I threaded my car slowly along the familiar roads – Truckenmiller, Rambadt, Bucknell, Wasepi, Lepley – winding past one farm after another, many laden with a decade’s worth of memories, some even with two. Showers of bright leaves drifted through the shafts of sunlight that penetrated the craggy limbs hemming in the sky like giant golden snowflakes, swirling in eddies stirred up by the breeze, causing the sense of enchantment and nostalgia that flooded my heart and my soul to swell ever stronger.
I was nearing the end of my time in Michigan, the six priceless weeks I’d spent tending to my daughter and new grandgirl, as well as to my daughter’s clients – most of whom were once clients of my own. I passed the apple orchard, I passed the country store, I passed the produce stand. I passed the farm I used to fetch milk from and the farm from which I used to retrieve eggs and poultry. I passed the home Armanda birthed most of her babies in, the home where Rose birthed Davin and Absalom, the home where Kay Day was born and died.
I was in a hurry, as I had family after family to squeeze into my day, but I struggled to increase my pace. When would I return to this beautiful place, so rich with remembrance? I couldn’t know, and, therefore, I just could not rush. I rolled past the school house, the side yard lined with buggies and bikes. I knew many of the children inside – pretty near to let-out time now – were children I’d welcomed to earth one quiet night or other by the hiss and glow of kerosene lamp. I moved along.
The tires of my car crunched the gravel before the home a set of twins had been born into, along with several of the twins’ siblings. I thought then of bright-eyed Rebecca, the twins’ oldest sister – the eldest girl in the family. My throat thickened and my eyes dampened with the immensity of my recollections.
I’d met Rebecca when she was a little girl, all brilliant blue eyes and whispy blonde hair escaping the edges of her white organza prayer kapp, and we’d come to know and treasure one another through my eleven years caring for her family. She was young, yes, but strong and smart, and so willing to help her mama. She sat through nearly every visit, serious and silent and respectful, though her curiosity was ever a living thing present in the room. Rebecca’s keen ears drank in every word I said, while her sparkling eyes captured every movement. I had to watch myself around her in order to protect the innocence the Amish guard so carefully among their children.
I was yet with Rebecca’s mother when Rebecca and her brothers and sisters returned home after the birth of the twins. The twins were a tiny boy and a tiny girl, each barely six pounds. Only Rebecca knew a baby was expected – though she didn’t know twins were looked for.
The children burst into the kitchen, sending a stack of my papers fluttering to the floor. They were aglow with excitement, knowing something was up with my car standing in the drive. Hats and jackets and boots went flying, and at their mother’s, “Children, come,” they made a dash for their parent’s bedroom.
I stooped to retrieve the casualties of their arrival, then followed the children down the hall. Such homecomings were the moments I loved best, especially the Amish ones for all the mystery and surprise of them – better than a Christmas morning. I slid my hands into the pockets of my apron and relaxed into the door frame to take it all in.
Rebecca’s mother revealed her playful streak, and presented the boy baby alone, swaddled snugly in a blue blanket – she’d tucked her girl from view beneath the near edge of a well-worn quilt.
“Mamm!” the children cried, “Mamm, look! It’s a tiny bobbeli! It’s a tiny boy!”
“Ya,” Rebecca’s mother said, glancing up at Rebecca, “It’s our new boy.”
Rebecca smiled. She was pleased about the her new brother, but she’d had her heart set on a little girl, and her mother knew it.
The woman smiled back at her oldest daughter, her best helper – the child who was rapidly becoming her friend, “But what have we here?”
She folded the quilt back from the wee parcel of pink.
“Oh, Mamm!” Rebecca breathed, reaching for her, “Oh, Mamm, may I?” and at a nod from her mother, she swept the bundle to her heart.
I surfaced from my reverie, noting I’d circled back around and nearly reached the schoolhouse again. I’d dawdled long enough. Wiping my eyes and blowing my nose, I pressed the accelerator a bit more firmly. People were waiting on me.
As I zipped around a bend in the road, I noticed a parade of bicycles and a horse and buggy hurtling my way, and slowed. They were in such a hurry, I knew they had to be students just released from school. I raised my hand to them as they passed. They returned the greeting amidst shouts and laughter.
And then I saw it was Rebecca driving the buggy,
and the tears flowed afresh.
by Kim Woodard Osterholzer
Some names have been changed.
The drawings were made by Rebecca’s mom – tracings of the hands of the little ones among her brood whom I’d ushered into the light.
The photo of the horse and buggy is the picture I took
of Rebecca and her siblings as they passed by.
And the picture of the little card that reads “Form Rebecca To: Kim” was really and truly made for me by sweet Rebecca ♥
Thank you so much for the gift of your time!
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Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
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