He opened his eyes, rolled over and simply watched her breathe as she slept in the dawn.
He reached out and caressed her tummy softly. In her sleep she reached down and held his hand there.
When was it? Nearly 40 years ago he had been playing a bar in Red River, when his show was over he had gone down the road to a tavern with a band and a pool table.
On that table he had gotten into a game with the prettiest girl in the room. She had been walking away with his last $10. He was watching what he had been watching and thinking about through the whole game, rather than the game, when she turned and said, “You should never bet the farm, honey”.
To this day he didn’t know how or why he said it so easy, but with a flippant smile he said, “I didn’t bet the ranch, Dear Heart, just my last $10. Why don’t you buy us some beers with it, we can dance a while, and I’ll show you the ranch, you’ll love it”.
She paused a moment and said, “Why not”.
They had danced and laughed, found more money in the bottom of their pockets, and woke up in the back of his pickup on two tire tracks 50 miles out on the mesa southwest from Taos, half way to his ranch.
He had 6,000 acres of his own, 40,000 Bureau of Land Management acres, a small house and a couple of thousand cows.
They called it home.
And she did love it!
Between the ranch and the music they had raised two children who were out on their own now.
With the music he had shown her Hawaii, Japan, Australia, England, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, and a whole lot of the U.S..
They had learned each others hearts, learned how to fight, and fear, and love each other at the same time.
They had learned to share and learn all of each others hearts.
They had learned how to really love.
They had learned how to truly trust.
Every day they still learned how to really love, like it was a new thing.
They had built it and earned it.
And, he thought, it was good.
He caressed that same tummy he had known and caressed when it was flat and young, round and glowing when pregnant, which he now adoringly called “his ¼ acre of heaven”.
Leaning over he kissed that tummy, and her hand, and said “Good Morning Dear Heart, I’ll go start breakfast. I told you I didn’t bet the ranch, just my last 10 bucks, and you know what?”
She murmured sleepily “We won!”