For the entire month of February, 2014, snow covered every section of my cattle ranch and that of neighboring ranches. Feed for the farm animals was running low, and no grass was available in the snow covered pastures. Searching for my cattle, I found several of my young calves had already frozen to death, and the remainder of my cattle was in danger of freezing and starving. I called my neighboring farmers and the Farmer’s Federation seeking help and comfort, but their circumstances were similar, and though we talked and were sympathetic to each other’s plight, no solutions came forward. Roads were impassable, snow, ice, and freezing temperatures plagued the entire region so feed for the cattle was almost nonexistent. I was spending twelve to fifteen hours a day trying to find stray cattle and drive them to the barn for food, shelter and safety.
I often called my nearest neighbor, Betty Jean Brown, who had lost her husband several years earlier, to see how she was fairing. She also called me, but together we could think of no solutions. Due to my having lost my wife the previous winter, I looked forward to Betty’s calls and I think she looked forward to my calling her. Though we had both lost our spouses, we had never as much as had lunch together. I often saw her at church and other community meetings, but we never more than spoke to one another. On one call to her, feeling low and overwhelmed, I told Betty, “if we survive this freezing weather, I want to invite you over for dinner one night.” Betty answered, “And, I’ll take you up on your offer.” We both laughed together for the first time ever, and for the first time, I felt a romantic affection for her.
On March 1, 2014, I awoke to see the sun shining for the first time in a month. During the day, the temperature shot up from freezing to almost fifty degrees. Snow melted enough that hay could be delivered by the Farmer’s Federation. Cattle were able to reach the barn and feed on the freshly delivered hay. For the first time in over a month, I was able to stay in my house and rest, though still alone.
I was telephoning my neighbors, and as we laughed together and thanked God for the sunshine and rise in temperature, for the melting snow and newly delivered hay, when I heard a knock on my door. Opening the door, I was greeted by my neighbor, Betty, who said, “I know you’re not expecting me, but you did invite me to dinner if we survived this freezing weather. Due to a tree falling just up the road from my house, my power and telephone are out,” and laughing sheepishly, she said, “I knew you were trying to reach me, so here I am. I brought over two steaks from a calf I had to butcher due to its freezing. If you have a fire in the stove, we’ll cook these steaks for dinner.”
Though, Ms. Betty Brown was not expected, she was a welcome sight and for the first time, even wearing her work clothes and boots, I noticed how beautiful she looked. I fired up the old wood stove, and together we cooked a dinner fit for a king. The steak, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and homemade biscuits would have been the envy of even Donald Trump.
After dinner, the temperature began dropping. We called Betty’s house and the telephone was still out of order so we assumed the power was also still out. I invited Betty to spend the night and she agreed. As we sat and talked, I popped some popcorn, poured us each a glass of wine, with a sliver of cheese. At the end of the night, I asked her to marry me and our lives were changed forever.