Hard Time Marrying Part 25

 

big-wildflowerThey got home well before dark.  While Joe and Little Joe milked and tended the stock, Anya put Sally in her sling and walked across the meadow down to the creek.  The cow and calf grazed near the willows, the calf didn’t have to be kept up to protect the milk, though all it enjoyed was its mother’s company since she’d gone dry.  Joe hadn’t bothered to scythe down the weeds since he didn’t have to worry about the coming calf.  The stand of Queen Anne’s lace waved its graceful heads, its regal beauty given no hint of its hidden use.  Anya had often gathered wildflowers on her walk, bringing back an apron full of Black-Eyed Susan’s, bright Indian Blanket, and Texas Bluebonnets, loving the way their colors brightened the cabin.  She’d never been especially fond of white, but today, filled her apron with the lacy white flowers and nothing else.

Emma had sent home enough chicken and dumplings for another meal.  With biscuits from breakfast and Emma’s conserve, it made a festive supper.  Little Joe licked his plate and Sally kept squealing and reaching for the conserve, long after she plastered herself with hers.  They laughed as they cleaned the little ones up.  The children were reluctant to settle in bed after their exciting day and the hilarity at supper.  Joe lay on the cot with his little namesake was still while Anya rocked Sally.

He came back to the table and took Anya’s hand.  Looking pointedly at the pot of white flowers, he said, “You want to be careful with those.  You know they made the cow lose her calf.  I don’t want nothin’ happenin’ to you.  A baby is just a baby.”

Anya started crying.  “Joe, I don’t even know if I want this baby.  I was hopin’ things could go on the way they were.  You have already taken in your dead wife’s little ones and now this.  This baby was forced on me.  I don’t know if I can do right by it, let alone love it.  I think it might be better if you let me do what I need to do and after, if you want, we can figure somethin’ out.  We can make a clean start or I can leave once I am back on my feet if you want. We ain’t married and you done took care of me a long time.  You don’t owe me nothin’.  You could always look for a woman to come stay and help out till she’s bigger.  The West is full of women who need somebody to do for an’ a place to stay.”

Joe was a man of few words.  “Anya, I know what it is to be alone.  I never knew my pa, these younguns don’t know their pa.  You done without a ma. The world don’t have to be such a cold place. You’re are a good woman an’ I seen how you love these little fellers.  I want you, and that little feller you’re a’carrying if that’s the way you see it.”  He picked up his hat to go to the barn.

Anya looked from Sally to Joe as a tear dropped on Sally’s blonde head.  She reached out, putting a hand on Joe’s shoulder.  “Stay, Joe.  It’s time Sally started sleepin’ in with Little Joe.”

Tenderly, Joe tucked Sally in on the far side of the cot with Little Joe, then put out the light.

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Hard Time Marrying Part 24

frontier-woman-evelyn-cameron                                            Image of frontier woman in her kitchen pulled from internet.

 

“Are you havin’ more trouble?”

“I’m afraid it might come early.”

“Well, ain’t nothin’ to be done about that.  Just don’t overdo yourself and maybe it will hold.”  Emma reassured her.

“That’s not what I mean.  I think I was carrying this baby when I come here.”  Anya studied her lap.

“Well, Joe knowed you was a widow.  You don’t look too far along.  You been here long enough it might be Joe’s.”

“It ain’t.  Joe ain’t never touched me.  That’s why I ain’t told him about the baby.  It cain’t be his.  I wish I would just lose it!  I don’t want to Joe to put me out over this baby.  Our life is just starting to be good.”  Anya cried softly.

“Anya.  I know you a good woman the way you look after Joe and them young’uns.  Joe is a good man.  You are gonna have to talk to him about this.  Times is real hard out here.  They ain’t a town fer miles.  Good folks don’t just happen by.  You an’ Joe might have a chance.  I ‘spect Joe’s already suspicions ‘bout that baby.  I knowed you was in the family way the minute I seen you.  Rufus saw it, too.  The Lord has done joined you together and you don’t need to be parted, not without trying.  You’re a’thinkin’ Joe ain’t gonna want you with this baby comin’. You’re a figurin’ you gonna lose him anyway.  Joe’s a good man.  Even if it turns out he don’t want you with this baby, you need to talk to him.  He’s showed you kindness all this time.  He ain’t gonna grind you under his foot like a snake even if he don’t want you.  The two of you can figure out somethin’. Joe ain’t never had nobody to care about him before and that means a lot.” 

Even if Emma was wrong, her kindness eased Anya’s fears.

“I just don’t want to put no more on Joe.” She explained.

“Then don’t leave his feelings out of this.  Let’s get them dumplings started.  The menfolk is gonna be hungry.”  Emma was a good woman.

Hard Time Marrying Part 23

sod-house-2

Anya just drank up Emma’s house as Emma showed her through.  A bright oilcloth covered the kitchen table.  Gingham curtains fluttered in the window.  A cast-iron cook stove filled one corner of the kitchen and a few dish-lined shelves covered the walls over the cook table.  A dishpan hung on one side of the stove and a few pots on the other.  A can of flour and a bread board set on the cook table.   Doors opened off either side of the kitchen and rough stairs climbed to the attic opposite the stove.  An apron hung on a nail, next to an embroidered drying towel.  A water bucket and dipper stood on a shelf next to the back door.  A cracked mirror in a frame hung there also, along with a comb on a string, concession to vanity.

“We got bedrooms opening off both sides of the kitchen.  When Melvin got old enough, he slept in the attic.  He moved downstairs after Marthy married.  He’s courtin’ Jenny Parker, now, so I reckon they could be a weddin’ before too long.  I always hoped we’d have to build more rooms fer a passel of younguns, but I guess the Good Lord thought two was a’plenty.  We ain’t always had it so nice.  Twenty-four years ago we started digging out a sod house when I was first a’carrying Martha.  We ain’t been married long an’ didn’t have nothin’ but a start of seed, Rufus’s old gun, the clothes we stood up in, a few quilts, some old pots and crockery my ma spared me, an ax, shovel, plow and a mule and wagon Joe’s pa set him up with. Our folks was mighty good to help us like that.  They ain’t had much neither.  We slept in the wagon fer a few weeks while we planted and Joe dug sod.  By July, it had dried out enough so we could frame up with poles Joe cut down by the creek.  By the time Rufus had a good-sized hole dug, the sod had dried enough to stack.  We set corner poles and got to stacking them soddy bricks.  After we got high as I could reach on the north side, Rufus stacked the rest of the way up and I started the next wall.  We took the wagon apart to frame up the door and build a tight door.  Joe sodded up a lean-to for the mule off the back wall of our soddy. I sure hated to see that old wagon go, but there weren’t no timber.  We sodded the roof, and it was good enough to get us through a winter or two. 

After our second crop come in, Joe come up with enough lumber to build a two-room cabin.  I was sure proud.  That soddy kept us out of the cold, but when it rained mud was always fallin’ in on us….and the bugs!  We couldn’t keep them bugs out!  A cabin is sure a comfort! He built the other bedroom I was carrying the still-born baby, but we didn’t need more room till Melvin come along.

That old soddy comes in handy as a root cellar now.  Long as we keep plenty of dry straw on the floor and don’t let the taters, sweet taters, turnips, and apples from touchin’ they’ll keep till spring.  I hang my onions and herbs on the rafters so they keep good.  I make leather britches out of my green beans so we can have a taste of fresh all winter.  A few years ago, Rufus brung me in some a’them canning jars an’ I been able to put up conserves when the fruit comes in.  I was so proud, I ‘bout cried when I seen ‘em.  Here, I want you to have this wild plum conserve I put up.  It will go so good with your fine biscuits.”  Emma was justly proud of her home and housekeeping.

Tears came to Anya’s eyes.  “Oh Emma, this is the finest thing I’ve ever been given.  I’ll make sure to git your jar safe back to you.”

“Oh no you won’t.  It’s a weddin’ present.  Every woman should have something fine from a friend.  I am proud to be your first one here.”  Emma hugged Anya to her with the warmth of a mother.  “I’m sure praying you’ll carry this little one and be spared the sorrow I felt.”

“Emma, I am so worried about this baby.” Anya whispered.

 

 

Hard Time Marrying Part 21

Emma tapped on the door, explaining before she even got in. “I can’t stay.  Me and Rufus is on the way to town.  Nellie Mason told me your cow was dry, so I brung you some butter and two gallons of milk for the youguns.  If it turns before they finish it, you might have enough for a churning.  Can I bring you anything from town? ”

“Thank you, but no.  This milk and butter are sure welcome. Are you sure you cain’t set awhile?  I wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee with a friend.  It gets mighty quiet with Joe gone all day.”  Anya longed for the comfort of a woman’s company.

“No, Rufus is a’waitin’ in the wagon.  I better get on, but I sure wish you’d ride over with Joe Saturday when he comes to help Rufus fix the windmill.  I could kill a chicken an’ make some dumplings.  We could have some good woman talk.”  Emma’s eyes crinkled.  “Is Joe proud about the baby?”

“Oh, I ain’t told him yet.  I been spottin’ some and I’m afeared I may not carry it.  I don’t want him to worry if they ain’t no need.”  Anya had no idea how that spilled out.

“”I’ve sorrowed over that.  I lost two between Martha and Melvin.  I’ll pray for you.”  She gave Anya a warm hug.

Tears sprung to Anya’s eyes at her friend’s kindness.  “I thank you, Emma.  I’d be proud to see you on Saturday.”

“That will be something to look forward to.  See you then.”  Anya followed Emma into the yard and waved as the Menlo’s wagon rattled off.

 

Welcome to Scarred and Scared

I stumbled onto your first post yesterday.  I was moved by your struggle dealing with sexual abuse and bipolar disorder.  I congratulate on having the courage to open your heart to a caring community of people who will support you in your struggles and joy.  You have found friends who will come to depend on you as you will depend on them.   Continue reading

Dear Carlos

Dear Carlos,

Upon hearing that I have been married for forty-seven years to a loving man, your friend asked if I had any advice for a young person considering marriage.  I have no special expertise or qualification for counseling, except forty-seven years’ experience in my own marriage, but I will share that with you.

  1. Respect is imperative. Take the time to see how he/she treats parents and siblings. If a person is not respectful to their family, take your cue from that. Definitely meet their family. That alone will answer a lot of questions about your possible future together. Remember, any children you have may be more like either of your family members than they are like either of you.
  2. Shared values. Discuss your values and expectations. Religion? How will you manage your money? Will you have children? Will you both work outside the home? How will you share responsibility? These factors end relationships every day.
  3. Don’t expect marriage to be 50/50. You will both have to give 100% to make it work. It took me a while to figure out my husband didn’t want to talk things out once a conflict was over. It’s okay to say, “Give me a little time. I am still mad.” It’s not okay to punish or be mean-spirited. Let go of your anger as soon as you can, then put it in the past.
  4. Loyalty. You have to put each other first. We have each other’s back. We trust each other, not wasting time on jealousy and games. We are together because we want to be, not because we have to be.
  5. Make sure the person you love will be your friend forever. You have to be comfortable together, not forever trying to meet their expectations.  You need to be able to laugh and cry together to get through the good times and the hard times.

Best of luck.

Linda