Thursday, June 12, 2008

The mustard story

I have a friend who I met years ago at the school where I'm employed. She's the parent of one of my son's best friends. And then she and I became friends.
Every Christmas, I receive gifts from the children at school, and all the teachers do as well, and every year, my friend Kathy would send in a gift with one of her sons to give to me. And after we became friends ourselves, she added a gift of her own just for me. One year, it was a jar of mustard.
"Mustard?" I thought, as I opened the beautifully wrapped present. "Well, that's odd. And ooooo, it's gourmet." And life went on.
It wasn't until later when I saw her over the holidays and thanked her for her gift of um, mustard, that I found out why she had given it to me. And she said it was because she was so touched by the story I'd shared with her recently about my husband, and the mustard.
I scrunched up my face trying to remember what story she was talking about, and in the recesses of my brain, finally . . . it came back to me. I must have been drinking wine with her one evening, and shared something personal that normally, I would not have done. But we were becoming friends, and ever since then . . . ever since she gave me that mustard, she's been on my list as one of my favorite people. And it wasn't because of the thoughtful condiment, either. It was because she was touched by a story I had told her. And now that I'm not so shy about sharing anymore, I'm telling it here.
Besides, I'm all about the stories.
I've mentioned before that my husband and I have been together since we were both 19 years old. But, at one point, for reasons that I won't go into here, we separated when the boys were very young. I packed up my things, and the children, and got an apartment and a lawyer (although not in that order). And life was difficult, and I was very poor. We both were, actually. I had a good job as a production manager for a monthly horse publication, but it didn't leave much for things like, well, food. I remember having very little in my frig, and moving it all up to the front to make it look more full. And I used to add water to the orange juice to make it last longer. I had enough to pay the rent, and the day care for the children, and the gas for my car, but grocery shopping was sad. And the court-ordered check I received from my husband helped, but still, it wasn't enough.
My husband saw the children every other weekend, and I'm sure they don't remember much about that time. I know my youngest son was excited to be living in a real town, that had sewers as he was hoping to see the Ninja Turtles climb out of one of the manhole covers. My eldest son was in kindergarten at the time, so he probably doesn't remember that much anyway. Like I said, it was for about a year, and things began to get better and we worked things out.
One day, while grocery shopping, I was adding up the dollars and cents I was spending. I had my list and on the list was mustard. And the French's mustard was on sale for 83 cents. But I really really disliked French's mustard (still do). I wanted the Grey Poupon, but it was so much more and I didn't have the extra dollar to spend on it. But oh, how I wanted it. And I was so darn tired of being poor and having to shop this way. And as I stood there in the condiment aisle, it all came crashing down. The children weren't with me at the time, which was a good thing, because I was slowly losing it. I mean, it wasn't just about the mustard. It was about this point I was making, and the respect I deserved, and the great lengths I was going to just to get that. And as I stood there, I quietly began to cry.
Luckily, no one was around, but then I felt this hand on my shoulder and a familiar voice asking me, "what's wrong?" And I turned around, and standing there before me was my husband. And now, completely embarrassed, I mumbled something about it being nothing. There was nothing wrong. "No, it's not nothing," he said, "what's really wrong?" And I told him I wanted the nice mustard, and I hate French's. "I know you do," he said.
I wiped my eyes, and made to go, but he stopped me again and gave me twenty dollars. And he said, "Here. I want you to get your mustard. And whatever else you need." And he kissed me on the cheek and he left. And as I watched him go, I realized that this was love. And that I still loved him. And then, in a split second, I thought, "Hey, why does he have an extra twenty dollars?" No, I'm kidding.
That day in the grocery store was the turning point, and eventually we got back together. Marriage is tough, and it's tender, and sometimes it's a lot of work. But I'm glad that he's still around. Those who know our situation know exactly what I mean.
And that, my friends, is the mustard story.
I'm still on the road trip, and I had this little story tucked back in my draft files. I'm sure I'm having fun wherever I am and I'll be back soon. Take care, my friends.
Sincerely, Country Girl

23 comments:

Hilary said...

What a tender story, Kate. You brought a tear to my eye. I can see why your friend is so dear to you.

Beckynsc said...

You shouldn't make people cry so early in the morning! Stop it, I'm trying to get ready for work, darn it.
That was a great story! The mustard and the friend.

Momma said...

It must be nice to know that someone was actually listening when you shared that very personal, very touching story. What a great gift! Not only did you get gourmet mustard, you got the gift of knowing you have a friend.

Peace - D

Mental P Mama said...

That is a wonderful story...3 kleenexes. What a triumph for you both.

Miriam Lovell Dyer said...

Great post, Kate. Thanks for sharing that. It makes me appreciate my fridge... and my husband.

Treasia said...

What a sweet touching story Kate. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Debra (a/k/a Doris, Mimi) said...

I'm a sucker for happy endings. This was bold of you to share so openly about something that is very personal. It isn't until we give our trust to others that we can say "Hey! I've been there too!" What marriage hasn't had its ups and downs? Thank you so much for sharing. I have been a faithful reader of your blog, but never commented until now. Thank you! I can see why you make friends easily.

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Strange, isn't it, how our lives turn on such small things. Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us. - :::misty-eyed in Arkansas:::

dlyn said...

I don't tear up very easily, but you got me but good with this one. And not just because I love dijon mustard either. :)

noble pig said...

That is honestly the most tender love story I have ever heard.

Laura said...

Dammit, you got me crying, literally. I really needed to read this today. It's been a bad, bad week. I know every relationship has its ups and downs, and we're downdowndown right now. So, thanks for the hope.

Anonymous said...

Kate, what a beautiful story. I'm so glad you decided to share with us. It was a "Hallmark" story, for sure. Your friend sounds so special, it's so good to know that some friends actually listen. smile, cathy

Julianna said...

That's greatness. Make sure your husband reads it, too, or at least knows how loved he made you feel that day.

Don Mills Diva said...

Oh my goodness that is a beautiful story - I love it.

Just discovered your blog and I love it too!

Egghead said...

I DO know what you mean and I am sitting here with a lump in my throat. This was a truly beautiful story and how sweet that your friend knew just what to give you. Appreciate the days.

Mary said...

Oh Lord, tears in my eyes here. Thanks for the sweet story. Hope you are enjoying your holiday, and taking lots of pics.
xoxo,
Mary

TSannie said...

What a lovely lovely story. And such a testament to staying power. Nice, Kate, so very nice!

Pony Girl said...

Oh, I only love Grey Poupon, too!!
This was such a nice story. It gives me hope in marriage, that's for sure. So many people just give up. You two were meant to have that moment in the grocery store, to reconnect. I am sure you are stronger because of your seperation.

Shimmy Mom said...

What a beautiful story. I'm glad you aren't shy about sharing any more. I'll never look at mustard the same again. (I like the good mustard too, French's is blech!)

Ashley said...

I really liked the mustard story. I prefer grey poupon too!!! It is so much more yummier. I'm glad you know love when you feel it.

"JEANNELLE" said...

Really lovely story. Kind of reminds of that Rupert Holmes song, "Escape". Not quite the same, but similar.....

Hope you're having a great time on the road!

brneyedgal967 said...

Lovely. Such a lovely, sweet, and tender moment. Glad you got your mustard - and the guy back.

27 Again said...

Oh, Kate.

How, how is it that life in all its mystery sometimes gives us the most amazing gift at just the right time?

What a profound coincidence - or not? - that he was there, and caring, and could help, right when it mattered so much.

I was craving my daily fix of your blog and since you are clearly hard at work on editing photos and it will be up any minute, yep, any minute now...I checked your archives. I've been meaning to read the mustard story.

What a treat.
And oh, yes, just like everybody else...mascara down the cheeks.

hug,
Katie