Gift-Bearing Guest

Many months ago, I wrote in this blog about visiting a friend who was gravely ill. I’d known this friend for years, and, driving him home from a doctor’s appointment, he imagined raising chickens and pigs and lambs. I believed he was not long from death; I could see the nearness of his demise in his ochre skin. Today, he stopped by with pork, from three pigs he slaughtered on Monday. We exchanged stories about our kids, standing in my kitchen he helped build.

Those pigs represent a dream come true for my friend: more of this life.

He has the money problems he’s always had, but he copes with those challenges as he always has, making do, one way or another. The little bit of help I offered him I gave as freely as I’ve given anything in this life, with no thought of repayment. After he left, I opened up the cardboard box and found ham steaks, painstakingly packed, for the short distance from his house to mine.

Here’s a typewritten piece of Woodbury’s history I found in our little library’s stacks.


By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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