Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Love Story, Part 4

Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here

“It’s called ‘money,’” Ben’s brother Sam joked with me about the smell, “and these are money boots.” He pointed affectionately at the tall rubber boots splattered in manure. “And this is a money truck,” with a wave towards an old truck that was decorated in a similar fashion, and banned forever to the premises of the dairy because of the smell.

Ben showed me around the dairy like a kid in a candy shop, getting a real kick out of my incompetence. “These are the milking machines you stick on the cows’ udders,” Ben smiled as we stood behind a row of cows with their behinds turned directly towards us.
“Oh yeah my dad used to milk cows as a kid. I always wanted to try it,” I said sheepishly, trying to think of anything that might make me sound like I knew what I was talking about.
Ben laughed. “Well on a dairy this size we don’t milk cows by hand, but you can give it a try. Here squeeze this and pull down.”
“You want me to touch THAT?” the smell was starting to get to me. And what if I got kicked? Maybe this wasn’t something I wanted to try after all. I did, however, “squeeze and pull” so now I can officially say I milked a cow.

“This calf was just born yesterday,” Ben glanced at a bow-legged calf standing in a small square stall. “You want to try feeding it?”
“Sure,” I said nervously. Armed with my “money boots” and a glass bottle with a rubber pink nipple, I entered the stall and gave my best attempt at feeding the calf.
“Over there is a cow giving birth,” Ben pointed to a cow with a calf half-sticking out its hind regions.
“I couldn’t tell,” I said flatly, but grossed out inside by the “nature” taking place all around me that Ben seemed so familiar with.

The “money truck” was a stick. “You want to drive it?” Ben asked.
I smiled. “You’d have to teach me. I’ve never driven a stick.”
“No problem.”
In his gentle, humorous way he explained the gears to me and how to start. I gave it a go. It was a rough start, but I got going and cracked a big smile.
“This is easy!” I laughed.
“Slow down! You’re going to run us off the road!” Ben joked. “Good thing we’re only on the dairy!”
I whipped us around and we laughed and joked around like kids as we bounced up and down the dirt roads.

Church was at a tiny tiny branch of about 12 people in Havana, Illinois. I beamed. This was home. Any man who was comfortable here would be comfortable with me for the rest of his life.

Our short jaunt across the Mississippi ended and it was back to school and work. That Friday, March 27th, 2009, I knew Ben had the ring, he could never keep a secret. I would later find out he was so nervous to have it and risk losing it that he wanted to be “rid of it” as soon as possible.

That evening for our regular date he was late. An hour late. I may have been more than I touch annoyed, but I put on a brave face. Once we got out to the truck, he handed me a blue paisley blindfold. Like I said, Ben is very transparent.

We drove and drove and it started getting cold. Where were we?! He sounded like he might be lost. But finally we slowed to a stop. He helped me out of the truck with my blindfold still on. I could tell we were in a parking lot. I was instructed to take off the blindfold.

There before my eyes was Ben with the ring box open, down on one knee. In front of us was the beautiful gleaming white Draper Utah Temple where we planned to be married. “You are so amazing. I can’t imagine my life with anyone else. Will you marry me?”

I smiled and looked around. This was my moment. This was the moment you dream about as a little girl. The moment you see in movies and hope someday to experience yourself. And here I was experiencing it! It all felt surreal. “Yes!” I beamed. Ben bounded up and we embraced and kissed. And the ring, it was perfect.

That night as we drove home, Ben put on the CD he had so painstakingly made for me (the reason he had been late), with every song a description of his love for me, how he felt about me. We held hands and I felt the secure feeling of the ring on my finger. We giddily talked about the future and our life together. The future was so bright, and our love for each other so full.

When we entered the enclosed area of our apartment complex I grinned wildly and held up my left hand for all to see. “Are you ENGAGED??!!” People shouted. “Ben and Ashley are engaged!!”

Read the end here


  1. So MUCH fun! I've enjoyed reading your "Love Story." It's kind of crazy to think that we were experiencing some of the same things at the same time and yet it seems we were worlds apart - caught up in our own little world. ;) I remember you showing me your ring. It IS beautiful!

  2. such cute stories! i loved it all!