Hello, Ms. Mayfield.
Good afternoon. It’s Mrs. Mayfield. I was married for sixty-one years. You may call me Naomi. Have a seat there. Let me just set down this mess off peas and get us the lemonade and cookies I made earlier.
Thank you. These cookies are delicious. Sixty-one years. That’s a long marriage. What’s your secret?
There’s no magic formula, but if I had to choose one thing, I’d say respect. I had a great deal of respect for my husband, and I always felt he respected me, too. It’s important to choose a husband you respect and admire.
So tell me, Naomi, how long have you lived at this ranch?
I was born here. This ranch has been in my family for seven generations now. My brother died in World War II, and so I was the only family left. My husband and I ran it together.
How did you meet your husband?
I met him at college. Not too many women went to college in those days, but after my brother died, my parents decided that I should. I studied English literature. It was the first time I’d even been away from home, and I was feeling a little homesick, so I wandered over to the dairy to see the cows. It was primarily an agricultural college, you see, and there was a working dairy right on campus.
There was a man there running the milking machines by himself. He asked what I was doing there, and I told him I missed the cows, and he laughed. I wasn’t supposed to be there, but he said I could stay. Pretty soon, I was helping him with the milking and we got to talking. He was a student, too, studying agriculture.
He had plans to go back to his family’s farm along with his brothers, but by the time we graduated, we had decided to get married, and my father’s health wasn’t good, so we came here to the ranch instead of his farm. We never regretted it.
Are you still operating the ranch, or have you turned it over to the next generation?
I’m still in charge. I have a good foreman, but I make sure he runs all important decisions by me first. It doesn’t do to give a man too much rein. My boys aren’t in ranching. I could tell from the time they were small they were destined for bigger things. Travis was plenty smart, but Ben, who’s three years younger, was reading his brother’s books by the time he was three. I decided early on that those two should start a business of their own.
And they agreed?
Yes they did, not that I gave them a choice. Their father and I invested a good part of our savings into their education and startup costs, and it’s paid off very well for all of us. Now they’ve sold the company and retired, but neither of them is interested in taking up ranching at this stage of their lives.
You must be proud of your sons.
I am, mostly. They’ve done well in business. Travis has a fine wife and family too. In fact, I have high hopes that his youngest son, Adam, will take over the ranch sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Now Ben’s done well in the business, too, but his personal life is a mess. I tell you, he’s smart as a whip, but he’s shown no sense at all when it comes to women. He drove the few good ones away, and keeps attaching himself to pretty little leeches. It’s not as though he has to settle – that man could charm the birds out of the trees, but he just can’t seem to pick a good woman.
How many times has he been married?
Six, officially. I hardly count some of them as marriage; they barely had time to write thank-you notes for the wedding presents before they were filing for divorce. Now his first wife is a fine woman. He treated her shamefully, and yet she never tried to punish him by limiting his time with his daughter. She and I still keep in touch. He had one other good wife, but the others were mostly a waste of skin, even if it was pretty skin.
Have you given up on him?
Not at all. Just lately, he’s shown a little progress. This last time he got restless, instead of finding a worthless girl to chase after, he decided to travel across the country. I’m hoping that now that he has time to reflect, he’ll choose the next one a little more wisely.
So you think he’ll find another wife?
I’m almost sure of it. In spite of his failures, Ben loves women. I wouldn’t be surprised if he brings another wife home from this trip, along with postcards and souvenirs. I just hope he does it right this time.
So you think a person can find marital happiness even after six failed marriages?
I don’t see why not. I learned how to work the computer after my husband died three years ago. If I can learn email, surely Ben can learn to choose a good wife and treat her well. Never give up hope.
That’s good advice. Thank you for talking with me today, Naomi, and for the lemonade and cookies.
You’re quite welcome. You write it up, and send me the link. See how I spouted off that computer jargon? Goodbye, and come again.
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About the Author: When Beth Carpenter was a little girl, she read everything she could get her hands on, and entertained herself on the school bus by making up stories in her head. She’s still at it, but now her reading material appears magically on a tablet, and the stories on her head get published. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska and Prescott, Arizona with her husband and an aggressively affectionate fifty-pound lap dog. She loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her at BethCarpenter2012@gmail.com, or see her blog www.BethCarpenterBooks.blogspot.com.
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