Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Six

July 31, 2006

So -- last night we followed the two eldest daughters and the twins as they grew up. It's time to meet the grandparents, I think.

Tea is now in hand, and I am going to tell the story now...

Grampy and Grammy had lived in their large house across from the park ever since they were first married.

Of course in those days, they were a little further from the village instead of right on the edge.

And in those days, their names were Adam and Ava.

Adam's father had given them the house when they got married because, as he was the only son, he was to inherit the farm anyway.

His parents moved into a little cottage they built next door, and stayed long enough to enjoy many grandchildren for many years.

Ava's parents had helped to furnish the house, as their part, and had given them a fine pair of horses to work the fields.

In this way, the old plow horses could enjoy retirement along with their masters.

And for many years, the old horses and their masters delighted children with bareback rides to the creek for picnics and fishing.

Adam and Ava were strong and hard-working, honest and clever. They had much success.

Ava's jams and jellies won prizes every year at the fair.

Adam's harnesses and tack were the envy of farmers and carters for miles around, and he sold extras at the market in the spring after sowing and before the first harvest.

Adam and Ava were the solid, kind people their parents had dreamed of.

They were the lively, creative people their parents had hoped for.

Ava's youngest sister came to live with them when the first baby was born, and stayed until the third baby could walk.

Adam's youngest sister came to stay with them when the fourth baby was born, and stayed until the eldest boy's family needed help with their babies.

Uncles, cousins, Aunts and grandparents, not to mention neighbors and friends, were in and out at the big farmhouse.

The children grew up surrounded by love and activity.

Eventually, there were four boys and three girls in the family.

Ava grew grey and a little plump.

Adam went grey briefly... and then wasn't any more.

Ava could usually spot him in the fields from the wide straw hat she made him wear.

He grumbled, but he knew better than to argue with her.

And, of course, he was pleased she cared.

For her part, Ava could list every one of his flaws in detail -- but always kept them to herself and recited only his good qualities.

Of their seven children, the eldest two boys showed themselves able farmers and eventually took over most of the farm work.

Their third child was a girl, who walked with a limp after falling from a tree as a child, and so never married. She helped her mother around the house and yard, and cared for her younger siblings most ably.

She had the most beautiful handwriting. She could often be found at the school as well, reading to the youngest students, and helping them form their letters.

The next child was another boy. Busy from the moment he could crawl, his mother and father never had a moment's rest.

As a young boy, he was always wandering off, until he knew his side of the mountain better than his mother knew her house.

As an adolescent, he slipped away from chores and went out walking for days on end, coming home with meat for the family and hides for his father to tan.

Realizing he was not suited to farming, his parents arranged for him to apprentice with the mule team leader, and he worked and traveled and made his way in the world.

When the fifth child was born so early, she was tiny -- and couldn't be left alone. So her auntie made a little sling and she rode close to the hearts of her mother or father or auntie or grandparents until she was able to look around and squirm.

As she grew older, she spent most of her time with her grandmother next door, and soon learned all the family history and gossip, with which she entertained her brothers and sisters (and later nieces and nephews).

As she grew older, she was much in demand around the village to help with housework and child care.

Her brother who was just a year younger than she was, often tagged along with her, and soon became as good a cook. He loved food.

And he loved to visit with people.

As he got older, he began to work in the Inn, first just maintaining the fires and fetching water and ale; then gradually learning to cook for larger crowds he gained a reputation for good filling food.

Eventually, he learned of an inn on the plain that needed a new cook, and he moved away.

The last child was another girl. She was thin as a baby and thin as a child.

She looked out on the world from her crib with wide, wondering eyes and a serious expression.

Her grandfather would take her on his lap and sit for hours, rocking on the front porch, waving to passers by.

Her older brothers and sisters would play with her, or read to her, or take her with them when they ran errands.

She enjoyed sitting with a cat on her lap and a dog at her feet.

Her section of the flower garden bloomed with more color and hummed with the energy of birds and insects.

She moved slowly, and walked so quietly that sometimes no one noticed she had come in.

When her grandmother took ill, she sat for weeks at her side, feeding her warm broth by the teaspoon full, and reading from her favorite books.

When her grandmother died, she moved into the house with her grandfather, and took care of him.

As she did, she slowly grew stronger.

Her hair, which had been fine and straight, grew thick and curly.

Her brothers and sisters would stop by and bring their children , or she would go next door and help her mother and aunt with canning and baking.

She was no longer thin, but always had an elusive quality -- as if she were floating through life.

She and her sisters would gather in the evenings at one house or another to shell peas or string beans or work on mending the clothes.

Their happy chatter could be heard, as they talked over the day's events and the local news.

The grandfather grew older and thinner, but his step was strong and he enjoyed his granddaughter's presence.

Eventually, the eldest boy married and his parents moved into the room next to the kitchen. The next eldest brother built a home at the other end of the farm, and one took over the dairy and the other the fields.

Soon, their children were playing between the houses while their parents worked and visited.

Adam and Ava were pleased, and happily moved from chore to chore.

The children, each in their own way, had found their places.

When Adam's father finally died in sleep, he was laid gently to rest beside his wife in the little garden under the big tree in the field.

Adam and Ava moved into the little house with their eldest girl and youngest girls, but continued to spend much of their time with their son and his wife.

Then after many years, the parents in law of the eldest son took ill.

After much discussion, he decided to move his family back to his wife's village in order to care for that farm.

The two middle daughters had already married and moved to their husband's homes on the opposite side of the village.

The youngest daughter by that time had developed into a strong, capable woman with curly hair and bright eyes and a smile that warmed the coldest night.

She married a man who had started working as a farm hand as a young orphan but who had become as close to the family over the years.

Though he was several years older than she was, he appreciated the sunsets and rose early to see the sunrise.

He often made new tools to help with the housework or the farm.

And he was constantly surprising Adam and Ava with gifts he had made.

They were happy together, and soon their family was growing.

First a girl, then a boy...

and life went on.