From the Relief Society Magazine, June 1960 –
You’ll Always Be Rich
Betty Lou Martin
Margo Hanseen stood by the living room window which overlooked the valley. A wave of love surged through her being as it always did when she gazed at her valley. To her, the majestic mountains rising in the distance and the beautiful fields stretching before her, meant warmth and security. She always felt a sense of well-being, as if she were coming home after having been away a long time.
Spring was coming to the valley. It was in the air everywhere. The birds chirped the message all along the way. The cows in the pasture bellowed contentedly, and the ducks down by the stream quacked the happy news to the world. A wonderful time to be alive, thought Margo as she finished dusting the living room, and then went to the front door.
“My, it’s warm enough today to leave the door open for awhile,” Margo mused. The clean, fresh air of spring spread through the house, and Margo stood in the doorway drinking it in. She gazed down at the path that led to the barn and saw her husband Jed and her sixteen-year-old son Randy coming toward the house. She knew that they, too, were experiencing the wonder and beauty of an early spring day.
“What time do you expect Susan’s train to be in?” John inquired. “We don’t want to miss our little girl. My goodness, Margo, do you realize that it has been five years since we have seen her?”
“I know, dear,” Margo said, half to herself and half to Jed. Margo felt the same bewilderment overcome her as it had earlier when she was dusting and cleaning. Would Susan accept them? After all, she had been living in Europe for the past four years. The Hanseens had never had many of the material things in life, but they had been blessed with a richness of spirituality and love for one another. They knew how to find joy in life through giving of themselves to others. They each shared a love for God and were thankful for the opportunity that they had of serving him.
Margo had brought Susan up to appreciate and love God, as she had brought up her other three children to do the same. their oldest daughter, Joan, had married and lived on the other side of the valley. Their son Jim had built himself a home a half mile from them and was content to help Jed with the farming. Randy was still in school; however, after a mission and college, he, too, wanted to settle down close to his folks.
When Susan Hanseen had married Tony Cartwright, Margo’s fear had begun to develop. She liked Tony very much, but, after all, he had come from a family of considerable wealth. The Hanseens had very little in common with the Cartwrights. When Mrs. Cartwright had first come to visit the Hanseens, she hadn’t seemed to relax, and Margo found herself on edge, too, although she had never had any difficulty making people feel at ease before.
Susan had been living in Europe since her marriage, where Tony had a high position representing the Government. Now Susan was coming home for a visit. Margo hoped and prayed with all her might that Susan would not have changed. The past five years the farm had just barely paid its way. The family still drove the same car, had the same furniture, and the same old radio that had to be hit on the side to make it play. The only new addition was the television set, which was the pride of the family. They did not believe in going in debt. If they did not have the money to buy, then they waited until they did.
As Margo dressed to go to meet Susan’s train, she thought of all the royalty and titled people and officials that had entertained Susan and Tony. Once again the icy hand of fear gripped her. she looked at her gray suit. It was old. She had bought it just before Susan was married, but it was clean and neatly pressed. She looked at herself again in the mirror. She was only slightly plumper, and her dark brown hair was streaked here and there with gray. Yes, after all, she was five years older. “Are you ready, Jed?” Margo called to her husband. “We don’t want to be late.”
Jed walked into the room, and Margo looked at her husband with love. If only we could have afforded him a new suit. I can get by with my clothes, but his are getting so old. Susan can’t help but remember that suit. Margo kept these thoughts to herself. She did not want her husband to think that he looked shabby. She wouldn’t hurt his feelings for anything in the world.
When Randy entered the room, Margo felt very proud of her good-looking son. he carried himself proud and straight, and his clean-cut features only added to his immaculate appearance. ‘Oh, Randy, Susan won’t know you; you have grown up so much.” Margo gave her son a loving pat as she straightened his collar.
Margo took one last look around as she pulled the door shut. She had done her best to have the house in order. It was neat and clean; the rest would depend upon Susan.
The drive to the city relaxed Margo somewhat as the beauty of the valley spread before her. Then, as they approached the station, her uneasiness began to come back. Jed, sensing her dilemma, reached for her hand and held it gently in his.
“Margo,” Jed spoke softly, “I know how uneasy you are about meeting Susan. You are worried that she will not accept us for what we are. But remember this, she knows what we are, how we live, and we cannot change our lives just to please her. she must accept us the way we are. we accept and love her the way she is, just as we do our other children.”
Margo smiled up at Jed. “I know it, dear. It is just that a little farm in the middle of a little valley may seem insignificant compared to the places that she has been and the things that she has done.”
The train pulled into the station on schedule, and a beautiful, smiling Susan ran from the train into the arms of her parents. “Let me look at you. Oh, you are just the same as when I left, except you, Randy. My goodness, how you have grown.” Susan stood back now, surveying her family.
Margo felt stunned by her daughter’s remark – “You are just the same as when I left.” How does she mean it? Margo wondered to herself.
“You look wonderful, Susan,” Margo said sincerely to her lovely daughter. Susan was even more striking than ever with her golden blond hair combed smartly back into a French twist.
Susan hugged Margo again as they started for the car. “You look wonderful, Mother. I do like that suit on you.”
As they drove toward the farm, Susan chatted excitedly about the plane trip over, the parties she had attended, and the people she had met. When they reached the farm, she jumped out of the car and ran toward the house. When Margo went inside, she didn’t see Susan. She needs a few minutes to herself to look around, Margo thought as she went to the kitchen to prepare supper. Soon she heard Susan coming down the stairs, and when she turned around she was startled. Susan was dressed in a plain pink cotton skirt and blouse. Her golden hair waved loosely to her shoulders, and her lips were just barely touched with pink lipstick. She looked very much like the same happy Susan who loved spring in the valley, and cried when the old mother cat died.
“Oh, Mother, the place hasn’t changed a bit,” Susan spoke as she went to the cookie jar. “Hmmm, my favorite cookies, I see.”
“No, Susan, things haven’t changed too much. I guess that we seem to have stood still after all the places that you have lived and the many interesting people that you have met.” Margo felt her heart sink.
Susan got up and went to the kitchen window. “Spring in the valley; how I have dreamed about it. Tony wanted me to wait and come home in the summer, but I just had to see my valley in the spring. Remember when I was a little girl how I used to wake up real early and run to the window to see if it was spring?”
“Yes, I remember, Susan,” Margo sighed, remembering. “Those were wonderful years. We are not very rich, dear, but …”
“Oh, Mother,” Susan chided as she stood directly in front of her mother, “you’ll always be rich. maybe not in the things of the world, but in the things that really and truly count. I just hope that I can instill in my children the things that you and Daddy have tried to teach me. And I hope that I can make my children as happy as you have made me. I know that Jim, Joan, and Randy feel the same as I do.”
Margo flung her arms around her daughter. “Oh, Susan, I was so afraid that you would change and grow away from us.”
“Change? Grow away from you?” Susan was crying as she spoke. “Why the very day that I left, Tony made the remark that he hoped you would save a little space for us so that we, too, could build here some day.”
Margo and Susan dried their eyes and together they walked down toward the barnyard, and Cuddles, the little terrier, trotted happily beside them. He was glad that Susan was home, too.