“This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up to the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others … ”
“It’s a small house, a fixer-upper. Could you be happy there until we can build our own?” The young man had his concerns.
“Josh,” said his soon-to-be-bride, “You forget I’ve lived in third-world countries with conditions most people couldn’t even imagine. Yes! I’m sure we will be happy there.”
I asked Fran if I could visit her new home. The newlywed was thrilled. “I’d love it. Come.”
Fran captivated my attention the moment I saw her. She sat next to me at a Starkville Community Theatre performance. She had an easy laugh that sounded like rippling water. She talked softly and slowly, considering her words. Her skin glowed like an Oil of Olay commercial.
Fran married Joshua Guerry, my good friend Barbara’s nephew, and thus I invited myself to the little house in the Prairie I had heard so much about.
We turned down Gilmer-Wilburn Road. “It’s gravel,” she said. “You don’t mind, do you?”
I assured her that I traveled gravel roads daily.
We took a right into what was once a working farm, then on to a small white house with a porch. On the porch scrambled three kittens.
“Oooh, my babies,” Fran cooed. As she reached into the food barrel, a kitty fell in and scrambled out, creating in Fran that sound of rippling water.
Beside the porch was a wooden pallet turned on end with brackets to stand it upright. A few modifications transformed it into an herb rack.
On the side of the house, Josh built a small wood table below the water faucet. He added a galvanized pail fitted with a drain. Nearby, Fran had gathered old bricks from a pile and was making a patio by hand. I hadn’t reached the front porch and already I was smitten.
The front door, the one Fran had painted red, opened into a large living area. The floor was wooden boards painted a deep blue. Thrifted furniture and wedding gifts tastefully decorated their humble home.
To the left was the kitchen, linoleum floors with handmade cabinets and open, board shelves. One cabinet was painted red; her wedding dishes were powder blue.
Behind the kitchen was a room that surely was once a screened-in sleeping room. It was closed in and functioned as a laundry.
Fran cooed again, “Come see the ‘movie’ room.” Through the living room on the opposite side of the laundry were wooden pallets with thrifted mattresses and a papasan chair. There was a TV, but no cable or satellite; easy to imagine the couple, cuddled up, eating popcorn and watching old movies.
The house was small, but the rooms were large and simple. The bedroom and the bath were equally as creative. Every window in the house was uniquely covered by an odd assortment of window coverings, even a shower curtain. In a crazy, delightful way, it all worked.
With a spirit of generosity Fran reached for a handmade wreath from her wedding day. “I want you to have this,” she said.
Oh, I most certainly wanted it.