February 5, 2021

Robert and Harriett

Robert and Harriett

Harriett usually had a very sober appearance in her young photos—that is, until she fell in love! As she told it, there was a farm auction in their community one Saturday and everyone took a picnic lunch and made a party of it. A new family had recently moved there—the Hursts.  Harriett went to the party with a young man she’d been seeing.

A few nights earlier, Harriett said she’d had a puzzling dream. In it, she saw a young man coming across a field toward her, carrying his straw hat and jacket and wearing a striped shirt.  He smiled as he came to the fence between them, then jumped across to come to her.  She woke up then but had a fleeting thought, “That is the man I will marry.”

At the auction everyone was buzzing about one of Mrs. Hurst’s sons—Robert—who had just gotten out of the Army. He was personable and eligible.  “Della, you need to set your cap for him,” they said to Harriett’s older sister.

Just then Harriett looked up to see the man in her dream—walking across the field toward her.  It was Robert Hurst.  “No, he’s mine!” she thought to herself.  And so he was to be.  Soon there were photos of the two of them together—and Harriett’s smiles were full of joy for the first time ever.

They were married in 1918.  Robert worked at the local hardware store and within a year, their son Glenn was born.  Harriett loved the Hurst family who were much more fun-loving than the Cates.  Robert’s widowed mother Emily Belle welcomed Harriett and was thrilled with baby Glenn.  Robert’s sister Nannie Belle became like a second sister.  They were poised to “live happily ever after.”

It would not be so.  After a few years, tuberculosis struck Robert—and there was no known cure.  Soon his condition deteriorated until he as a last resort went to a veterans’ sanitarium in Kerrville, Texas. He died there a few months before his 29th birthday.  Harriett was a widow at age 24. Glenn was just three years old.  

Harriett lived another 70 years—and always smiled when she recalled her first dream of her first love Robert.  He was her dream come true.  On her last day, I told her it was September 17 and she immediately responded, “It’s Robert’s birthday, you know.”  She passed away that night, just fifteen minutes before midnight.  I picture him walking toward her just as in that long ago dream.

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