Bryson City Seasons — Wise Counsel (Part 2)

This is from the eighteenth chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Seasons, which is the sequel to Bryson City TalesI hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me each week and that if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends and family to join us.


Barb took a deep breath. “As I think back over the last few years, I’m convinced that without the support of our neighbors, the Bible, and prayer, I wouldn’t have made it.”

She squeezed my hand and continued. “I’ve never really asked you, Walt. What caused you to hang on during those dark days?”

I felt my eyes misting. My wife’s faith in God had been so much stronger than mine during those years.

I thought for a moment. “Well, I think our neighbors were crucial. They gave us so much love and really helped us. Of course, our church and pastor were crucial. And most of all, Barb, I think your prayers were essential.”

Barb nodded.

“But there was something else,” I added.

“What’s that?”

“A memory from a long time ago.”

“Tell me about it,” Barb implored.

“Well, the year before my grandfather died, he sat me down in his backyard one day to talk. We sipped sweet tea and rocked in our chairs as he admired his yard and garden. ‘Walt,’ he began, ‘when you decide to get married, I want you to remember one thing.’”

“What was it?” Barb asked.

“He told me that the part of the wedding vow that says ‘till death do we part’ means divorce is not an option. He told me that a marriage vow is intended to be a lifelong vow—one I’d be making to you, your parents, my parents, and the church. ‘But most important of all,’ he said, ‘you’re making a sacred vow to God.’ He told me not to make it if I didn’t mean it.”

“You’ve never told me that.”

“I know. In fact, I think I chose to forget his advice in those difficult months after Kate was born. I was so angry about her disability that it wiped out any conscious memory of his advice. So I credit our church, our wonderful neighbors, and one incredible wife for keeping our marriage from ending up on the rocks that destroy so many other marriages.”

I looked at Barb and could see tears streaking down her cheeks. I let go of her hand to reach into my pocket, and I handed her my handkerchief. She wiped her tears and then sat back and began to rock again. I knew she wanted to sit in silence for a moment.

I returned to my rocking and could see the new moon rising above the crest of the mountains across the valley.

The longer we lived together, the more I came to appreciate the incredible woman I had married. I had determined to make her tenth anniversary special indeed and had, in fact, been preparing for it for ten years thanks to another piece of advice from my grandfather—a romantic at heart—who’d been a Pullman conductor for the Illinois Central Railway’s trains that ran from Chicago to New Orleans.

Once, when Barb and I were visiting my grandmother, she showed us a shoebox full of romantic letters he had written her. He would write them on the train and mail them from the various stops along the way.

Barb interrupted my thoughts. “Walt, I thought you might take me to dinner and a romantic weekend in Asheville or to a quiet mountain bed-and-breakfast. But a cruise? How’d you make all the arrangements without me suspecting a thing?”

“R.P. and Sally did a lot of the work. Rick helped with strategy.”

“That dirty dog!”


“Rick, that’s who!”


“A few months ago he was quizzing me about our honeymoon. I told him I’d like to go back to Disney World one day, but that I’d prefer to go on a cruise. He told you, didn’t he?”

I laughed.

“So where’d you get the money, Walt? We don’t have that much, do we?”

“Well, there was another piece of advice my granddad gave me as we sat in his backyard that day.”

“What’s that?”

“He asked me if I wanted another tip. Of course, I told him I did. So he told me to start saving—the day I got married. He told me to save a little every month. To save for my tenth, twenty-fifth, and fiftieth anniversaries. He told me to look forward to them. To aim for them.”

“So have you?”

“Indeed, we have! And that account is going to cover the costs of a great trip.”

Barb suddenly stopped rocking, sat up, and looked at me. “What are we going to do with the kids?”

I chuckled. “Got it covered. We’ll drive to the Asheville airport. You and the kids have tickets to Baton Rouge. You’ll spend a couple of days with your mom and dad, leave the kids with the grandparents, and then fly to Orlando to meet me.”

“What are you going to be doing?”

“I’ve been asked to speak at the Family Medicine Residency Program. Then I’ll go down to Kissimmee to visit John and Cleta Hartman. I’ll meet you at the airport in Orlando when you arrive, and then we’re off in a limousine to the honeymoon hotel.”

“I can’t wait to start packing. I already know what I’m going to take. This is going to be so much fun!” Barb exclaimed.

I nodded, smiling because Barb didn’t even know the best part. She didn’t have a clue about what would be happening in our house while we were away.


  1. The Murder (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  2. The Arrival (Part 1)(Part 2)
  3. The Hemlock Inn (Part 1)(Part 2)
  4. The Grand Tour (Part 1)(Part 2)
  5. The Interview (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  6. Settling In (Part 1)(Part 2)
  7. First-Day Jitters (Part 1)(Part 2)
  8. Emergency (Part 1)(Part 2)
  9. The Delivery (Part 1)(Part 2)
  10. The “Expert” (Part 1)(Part 2)
  11. The Trial (Part 1)(Part 2)
  12. Shiitake Sam (Part 1)(Part 2)
  13. Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  14. Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4)
  15. White Lies
  16. The Epiphany (Part 1)(Part 2)
  17. Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1)(Part 2)
  18. Monuments (Part 1)(Part 2)
  19. My First Home Victory (Part 1)(Part 2)
  20. Fisher of Men (Part 1)(Part 2)
  21. Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
  22. Something Fishy (Part 1)(Part 2)
  23. A Good Day at the Office
  24. An Evening to Remember
  25. Another New Doc Comes to Town
  26. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1)(Part 2)
  27. A Surprising Gift
  28. The New Year (Part 1)(Part 2)
  29. The Home Birth (Part1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  30. The Showdown (Part1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  31. The Initiation (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  32. Home at Last (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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