So many times I had nearly given up in despair, wondering what my future would hold, when I finally saw him coming.
He looked, I thought in my weary, over-worried state, younger, although his hair and beard were still snowy white, as colourless as a lamb's fleece.
It was the expression on his face that made him look younger, actually. He was positively beaming, a delighted smile curled on his lips. Obviously, something good had happened. Needless to say, I was nearly mad with curiosity as to how it had all turned out.
Then I saw it.
In his hand, he held a sandal. He was to be my husband. Technically, he already was, even though I wasn't yet aware of it.
The custom for a man who is turning down the repurchasing rights is to draw off his sandal and give it to the man next in line, saying it is good for him instead to go about doing the repurchasing. And Boaz had a sandal in his hand.
"Good day, Naomi," He addressed her. To me, "Good day, wife, Jehovah be with you."
"Oh, may Jehovah bless you, Boaz." Naomi's eyes were twinkling. "You mean to say you have repurchased her?"
"Yes, I announced it this very afternoon," Though he spoke to Naomi, he kept looking over at me. To get my reaction, I guess. "I made all the necessary arrangements in front of all present witness, right after the So-and-So closer related to Mahlon than I turned down the privilege."
My heart skipped a beat. I was a married woman again, and it wasn't to someone unknown, but to someone I cared about. No woman had ever been more blessed than I had in this instance.
"If you don't mind my asking," Naomi pressed. "what did So-and-So say?"
"Ah, he said he was glad enough to repurchase any land or material properties of the deceased, but when I informed him that there was a wife to repurchase, he soon lost interest in doing so."
My ego was a little bruised. Glad as I was, no woman likes to feel unwanted. No matter, Boaz wanted me, that was good enough.
"Ruth, dear wife," This time I took in the full sense of his pleasure at saying the word 'wife' as he reached for my hand. "I do hope I have found favor in your eyes."
"Oh, it is a certainty, my lord." I said.
"I," His tone grew softer still, less merry, more tender. "I do love you, Ruth, I would have told you long ago, but I suspected there would be some matters to clear up."
I was stunned. He had known. All along, it seemed, he had known I would come to him and ask him to repurchase me. Or, at least, he had known it longer than I had. It seemed a little unfair.
"I see that look," His tone was merry again. "Understand that I did not know for a certainty you would come to me, but know also that I'd hoped for it, that you would choose me over the younger men."
"But you knew also of the chance that someone else would want me."
"True, but I was never firmly convinced that he would take you. The only reason his finding delight in you would have made me happy was that he was younger than I am, and I thought you might have been happier."
Naomi poked me playfully in the side. "You did not see the joy on her face when you came holding that sandal."
I blushed. "Mother Naomi!"
"Don't waste your embarrassment on your own husband, my daughter, save it for a rainy day."
Boaz and I laughed at the same time. How delightful that we had similar tastes in humour. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone to keep me company and to laugh with again? Wouldn't it be nice to do the same thing for him? Who was to say he wasn't lonely, being unmarried at his age? Maybe all along we'd needed each other, and until it all fell into place, I hadn't seen it so clearly.
"I love you, my lord." Such a mixture of joy and relief to say those words aloud.
"Boaz," He corrected me. "If I am your husband, than you ought to call me by my name."
"Boaz, my-" I stopped, catching myself.
"You were about to add, 'my lord'!" He was teasing me now.
"Don't mock me."
"I would never mock you, darling Ruth,"
I believed him, he had such an honest way of expressing himself.
"Come, do let us go home now." He said. "You will not have to glean anymore, for it is all as much yours as mine now."
No longer was I a widow. I was the wife of the master of the house, the mistress of the fields I had worked so hard in during the harvest.
Time passed and happiness grew. Boaz was as good as I'd ever imagined him to be and he remained kind as ever. We both had our faults just like anyone else might, but we loved each other all the same.
From that love, there came a blessing, a son. A baby boy, my own child. I had heard that being a mother was a wonderful experience, but it wasn't until then that I learned it for myself. It wasn't until I held the beautiful little baby in my arms that I discovered the true wonder that was motherhood. So many things stopped mattering when one held one's own child. Pains and aches dulled, tears of labor turned to mirth, weary scowls became smiles.
Boaz and I named the child Obed and he was beloved among those of our household, relatives, and friends.
As I gently placed the baby into my mother-in-law's trembling hands so that she could hold him and see the child born in place of the grandsons she never had, I knew what she was thinking. Praise Jehovah.
Watching us, the midwives and other women began to say to her, "Blessed you are, Naomi, no longer are you Mara."
I assumed they were referring to my beautiful son and I beamed with pride. I turned a vivid shade of scarlet when I realized what they truly meant.
"For you have a daughter-in-law who does indeed love you, a daughter-in-law better than seven sons."
Better than seven sons, not a bad sentiment, I thought, people have died over lower honours than that before. Praise Jehovah.
Naomi handed the child back to me and I kissed his forehead. He was glorious. My son was a marvel.
That night, as I rested, worn-out from the excitement of the day, I could hear Boaz singing to our son. Being the thoughtful person he was, he had offered to look after the baby for a few hours. I thought this particularly gracious of him, seeing as he could have left little Obed in the care of one of the nursemaids or maidservants.
I listened to the song, straining, though I knew I shouldn't have been, to catch the words. It was the old victory song the Israelites sang so long ago when their god destroyed pharaoh at the Red Sea and saved them. It was a beautiful song.
"Sing to Jehovah for he has become highly exalted.
The horse and its rider he has pitched into the sea.
My strength and my might is Jah, since he serves for my salvation.
This is my God, I shall laud him on high."
Splendid, I sighed happily, letting my head sink down into its resting place. The song was made all the more lovely for its realness. Jehovah had not failed to save his people then, and he had not failed to save even me, a poor widow from Moab.
Obed would one day grow up to become grandfather to King David, and later, through his line-and mine-would come Jesus Christ, God's only begotten son who would save the world and set up a kingdom even to time indefinite.
But that's another story.
AN: That's all for this fic. I hope my readers enjoyed it. Please review.