03228_000_030First Place Winner, 1988 Feature Article Contest
He was just a man who worked for a moving company. I don’t even remember his name, but my one conversation with him had a profound influence on my life and on my marriage.
We were moving from Boise, Idaho, to a new assignment in Nova Scotia. Our transfer had come suddenly in October, and we had only two weeks to get ready. It was a hard move for us; besides the emotional impact of moving so far from family and friends, moving the accumulations of twelve years of marriage and five children was almost overwhelming.
The movers came on Tuesday morning, and we started packing in the dining room. As we wrapped dishes I studied the moving man, who had obviously worked at his profession for many years. His hands were large and calloused, yet he handled crystal and china with ease. His blue overalls were a bit tight around the middle and his hair was thinning, but his eyes were kind and he was easy to talk to. I remember saying to him, “You must have had a lot of interesting experiences in moving families.”
“Yes,” he replied. “But there was one that I will never forget. A few years ago, I moved a lady who had a china hutch like the one you have here, only on hers the top part separated from the bottom. We picked up the top half to move it and found between the two sections a white envelope. When she saw it the lady gasped, grabbed the envelope, and tore it open—all the while shaking and crying. She was so upset that my partner and I didn’t know what to do. Finally she calmed down and told us the story.” He went on. “Fifteen years earlier, that envelope containing several hundred dollars had been lost. She blamed her husband, and he blamed her. Each one thought that the other had spent the money. They fought over it until they forgot how to trust each other. Their arguments and doubts finally led to a painful divorce.” He paused, took a deep breath and continued working in silence as if remembering it had made him sad.
My own marriage was on shaky ground right then, and his story made a lasting impression. It gave me a new resolve to work harder on my marriage and to never give up.
We made our move to Nova Scotia, arriving in a howling November blizzard. The harsh winter weather made it hard to get established in our new home. Because of his work my husband, Jesse, traveled a great deal. So it was up to me to handle frozen pipes and broken furnaces in the middle of the night, plus a never-ending round of sick children. There was a lot of flooding in Nova Scotia that winter, not just from the heavy rains reported on the nightly news, but also from my tears as I struggled to overcome homesickness and the lonely agony of trying to keep my marriage and family together.
There was a small branch of the Church in Dartmouth, and it became our lifeline. Both my husband and I had grown up strong in the Church, had married in the temple, and had always been active. We eagerly accepted several callings each, and as we served with those wonderful Saints, we worked out our own problems. Being so far away from family, we learned to depend on each other and on the Lord. We prayed constantly for guidance and strength. As our love blossomed again, we looked forward to each new day and the joy of seeing our precious children grow up in love and security. How thankful we were that we had not given up when Satan tried so hard to destroy us!
After two years we were transferred to Portland, Oregon, and over the next ten years there were many times that faith and our love for each other helped us over the rough spots.
Then came the day that “we” lost the savings bonds. There were only four of them, but they would prove to be far more valuable than the money they represented. I always kept them in a green plastic case in the old gray filing cabinet. For fifteen years I knew exactly where they were. One day Jesse wanted to see them. I got them for him and forgot about it until the furnace broke down just before Christmas. We needed extra money fast, so we decided to use the bonds. They were nowhere to be found. I insisted that Jesse had them last, and he was just as sure that he had given them back to me. We both searched our files, but found nothing. Our frustration with each other was building. In desperation I reminded him of the story that the moving man had shared with me so long ago. It helped us to put the problem in perspective. After several days of searching I gave up and went back to the task of making Christmas preparations for our family, which now consisted of seven children.
The holidays came and went. The furnace was replaced and we began plans for the May wedding of our eldest daughter. Again we needed extra money. The bonds seemed the only answer. We searched for days with no success. As I cleaned cupboards and drawers in preparation for the wedding I thought surely I would find them, but there was not a trace. But somehow the money didn’t seem as important as the struggle for trust and loyalty to each other.
The wedding was a wonderful success. The trip to the Seattle Temple was the best part. We took all the children and stayed in a real hotel together—along with the groom’s family and both sets of grandparents. The newlyweds went off to a honeymoon, and life returned to normal. With the expense of two children in college, Jesse worked longer hours; since our youngest child was in first grade, I took a job at our children’s school as a teacher’s aide for mentally retarded children. I loved working with the children and seeing my two sons at recess.
Then, in the twenty-fifth year of our marriage, we were thrilled to discover that we would be blessed with a special miracle of love. Our eighth child and fifth son was born four days after Christmas. There was no question that I would quit work and stay home to care for him. When he was five months old, a son and daughter were called on missions at the same time. Even though I took in babysitting to help out, there were many times when we wondered how we would make it, and the subject of the bonds would come up again. By now we realized that the blame for their loss had been replaced by a special bond of love between us. It was like a secret pact that only the two of us knew about. We often said that we would find them someday, but we knew that even if we never found them, their value would continue to grow because they had helped us to find unconditional love and trust in each other.
It was just two weeks before Christmas again. I was counting my blessings and wishing that I had enough money to buy Jesse a new lawnmower. Ours was so old and broken down that it demanded back-breaking labor to start it, if indeed it would start at all! I decided to try once more to find the bonds. This time I removed the bottom drawer of the file cabinet, and instead of just looking, I swept the bottom carefully with my hand. There, in a dark corner, was a green plastic case. I wept tears of gratitude, not because I had found the bonds, but because they had been lost long enough for us to build an eternal bond of trust.