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Charlie Shedd wrote his son a series of letters to give some practical advice about marriage. They were published in a book called Letters to Phillip. Here is one of the most moving chapters:

Dear Phil, I used to hunt ducks with a man who had a "thing" about his guns. He also had a "thing" about my gun. He polished his with some special kind of oil, which smelled like bananas. And he ate me out in the blind whenever the ducks weren’t flying, because my gun didn’t smell like bananas.

In fact, my gun even had some scratches on the brown part. It also had some terrible stuff called "pitting" in the barrel, and he said this was because I didn’t clean it first thing when I got home after a hunt.

But there were some good reasons why I kept hunting with this firearm perfectionist. He was a member of the best duck lease on the river, and I wasn’t. He was also chairman of the board at our church, and we could talk business to and fro. The third reason wasn’t so good: He was having trouble with his wife, and I hoped we might be able to save the marriage.

But we couldn’t. Finally, she gave up. They got a divorce. It was one of those cases that would make a grown man cry.

There he would sit in his beautiful den--antelope heads, stuffed pheasants, lush white rug made from the hide of a mountain goat, cabinet full of beautiful guns all polished with oil that smelled like bananas.

He would stand there by the case taking them out and handling them with tender, loving care. Then he would remember the way my gun looked and take off again on one of his diatribes about the care of guns. This never failed to shame me, and I would go home determined to get out my gun and clean it like it had never been cleaned before.

But do you know what happened? When I arrived home, she would be waiting for me at the door. So we would sit down on our rocking love seat, hold hands, visit, and like that. In less time than it takes to look into her eyes, I completely forgot my noble resolve to love my gun with more devotion.

The other day as I was thinking back on all this, a great idea occurred to me. Funny, isn’t it, how we so often get these brilliant thoughts too late?

What happened was that my banana-oil brother would always include in his lectures at least one reference like this: "I just can’t understand how a man could invest so much in a gun and then let it go to pot!"

The thought that came to me was, "Why didn’t I figure up how much it cost him to get his wife? Courtship expenses - movies, flowers, dinners, gifts, postage, the wedding. All the food she’s eaten through the year, clothes she’s bought, medicine. It really would be a tidy sum, wouldn’t it?"

Then I could have said, "My dear Whoozit! You are absolutely right! Let us now turn your brilliant observation to other things. Isn’t a man a fool to invest so much in marriage and then let it go to pot?"

He sure would be, wouldn’t he? Carry on, Dad.

(From a sermon by Bobby Scobey, "Mother’s Day 09 - Honoring Mothers" 5/4/2009)

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