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LINDON — Love inspires, no matter who you are or how old you are.
At his job as a security guard last year, Saxon Porter made a discovery — a new poet with a lot to say about love. The writer was 88-year-old Richard Ledbetter, the guard who worked the overnight shift.
"He's a meme, like, he's literally just a one-of-a-kind person," said Porter.
Ledbetter grew up on his grandfather's farm in Briscoe, Texas. He recalls milking the cows and feeding the hogs when he was just 7-years-old.
At 88, he moves like a man 20 years younger.
Ledbetter didn't write or even read poetry until his wife Elicia succumbed to cancer in 1987. After she died, he began to write verses.
"I'm not a Shakespeare or anything like that," Ledbetter said, "but it just started coming to me. I just felt it inside."
He wrote this about his late wife:
I saw two chairs upon a porch,
A story they did tell.
Of a husband and wife amid the strife,
Who lived their lives so well.
For God did take that lovely wife,
To live with Him above.
The husband stayed down here below,
Just thinking of her love.
Fourteen years later, after moving to Utah, Ledbetter found a new love and a new muse, Eugena, at the University Mall in Provo.
He sold shoes. She sold jewelry. She was going through a divorce and had lost faith in love. He had not.
"We're best friends. We love each other. I never knew it was even going to be possible," said Eugena. "Richard has a beautiful heart, and so everything that's inside of him comes out in poetry."
He wrote this about Eugena:
LET'S KNIT OUR HEARTS TOGETHER
Let's knit our hearts together,
Let's let our lives entwine.
I'll be your sweetheart every day,
And darling you'll be mine.
By the time he met Saxon Porter, a college student, Ledbetter had written about 400 poems.
"(He) got all excited, and then he went out to his car, he came back and he had three binders of poetry," said Porter. "He just like, sat down, opened one up and started reading."
Saxon was taken with his writing and the fact that, to pay Eugena's medical bills, he was working four 12-hour graveyard shifts.
"I think that's a lot to go through at 88-years-old," Porter said, "working graveyard shifts, and then happening to wake up and take your wife to the hospital and stuff. That's not cool."
Porter — who's since left that job, but remains friends with Ledbetter — set up a GoFundMe page for the couple, videotaped Ledbetter reciting his poetry and uploaded it to YouTube, and arranged to publish a book of Ledbetter's love poems.
"People need to know that there is love in the world. It's not so scary and mean as my life had been," said Eugena. "People need that in their life — they need to know that there is love, there is hope."
When asked about the positive response to his poems, Ledbetter started crying, "I was amazed. I was amazed. I didn't know."
"His heart is so big," Eugena said.
This lovely day I pause to say,
The things you mean to me.
Your happiness, and I confess,
I'm happy as can be.
This joyous day I want to say,
You're really quite a girl.
Your joy and bliss, true happiness,
You've really filled my world.
The way you make me feel today,
Is more than words can say.
You're quite a wife, you've blessed my life,
In every kind of way.