Anna stood from her writing desk. Shrugging the stiffness out of her shoulders, she padded her way down the hardwood steps into the kitchen where a steaming pot of coffee had been beckoning her. The bold aroma hinted at spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Pumpkin spice. Frank is so good to me.
As if reading her mind, Frank opened the creaky backdoor, sidling up behind her as she poured the coffee. The brisk October morning air swirled throughout the cozy kitchen giving her husband even more reason to wrap his arms around her,
“I see you found the surprise I left you,” he murmured as he kissed the back of her neck. “You’ve been writing for hours, I thought you deserved a break.”
“Franklin Martin, you spoil me!” Anna set her coffee aside to enjoy his attention. Marriage hadn’t always been this easy for them, but with their daughters both married and starting families of their own, Frank and Anna had become intentional about putting their relationship first again. They were settling into a new rhythm of life and learning to take their love both deeper and wider, which wasn’t as hard as they thought it would be after twenty-nine years of marriage.
“Well, I do have ulterior motives for luring you down here,” he confessed, still nuzzling her neck. “And it’s not what you think.”
Growing more serious, Frank let go of his wife and pulled out two chairs from the worn farmhouse table, motioning for her to sit.
“You know how we’ve been planning that trip to Tahiti over Christmas to celebrate our anniversary? Well, I don’t think that’s going to work after all.”
Anna couldn’t hide her disappointment, and she begged her tears not to come.
“Sweetheart, don’t cry.” He took her hands in his. “It’s just not the right time.”
“It’s never the right time.” Anna took a deep breath, trying to muster up enough resolve to keep it together as she stared into her coffee. “Tomorrow is our thirtieth wedding anniversary, Frank. Thirty years. We got married at the courthouse because it wasn’t the right time to have a wedding. We never went on a honeymoon because it wasn’t the right time to spend that kind of money. We never renewed our vows because it wasn’t the right time with having the kids and all. But now, Frank? Now? If there’s ever been a right time, it’s now!”
His silence was deafening and when she met his gaze, she was surprised to see he was smiling. After all these years, his smile still made butterflies dance in her belly. It unnerved her to the point that a giggle escaped.
“Stop smiling at me.” Anna forced a mock frown while stifling her giggles, grabbing a kitchen towel from the table and swatting him. “I’m mad at you. And those dimples are not going to help you this time.”
“These dimples always help me, and you know it.” Frank stole the towel, wrapped it behind her and used it to pull her close. “Besides, you’re not going to stay mad at me for long.”
“Frank, what are you up to? You know how much I was looking forward to Tahiti. We both were.”
Leaning forward, Frank kissed her lightly, then bent down on one knee.
“Sweetheart, you have given up so much for me and the kids over the years and you’re right – you didn’t get the wedding you deserved. Or the honeymoon. Or the vow renewals. But that’s all about to change today.” Pulling a ring from his dusty flannel shirt pocket, he added, “Anna Martin, would you make me the happiest man in the world and marry me tonight?”
Before Anna could form a response, her daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren spilled into the kitchen. Tears trickled from her eyes as she took in the sight of those she loved most in the world gathered around her, bearing witness to this gracious display of love.
“Say yes, Grammy!” shouted six-year-old Savannah. “Marry Grampy so I can wear my new flower girl dress.”
Laughter rang throughout the kitchen as Anna welcomed each family member with a warm embrace and a question she desperately wanted answered: “What on Earth is going on?”
Natalie, their oldest daughter, reached for Anna’s hand. “Mama, if you’ll come upstairs with me, I believe a wedding gown is waiting in your room.”
“Yes, and you’d better hurry because the barn will be filled with your friends in a few hours.” Their youngest daughter, Sarah, squeezed Anna’s other hand.
“But first you must say yes.” Frank held out the ring once more.
Anna looked around the room, wanting to memorize every detail of the moment. Her family. The scent of pumpkin coffee. The dish towel now laying haphazardly on the floor. Frank in that old gray flannel, showing off those boyish dimples. This was love.
After Anna slipped into an ivory lace gown, her daughters and granddaughters led her out to the barn filled with those she loved most in the world. Amber lights twinkled across the yard and baskets of crimson mums flanked the open barn doors, welcoming their guests. Trays of hot apple cider and mulled wine sat perched on top of barrels in the far corner of the barn while pumpkins and a cascade of autumn foliage accented the wooden arch that covered them while they renewed their vows.
Anna laid her head against Frank’s chest as they danced in the glow of candlelight. “I wouldn’t trade my life with you for anything in the world.”
“Good.” He kissed her forehead. “I meant what I said, though. Christmas isn’t the time for Tahiti. We should be here with the kids and grandkids. They would miss us too much.”
“You’re right. I don’t want to spend Christmas without our beautiful family.”
“I’m glad we agree.” Frank spun her around and dipped her low, kissing her on the nose. “We leave for Tahiti tomorrow. Happy anniversary, Sweetheart.”
Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, or her website.