He may have only been four or five years old, but he remembered Miss Evalina as clear as day.

She wasn’t unkind, she wasn’t snappy, she was just firm.

Single, old before her time, she suffered her grumpy mother like a saint.

Really, her mother was a pistol.  Now, that one was unkind, and that one was snappy.

And she was selfish too.

Missionaries came to the little church on the creek like clockwork. The Pastor had them preach, tell the story of the heathens in foreign lands that needed the gospel and took UP a love offering for each and every one.

It was never much.

But it was a sacrifice

And it was always appreciated.

One October evening, a tall, blonde young man showed UP at the church on the creek in a beat UP car that had not only seen better days, but better decades.  As it sputtered into the gravel parking lot, heads turned to see from whence the racket came.

The boy stopped a few seconds after he turned the key off and the man unfolded himself from the driver’s seat, shook the wrinkles out of his slacks and put his worn and shiny jacket on.

He shook hands all around and as luck would have it, Miss Evalina was in the queue headed to the church – she was the pianist after all, she was always there.

She would tell his mother as she consoled her it was love at first sight.  His Mother being a realist put that on the shelf with the other things she wasn’t buying, but was savvy enough to realize that whether at first sight or not, Miss Evalina was in love.

He listened from the other room as she sat on the couch with mother in the living room spilling her sad tale of woe.

It was her mother.  She was relentless, no child of hers was going to the mission field, no, there was no way she was marrying that young man, no matter how consecrated and godly he was.

Miss Evalina was staying home.

And taking care of her mother.

The young man left, went to the foreign land and did missionary work there for over 30 years.

He came home from time to time to raise funds, but always found an excuse to miss the little church by the creek.  The excuses seemed valid enough for sure, but everyone knew the real reason.

It was Miss Evalina.

He was still in love, and knew she was as well.

Finally the day came when the mission board called him back for good.  There comes a time they said, that health, age, and service have served their time, and he had to return.

Never having a home all those years and not knowing many people he cared for, he came back to the little church on the creek.

It may have been three decades, but Miss Evalina was unmistakable as she sat at the piano and played the hymns she knew by heart and no longer needed a book she could no longer see to play.

He realized then, he’d never fallen out of love with Miss Evalina.

He wondered if she would remember him.

The wedding took place two short weeks later.  Miss Evalina’s mother was no longer there to object.  The mission field was no longer calling, and it was time for the missionary and Miss Evalina to be in love.

Sadly, the little boy was no longer there to see the story, but he heard about it.

Often.