Husband snipped the ends from a dozen roses and divided them into four vases. He placed chocolates next to each, then strode to the kitchen, ready to spend the next four hours preparing a surprise Valentine’s Day dinner for the girls and me.
Curry chicken with garlic cooked over the fire in the pit in the back yard. Then came oysters with chorizo butter, mashed potatoes and gravy, and an assortment of cheeses and olives.
The five of us at last settled into our places at the table. I surveyed the feast, moved by the effort.
“This is delicious,” I said to Husband. “But you’re not a fan of curry.”
“I’m a fan of you.”
He reminded me of someone just then, and I wanted the girls to hear it—again.
“Girls, I have a story for you,” I said.
Between bites, my three teenagers watched me.
“There once was a very kind man. He was a respected landowner too. One day, a young immigrant woman came to his field during the barley harvest. Poor people back then were allowed to pick up the grain left on the ground by the harvesters. So that’s what she did.”
“Mom, we already know this story,” Ricka said, resting her fork for a beat.
I nodded and kept going. “The man asked his employees about the young woman. They said her name, Ruth, and where she came from, and it was a country most people despised. So she was an outsider from a hated place. Then they told him Ruth had lost her husband, and she lived with her mother-in-law who had also lost her husband. She was taking care of the older woman when she could’ve just left her. Two women living together, trying to make ends meet in a time when widows had no options.
“The landowner caught up with Ruth. ‘I’ve heard about how kind you’ve been to your mother-in-law. I hope God blesses you for everything you’ve done. By the way, don’t go to another field. Stay here and you’ll be safe. I’ve told my men not to touch you.’
“Later, he invited Ruth to rest and have lunch with him. When she went back to work, he pulled his men aside. ‘Leave extra grain on the ground for her to pick up, okay?’ he said. And that’s what they did.
“Ruth went home that night and told her mother-in-law all about her day, and the older woman said, ‘That’s Boaz! He’s a relative of my husband’s. You should go back again.’ And so she did. Eventually the kindness of Boaz won Ruth, and she did something daring: she asked him to be a covering for her. ‘You’re my family redeemer,’ she said one night.
“Boaz accepted and lavished her with honor and compassion, and they married. The End,” I said, my vision going blurry.
“Oh, Mom,” Flicka said, tilting her head, her eyes soft.
If prayers travel a path to heaven, mine—that each of my girls would find her Boaz—have worn the trail smooth by now.
Last night we celebrated the pink and red plastic holiday a greeting card company invented by enjoying a fancy meal together. But true love doesn’t waltz in for one day in February. Instead, it sticks with the mourner. It leaves extra grain for the immigrant. It cooks a curry dish when it doesn’t like curry.
And it covers another with its own life.
*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date
*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.