I heard a story once from my mom about a couple that lived not to far from where she was raised. The husband was hard working farmer, rough and hardened by the life he had been given. His wife, equally hardworking, was proud and strong willed. Married at a young age, they worked along side each other, never complaining about the hard scrabble world that was theirs. Their love was silent and not frequently shown. They had a three children and one buried at four years of age.
The husband was rough around the edges, and not one to show emotions. The wife was hot tempered and impetuous. They didn’t argue very often; they had too much to do and were too tired to exhaust the effort. But ever so often they did, and when they did, this is what always happened.
The wife would yell and scream and try to get her point across. She would try her best to get a rise out of him. The husband was just so cold and stubborn. He would say his peace about the subject and his word was law ,or so he thought. He would say,” it’s my way or nothing”! When he said those words, that was her breaking point. She’d grab her old coat and holler out, “come on children, we’re going to your grandma’s.” Off she would go, hightailing it down the dirt road to her mother’s house, which was just a little ways down the road. The children, in stair steps, coming behind. Every time they had a bad argument she went to her mother’s, so her family wasn’t that shocked to see her coming through the gate every now and then.
A day or two would pass. Each of them had plenty to do during the day to keep them busy and enough quiet in the country nights to lend to plenty of thinking.
After a few days, it never failed, the husband would quietly drink his supper coffee. He would get up, go out the door and walk down the dusty road to his mother in law’s home. When he got to the gate, he let himself in. In the front of the yard, by the gate was a good sized apple tree. The husband would climb the apple tree and there in the peaceful mountain night, he would begin to sing. He would sing in the mountain way, an old English ballad about true love. He would start off low and would get louder as he sang, each note more heartfelt than before.
Before too long, his wife would open the door and walk out of the house. She would walk to the apple tree, where she was his only audience until he finished his love song. Then after the song was done, he would climb down the tree. The couple would then hold each other, not speaking, but clinging to each other as if they were the only people in the world. The wife would then run back into the house, gather the kids and the little family would walk back to their home, to their life together, a little ways down the road.
Was the man hen pecked? Was the wife too forgiving? I can’t say. I only know they did what worked for them. They stayed together until she died, a few years later. He was by her deathbed and she asked him to sing for her. And he did, all the while holding her hand. She smiled and closed her eyes, and it seemed to him that they were the only people in the world.