(for the Belgian Wonder, on the occasion of our 19th wedding anniversary)Merci, Belgique,Pour tes bicyclettesHe salvaged tires,A chain, gears,Handlebars,And a frameFrom three different bikes,Maybe more.Piecing it all together,He painted it blackAnd pedaled down canalsFor milesThrough the countrysidePast fields of sugar beetsOr flew downhillRumbling over cobblestonesPast the churchToward the town squareTo buy fritesFrom the friterie. Merci pour tes voitures et tes camions…Thank you for the diesel trucksParked behind the print shop;Vehicles abandoned,Saved only for parts.No one imagined he could get one to run.But he did.He shifted gearsAnd learned to steerIn the sand and dirtOf the vacant lot.Merci pour tes maisons…Thank you for his attic bedroomIn the tall brick houseWhere rent was affordableAs long as his familyCleaned pews of the church next doorAnd polished its wood floorsAnd stairsAnd shoveled coalTo fire the stoveSo the sanctuary was warmSunday mornings.In the summerHe painted the church ceilingAnd wallsAnd mowed its grassAnd picked fruit—Apples, pears, plums, cherries—And climbed treesIn the small orchard.He played ping-pongIn the church social hallAnd soccer in the yard.Merci pour ton histoire, tes écoles…While riding to school on a city bus,He passed a castle, maybe two.Sitting in math and physicsHe could see the Butte du Lion,Rising up from the Waterloo battlefields.The heavy course loadOf classes without textbooks,Demanded attentiveness to detail.Lectures taught him to listen.Testing required diligence—Traits I admired from the start.Diligent,He solves problemsAnd servesAnd works until a job is done.Attentive,He noticesAnd listensAnd remembers. Merci pour ta nourriture…Down the street,He bought breadAt the boulangerie,Snitching a slice en route.He grew upInhaling the aromaOf Belgian chocolateWafting from the factoryDown the street.He ate your gaufres,Sipped your beer,And drank your coffee.Merci pour la langue française.Thank you for the languageThat sounds like violins and cellos,Or a stream slipping smoothlyOver stones.Without even trying,He spoke; I swooned.Merci, Belgique;Merci beaucoups.Thank you, Belgium.Thank you so muchFor influencing the manWho chose me;Who loves me.Thank you for taking care of the manWho takes care of me.This is offered as part of the HighCallingBlogs Love Stories project. To read more Love Stories, click HERE and scroll to the bottom.
Friterie, Castle, Lion of Waterloo, and the Belgian-Wonder-on-Scooter photos © 2005 by Ann Kroeker.Bread and Sugar Beet Field photos © 2008 by Ann Kroeker.
Concept of addressing a place to honor a person: HT to Corinne of Trains, Tutus and Twizzlers with her love letter to Salem.
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This was breathtaking Ann! I want to sit and read this over and over… just lovely.
You are too kind…I had good material to work with. Belgium was good to him; and consequently, good to me, too.
absolutely lovely. Happy Anniversary!
Thank you, Pattie! We’re going to feast on Italian food tonight, but after writing this, I wonder if we ought not slip over to the Belgian restaurant instead?
Your gift with words is beautiful! Happy Anniversary!
Thank you, “Mommy”!
Missy K says
How delightful and moving– celebration and present in one!
Thanks for your comment–I should write another one thanking his parents, who are the ones truly to thank. He is who he is not only because of where he grew up but also because of whose family he was part of. They nurtured his faith.
Kathleen Overby says
Have you been there since, with him, Ann? Frites, the little fork, the mayo – Crave them. Nothing like them. I loved the ingenuity of putting together scraps for a bike. He’s a keeper. 🙂
Hi, Kathleen! Yes, we’ve been back many times, even with the kids. The photos above are all photos I took in Belgium–in 2005 or 2008. I LOVE the frites! Did you click on the photo to see the little fork and dipping sauce? I love Andalouse sauce.
That’s a good story. I’m pretty sure that I smelled your post, which is a really good thing. Then I craved the food and drink in the frites picture. Then I had to repent for coveting and desiring to be a glutton. Then I thought, “oh well, it’s Fat Tuesday, and I’m cutting some things out tomorrow, so why not want today.”
A good post gets the mind moving.
You may be the only one who clicked on the photos!!
You can’t have expected me not to click on words that translated “waffles,” “fries,” “bread,” and “bear.” I am a strong man, Ann Kroeker, but not that strong.
Alas, not that strong.
Oh, I meant beer.
See what I mean.
No bears in Belgium…but lots of beer! (You made me laugh because I didn’t even see it–my brain automatically swapped out the “a” for an “e”.)
Happy, Blessed Anniversary Ann! I loved this post. It touched something I’ve been struggling with in my mother heart.
Our daughter has fallen in love with France and spends nearly half her time there. She is beginning to fall in love with a young man there, and I find I am having a little bit of a difficult time….thinking of her living so far from home permanently.
Somehow – reading this has made me feel better. Thank you for the beautiful words and for sharing the beauty of your feelings for your husband and the place he grew up.
Linda, your feelings give me some insight into how my mother-in-law must feel having her son so far away from home. I do wish we could all live closer.
I’m very glad that my tribute to my husband, which was with a grateful heart for all that Belgium gave him, could help you somehow…when I fell in love with my husband, I could embrace his homeland, as well.
Thank you for sharing a glimps into your heart! Your love for your Belgium Wonder always leaves me with a smile! What a blessing.
I like Belgium…but I love the Belgian Wonder!
Christy B. says
Beautiful! I really enjoyed that and could almost smell the bread and chocolate!
Very nice. Lovely post.
self sagacity says
Hi Ann, thanks for your sweet comments, I think that’s very nice of you to take the time to explain. I am getting better at linking and posting everyday, but will holler if I need help next time for sure. 🙂
I love your poem, Ann, it is so much “him”, fixing bikes and learning to drive the wrecks behind the print shop, the problem solving and listening… I clicked on all the pictures too. I will have to join that Belgian waffles group.
Beautiful! Happy (late) anniversary, Ann and BW!