Rosanna peered out the kitchen window, trying to see through the sheets of rain. What was taking her husband so long? Had the wheels of his rig gotten buried in mud somewhere? After days of hard rain, the ground was saturated. Or was her very social husband simply visiting with his brother, thinking he had more than enough time to get Rosanna to Viola Mae’s house?
Rosanna glanced at the clock. Viola Mae had called two hours ago, thinking her labor may have begun. Perhaps it had, but from her experience as a midwife, Rosanna was pretty sure Viola Mae’s first child would take all night and perhaps half of tomorrow before entering this world. And that was if Viola was actually in labor.
Nevertheless, the young mom-to-be had to be seen tonight. Rosanna drove herself when the weather was good or even halfdecent, but her easygoing, supportive husband insisted on driving her whenever there was snow, fog, or heavy rains. If Rosanna’s examination indicated Viola Mae was in labor, Rosanna would stay the night, and her husband would return home.
She wished, and not for the first time, that the Amish in Winter Valley weren’t so cut off from the rest of the world. The serenity of living in northwestern Pennsylvania couldn’t be beat, but there wasn’t a clinic or doctor in the valley, and after her Mamm passed away, Rosanna was the only midwife in the region. When at twenty years old Rosanna had given birth to her first child, her own Mamm had delivered the baby girl, declaring the little one would also become
a midwife. That was nineteen years ago, and Jolene was many wonderful things, but a midwife was not one of them.
A thud pulled Rosanna’s attention to the happenings in the room. A book had fallen from the kitchen table. Her three schoolage
children were sitting around one end of the kitchen table, homework spread out in front of them as Jolene helped. Four-year-old Hope sat at the table with them, but she wasn’t in school yet. She liked homework hour, though, and Jolene had her close to reading and writing already. But the child who required the most help was Ray. After his near-fatal accident three years ago, no one had believed he’d be able to attend school at all—no one except Jolene. Rosanna’s
chest tightened with anxiety when she considered how difficult an adjustment Ray would have when Jolene moved out of state.
The light aroma of cooked celery hung in the air. Dozens of jars of freshly canned goods filled half the kitchen table. She and Jolene had made good use of the last three days of rain, finally catching up on their canning of September’s produce, especially the overabundance of celery for Jolene’s wedding. They’d planted more potatoes than ever before just for the wedding feast, but they didn’t need to can those. Her eldest child, the one Rosanna couldn’t get through a day without, would marry and leave the state in a few weeks. Was Rosanna doing a decent job of hiding the grief she felt? As for her daughter, she was so excited to embrace her future she could hardly sleep.
Where had all the days gone between giving birth to her and giving her away to be wed?
Jolene glanced up from the mounds of papers and looked out the kitchen window. “Is that his rig coming down the road?”
Rosanna couldn’t tell, not yet. But she did notice her lone and beloved dogwood, the one her husband had given her as a wedding present. Most of its red leaves had been beaten from the branches, and it’d been looking rather puny the last few years. Would its roots survive such a drenching? At the end of last winter, she and Jolene had cut a few shoots from the tree, hoping to grow new trees before this one died. They should’ve started that years ago when the dogwood was still healthy.
“It’s Daed.” Jolene recognized his rig before Rosanna. She didn’t have to ask Jolene to finish helping with homework or to get supper on the table. If Viola Mae wasn’t in labor and Rosanna returned home in a couple of hours, the kitchen sinks and counters would be spotless. Maybe the floors too if Jolene and her siblings got into another soapsuds battle. They loved those, and the upside was that the floors had to be mopped dry when they were through.
But on the nights when their Daed wasn’t home by eight, Jolene would put her sixteen-year-old brother in charge, and she’d retreat to the phone shanty to talk with Van Beiler for hours. Jolene’s loyalty to her brothers and sisters had a clearly marked line when it came to Van. Once he was home from work or arrived for a date or visit, he came first. Rosanna supposed that was how it should be, especiallysince Jolene was mere weeks away from her wedding. And when he’d said he thought the best place for them to live was in Ohio near his parents, Jolene hadn’t hesitated for a second. She’d said that as long
as he was by her side, she could live anywhere and survive anything. Later Jolene told Rosanna that Van wanted to move there to support Jolene’s desire to do artwork. Painting and drawing scenery and animals and people weren’t considered idolatry by the bishop in that district. Van was perfect for Jolene, but did he have to take her to