage conversation during the shared meal. Thus we build real memories instead of trying to live in air castles.
Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather