The following Guest Post was written by our own Bart Gilbertson and was featured on the website Queen Of All She Reads.
"I remember my father telling me stories when I was a boy. They were the type of stories that always had some sort of lesson or point to them. His stories usually ended with the words, 'And the moral of the story is …'
My father was one of those tough, country boys who grew up on a farm. He was up before the sun every morning doing his chores. Then he ate some breakfast which was usually a piece of toast and a couple slices of bacon, because he was just too busy to have time to eat anything more. While he was eating his breakfast, he was doing his homework and then he was out the door and on his way. He had to walk to school, and it was in below zero degree weather – every day. The snow was swirling and blowing around him as if he had been placed inside of a snow globe that was shaken up. He had to walk uphill through this knee-deep snow … both ways. After his school years, he became a lumberjack and cut down tall trees for a living and his mighty shout of “Timber!” could be heard echoing for miles around through the hills. He could crack a walnut open with his eyelids. Yes, yes, yes. You know exactly what I am talking about. So whenever he had a story to tell, you listened, because you might be quizzed at the end of it for its practical value.
There was one story in particular that caught my attention, and it stuck with me down through the years. It was one of his best ones, in fact. I’ve always called it the story of the Gold Windows. It went a little like this…
Once upon a time (oh yes! I almost forgot. Some of his stories began with Once upon a time as well. Anyway, back to the story).
Once upon a time, there lived a good man with a loving wife, and three beautiful daughters. They lived in a small village where housing was scarce. It was so scarce, that whenever anybody moved out of a house, a new family moved in immediately. So, if anyone had to move, they made sure that it was for good. Because once they were out, they would have an almost impossible time finding a new house to live in.
One evening, the man was sitting on his front porch looking up into the hills when he noticed something that made him catch his breath. For what he saw up in those hills, was a house with gold windows. He stood up and looked around him to see if anyone else had seen the house. It seemed to him that nobody had, yet. The man realized that if they could reach the house before anyone else knew it was there, then they would become wealthy and never again would they have to worry about having a place to live. He turned his gaze back up to the hills and memorized where the house was.
The man hurriedly gathered his family together and told them what he saw. He had them pack their belongings, but only what they really needed. He wanted to be sure they got to the house of gold windows before anyone else could. Bursting with excitement, his wife and three daughters made ready to leave. The man and his family waited until it was completely dark, to make sure nobody else could see them leaving, then they began their journey into the hills under cover of the night. It took the man and his family all of the night and most of the next day to finally reach their destination. By now, others would have discovered their old home had been vacated and it would surely have a new family inside its walls.
The house with gold windows emerged before them on a small outcropping which overlooked the entire valley and the village below. With his heart racing and his eyes wide, the man smiled and ran forward. Nobody else was there. They made it. The house was theirs! As the man approached, he stopped in his tracks and his jaw dropped. It was in bad repair, broken down and with no roof. Holes were in the walls, and weeds grew where the floor used to be. But most importantly, the gold windows he saw from the village below were gone. In their place, instead of gold, he saw ordinary glass pane windows.
“What?” the man said. “How can this be? I don’t understand.”
The youngest of the man’s daughters walked up and tugged on his sleeve. The man looked down at her with saddened eyes.
“Daddy, look!” she said and pointed to the village in the valley below.
He turned and looked down to where she was pointing, and every single house in the village had gold windows. Including the house they had just left the night before. As the sun set for another day, reflecting off the windows, the gold was washed away.
And the moral of the story is … well, I think we can all appreciate what this story is telling us.
My cozy mystery novel, “Deathbed & Breakfast,” is not one of those types of tales. However, it is a fun, light read that will have you turning pages and guessing ‘whodunit’ to the final page. I hope you enjoy reading it every bit as much as I enjoyed writing it!