Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fiction: Mary Ellen's Truest Love

Friday Fiction

This is "fiction" because it is slightly fictionalized, but the details stick very close to the true story of my maternal grandparents. I had originally written it for the FaithWriters "Grandparents" Writing Challenge, but through some mistaken keystrokes it ended up not being posted there.

This week's event is being hosted over at Patterings, so drop by there afterwards for links to more Friday Fiction postings.

Mary Ellen's Truest Love

He knew her before I did. He loved her before I did, too.

He saw her in her gorgeous silk wedding gown, and he knew that someday she would be his. He’d always known that. Always.

She married someone else in that gown. But that was ok. He could wait.

He waited through the parties where he wasn’t welcome, where his name was never spoken, except perhaps as a slur. He waited as she drank and smoked, even though he didn’t like what it did to her.

He waited through the birth of her daughter, and then her son. Sometimes he tried to get her to talk to him, especially when her marriage started to go bad, but she wanted nothing to do with him.

One day she took her children and moved hundreds of miles from the man she had promised “till death do us part.”

The husband stayed behind, but HE didn’t. He followed her as her train pushed state after state behind them all. She would never have believed it if anyone had told her, but it was true.

He watched her struggle to put food on the table for herself and her little ones. Sometimes he helped to make sure the food got there, but she never knew it and didn’t thank him.

He could have done more to help her. He was very rich, after all. But he knew what she would have done with excess money. He liked what her struggles did for her, more than what the party life did to her.

He waited.

Her daughter could be persuaded, he knew. But the little girl wasn’t ready to see him face-to-face, so he sent some others to talk to her about him.

She listened, and she recognized the truth of what they said. Sometimes children can see when adults are blind.

He watched as Mary Ellen’s daughter spoke to her about him, but Mary Ellen still had her doubts. That was ok, too. He could see her heart softening.

“Someday she’ll be mine. I’ve always known it.”

He began making secret contacts, working through people and circumstances to arrange to meet her himself. He even had the nerve to contact her estranged husband.

When he knew she was ready, he arranged to meet her at the home of a friend named Ruth. Mary Ellen already suspected that she would be meeting him there, and he wasn’t about to disappoint her.

And so their love was born. And what a love it was! He had a nobility that refused to give her anything less than what was best, even if it meant more waiting on his part.

He let Mary Ellen find out that her estranged husband was becoming friends with him too, and this new commonality brought husband and wife back together.

He felt delighted.

He loved them generously. He not only gave to the reunited couple, but he began to give to others through them. He cared for their children as they grew and married and had children of their own. He extended his influence to cover their lives, no matter how far they went. It didn’t even matter whether they cared or not. He stayed true to them all.

He had friends all over the globe, and whenever they came to Mary Ellen’s little corner of the world, he used her tiny house to lodge them, and her hospitality to feed them. He used her husband to serve others tirelessly on his behalf.

Those were glorious years, but even now, neither Mary Ellen nor the others had ever seen his face. For that, he still waited.

He waited as their hair turned to gray, and as their bodies grew weaker.

He waited by Mary Ellen’s bedside in the hospital. He waited so that her family could see her and speak to her and come to terms with what was happening. He waited until the day her first great-great-grandchild entered the world. He even worked on that baby who refused to breathe, so that his little life could go on even as hers faded.

Faded? Hardly. It looked that way to me, as I stood by her bed, but I knew better. I knew he was there. I watched her body struggle with its last breaths, and I saw the moment when he took my Nana home.

I know their wait was worth it.

Dedicated to the memory of Mary Ellen and Bryson English, and to the God we love. I long for the day when I can see Him as clearly as they do now!

Click here to see all of my "Friday Fiction" entries!

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LauraLee Shaw said...

What a beautiful tribute! I'm so glad you shared of this love! I'm inspired.

Anonymous said...

Betsy -- that's too bad it didn't get posted for the Grandparents challenge week. This is really creatively written. I love what you did with it. Your message is so encouraging to anyone who has grandparents waiting for the "reunion."


Betsy Markman said...

The "Ruth" mentioned here, who discipled my grandmother and helped to save my grandparents' marriage, was none other than Ruth Hill Munce, daughter of the famous Christian romance novelist Grace Livingston Hill. Ruth was the principal of Grace Livingston Hill Memorial School in St. Petersburg, FL (now Keswick Christian School) when my mother attended there. She also led Bible studies in her home, which was where my grandmother grew her roots in the faith.
Ruth Munce died in 2001, at the age of 103.

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