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A Precious Treasure
By Molly Ross Naulty
Thursday, March 27, 2003
When Marge and Bob Evans found the house of their dreams, they had no idea how special that house would become. The surprises it held would touch their lives, and the lives of their dear friends.
A Precious Treasure
By Molly Ross
The house was everything the real estate agent said it would be, and much, much more. It was the house of dreams. Marge Evans stood at the front gate and gazed at the most marvelous house she had ever seen.
"Is this what you want?" her husband, Bob, asked her, already knowing the answer. She looked at him as if he had spoken a foreign language. Then she smiled, and her smile told him volumes.
For twenty-five years, since their wedding day, Marge and Bob had been dreaming about a special place to live out their lives. Bob became seriously ill a year earlier, and hadn't been able to work. He hadn't quite gotten used to it. Marge hadn't, either. He always seemed to be under foot, and complained about being bored almost every day. It was at those times that they talked about the house of their dreams.
Finally, the day came when they decided to sell their house and begin their search. The real estate agent showed them what seemed to be hundreds of houses. Many were nice, affordable, and perfectly suitable, but the dream house was yet to be found.
"I think I've found your house, Marge." Jesse said when she called one Sunday afternoon. "Can you two get away for a few minutes?" Jesse Chambers was an absolute jewel of a real estate agent. She was enthusiastic, and she was tireless. Every time
Marge said "No, this won't do.", Jesse said "Okay, I'll keep looking." Today she felt she had finally found what they were looking for.
"It's a beautiful old house. The yard is small. The kitchen is large, and it faces east. The living room has a huge fireplace with a stone hearth." she said with her usual eagerness. "What do you say? Shall I come by and pick you up?"
"Oh, yes. Please. We'll be ready." Marge said. Her excitement caused Bob to look up from his newspaper. He smiled at the sight of her. She was so special to him he would have moved mountains for her if he could. He laid his newspaper on the floor beside his chair and removed his reading glasses.
"Well, when will she be here, Sweetie?" he asked when she hung up.
"In about fifteen minutes. She said she's found our house. The description sounded good. Do you mind going out to see it?" Marge said. She was increasingly afraid she was depriving him of the rest she knew he needed. His heart was weakening and she couldn't bear the thought of life without him.
"Of course not. I'll get our coats." Bob said. He was out of his chair and at her side before he had finished speaking.
Jesse arrived on schedule and drove them down a quiet, tree-lined lane with white picket fences and beautifully manicured yards.
"Shall we go in?" Jesse teased, as Marge stood transfixed at the gate. Bob placed his hand at his wife's elbow and guided her up the cobblestone walk to the front porch.
"The porch is perfect! Look, Bob, isn't it wonderful?" Marge said. She ran up the steps and through the door that Jesse held open.
As the three of them progressed through the house, it became increasingly apparent that Marge and Bob had indeed found the house of their dreams.
Over the next few weeks they waded through mountains of paperwork, and signed contracts. The long awaited time had come for Marge and Bob to move into their new home.
The first year was everything Marge expected it to be. She and Bob spent their days making their new house their home. Jesse, the real estate agent, became a regular guest and a close friend.
"This house is more than I ever dreamed of, Bob." Marge said one Saturday afternoon. "I imagined all that it is, but the happiness I feel is almost beyond belief. It's as if there's a spirit here that was meant to bring us joy. Does that make any sense, Honey?" Marge sat in a white wicker chair on the front porch. She had her sandaled feet propped on a plump cushioned wicker stool. Bob sat beside her with his hand in hers.
"It sure does! I feel it, too." he said. He squeezed her hand and smiled. "I'd say you picked the right one."
"Ha! We both did. We picked Jesse." Marge said. "She knew what we wanted. She's a very special lady. I'm so glad she's a part of our lives."
That night it happened. The ground began to tremble. The dishes rattled in the cupboards. The lamps swayed. Pictures fell from the walls. Bob and Marge had just finished dinner, and were startled by the occurrence.
"It's an earthquake, Bob!" Marge said, as calmly as she could.
"Think we should take cover?" Bob asked. They had felt them before, far worse than this one. As soon as he asked the question, the shaking stopped.
"Marge, come here." Bob shouted from the living room. Marge was assessing the earthquake damage in the kitchen.
"Just a second." she called to him.
"Look at this." Bob said when she appeared beside him. He was pointing at a large crack in the stone hearth of the fireplace.
"Oh, no!" Marge said. She reached out and touched the stone where the crack started. "Can you fix it?"
"I think so. It doesn't look too bad." Bob said. He left the room and returned with his toolbox.
For the next hour and a half Bob worked on the fireplace. Marge sat and watched, lending a hand whenever she could.
"Marge, look! What is this?" Bob said. He pulled a small wooden box from the space behind one of the loose stones. Marge jumped up and ran to the hearth.
"Was that in there?" she asked. Bob nodded and sat down on the floor, the box in his hands. "Open it!" she said.
"You open it." Bob said. He smiled and handed the box to his wife.
She slowly lifted the hinged lid of the carved wooden box. There were pictures of a family, a magazine, a front page from a local newspaper, a baby rattle, and an old wedding band.
"It seems to be some sort of a time capsule." Marge said. "Look at the dates on this magazine and newspaper."
Bob held the photos and gazed into the faces of the people who had apparently assembled these treasures, to be found someday.
For the rest of that day and the next, they inspected the articles from the box. They speculated about each item. The newspaper was thirty-two years old, the magazine was the same. The photos were old, but in remarkable condition, hardly faded at all.
"Hey, is anybody home?" the voice came from the back door.
"Come in, Jesse. We're in the living room." Marge called to her dear friend. "Come look at what we found in the fireplace stones. Somebody seems to have left it to be found one day." She spread the various items in front of Jesse, as she explained how they had found the box.
Jesse picked up each item carefully, one at a time. She held the pictures and stared at them. She seemed to be lost in them, somehow.
"Jesse, what's the matter?" Bob asked. He was watching as she brushed a tear from her cheek.
"It's my mother." Jesse whispered. "My mother and my father, and me." She continued to hold the snapshots, her eyes fixed on them. "When I was a small child, my father and mother were killed in a car accident. I was sent to live with an elderly aunt. When she died I was adopted. I don't remember very much of it. I only know what I was told by my adoptive parents. Nobody even knew where we had lived. This is the house. This is my first home!" Jesse burst into sobs. Marge held her close and allowed her to cry. Bob touched a tear on his own face.
The three of them talked about the items in the box, and Jesse told her friends about other pictures she had seen at her aunt's house. She held the wedding band in her hand and cried. She held the rattle and laughed. She looked at the faces of her parents, and remembered the other pictures. Yes, she thought, it's them. These beautiful people are my mother and father.
"You know, anyone could have sold this house, and anyone could have bought it. It was an open listing. Isn't it strange that I found it for you two special people?" Jesse said softly. She held her hands out to Bob and Marge. "I feel like I have a real family, again."
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