I have to admit I am in a bit of a slump. I haven't been feeling well the past couple of weeks but I won't bore you with that... but somehow it has affected my head, and you know the head really affects the rest of our bodies. I am not usually affected this way, but I find myself being negative, tired, grumpy, and all around dissatisfied with life in general. This is totally out of character for me. I don't usually fall into this pattern, but for some reason lately, I have not only fallen, but I have not even tried to get back up.
A physician friend of mine suggested I start taking Vitamin D supplements. We have had very little sun the past 6 weeks, and he suggests that even on a normal year we dont get enough sunlight in our corner of the world. According to him we who live in this area of the world should all be taking daily supplements of this vitamin. So starting today I will try more Vitamin D... if that's all I have to do to make me feel better... great - it's worth a try.
I wonder how women coped with all life threw their way years ago - they were made of much better stuff than we of today are...
On that note - here's some more of Chapter 5...
The day stretched exceedingly long for Emilie and the children after Karl left. There were many chores that she needed to tackle but the first and most important to her, was to move herself and the children down to Karl’s bedroom on the main floor, closer to their source of heat. Karl himself had suggested it, and Emilie was more than willing if not anxious to accomplish this task.
Emilie had not been inside Karl’s room before, so she made her way there now, eager to begin the chore of moving their sleeping quarters before the night was once again upon them. She gently pushed the heavy door to Karl’s room open, and was immediately surprised at the sight that greeted her.
It was a woman’s room - or it had been at one time, the evidence of that fact was everywhere. The heavy wooden bedstead was painted a stark white; there was a matching bureau, a dresser and two nightstands, one on each side of the bed that attested that the suite had been purchased as a complete ensemble. A brightly-colored bedspread with large yellow roses trailing across it adorned the flat surface of the bed while a matching crocheted blanket lay neatly folded and carefully placed across the end of the bed. Flowered curtains, the exact match to the bedspread although somewhat faded from the too much exposure to the sun, hung limply from the window. Emilie could tell that at one time they had been the prettiest curtains that money could buy.
There were several embroidered dresser scarves of various sizes lying on the top of each piece of furniture, none were overly clean and most were horribly wrinkled. A man’s hairbrush, a bottle of men’s cologne and a lone tie clip were the only other articles in the room.
Emilie searched the walls for a picture or any indication other than the obvious that a woman had ever occupied the room, but there were none. There were no pictures or personal mementos of a marriage, a wife, or children, anywhere in the room.
She ignored the impulse to strip the room bare and clean it from top to bottom; she did not ignore the realization that cold or not, she was intruding on Karl’s private space and so she would not be joining the children tonight in his bed. She would change the linens and mop the floor and for the time Karl was away she would put the children in their father’s bed; but she would sleep on the sofa in the living room. She would be more than comfortable and she’d still be close enough to hear the children if they should need her during the night.
She turned to find Raymond standing in the doorway to the room. She saw him swallow heavily and watched as a strange look passed across his small face.
“My Mamma used to sleep here,” he said in a whisper, as if to speak of his mother would bring him punishment.
Emilie’s heart gave a lurch as she knelt to the floor in front of the child and gently took his small hand in hers.
“I know this was your Mamma’s room, Raymond. Your Papa said we should move down here until he comes back home. Would that be okay with you?”
He appeared to mull the matter over in his mind for a time. “I guess so. My Mamma died, you know . . .”
“I know . . . Do you miss your Mamma an awful lot?”
“Sometimes I do…but she was sick . . .and she screamed all the time . . .”
“Sometimes when people are sick they do things that seem bad, but it’s because they feel so sick they can’t help it. Maybe that’s why your Mamma was like that.”
He shook his head defiantly. “No. She screamed even before she got sick . . .”
“Was she pretty?” Maybe the child just needed to be reminded of the good things about his mother.
He shrugged his little shoulders, “I guess – not as pretty as you – and she was mean to Dada.”
What did one say to a child who had such memories of his deceased mother? She longed to be able to tell the child good things about his mother, but she had not known her. The only things she knew were the things that Martha had told her during their long talks together, but those were not the remembrances this child so desperately needed.
“Does your Dada have pictures of your Mamma?”
“No . . . one night my Dada was crying, and he threw them all into the stove. I watched him do it, but he didn’t see me . . . I was hiding.”
Emilie reached for the child and pulled him gently into her arms. She rocked him back and forth, her voice crooning her sympathy and support.
“Oh Raymond, I’m so sorry,” she said to him, her voice thick with emotion as she felt his small body shudder, and heard the tiny whimper he made.
Two small feet appeared at the doorway to the room, and Anne - Marie approached quietly. Sensing that all was not right with her brother she started to cry, softly at first and then more boisterously as she witnessed the closeness of Emilie and the boy.
“Come Anne-Marie,” Emilie beckoned the child into a three-way embrace. The little girl wiggled her way onto Emilie’s lap beside her brother, and her small arms joined his around Emilie’s neck. Their small arms were uncomfortably tight around her neck but she had never felt more needed in all her life.
She cuddled them for several minutes, then kissed them individually and firmly set them away from her. “Now, Meine Kinder Liebechons,” she began and Raymond started to giggle.
“What’s mine kindor ribbons? He giggled at his clumsy pronunciation.
“Liebechons – loves – my little loves,” Emilie translated softly. “Do you want to learn to say the words?”
Raymond moved his head in an up and down motion.
“Meine . . .”
“Mine . . .”
“No… Mine –e . . .”
“Mine-e . . .”
“Kinder . . .”
“Mine-e Kinder . . .”
“Liebechon . . .”
“I can’t say that one, Emilie . . .”
“Sure you can . . .Liebechon . . .”
“Leave shone . . .”
“Liebechon . . .”
“Lee-b-shone . . .”
“Now say the whole sentence . . .Meine Kinder Liebechon “My little love”.”
Raymond took a deep breath and scrunched his forehead in concentration, “Mine-e Kinder Lee-b-shone!”
Emilie clapped her hands in excitement and both children started to dance around the room.
“Teach me more!” he shouted in his excitement.
“No, I think you have learned enough German for one day. You must practice those words over and over again, until they are easy for you to say. Right now we have to get to work. First we must strip this bed and then remake it with fresh sheets. Then after we are done here we will clean your beds upstairs as well, for the next time you sleep there. Do you think you can help me with that chore?” She asked them both.
Two small heads nodded their agreement.
“We are going to bring your pillows and blankets down from your beds, and you both will sleep in your Dada’s bed until he comes home from the mountains. How does that sound?”
Raymond’s face lit to a bright smile; Anne-Marie nodded in eagerness to mimic her brother; but neither child spoke a word.
Together they stripped Karl’s bed and then Emily remade it with clean sheets she had found in the hall linen closet. Next they climbed the stairs to the bedroom above and striped all the beds there.
Emilie made a pile of the soiled linens, and realized that soon she would have to do some laundry. She had already gathered quite a stack of the children’s clothing that in her estimation were much too soiled to be worn one more time. She made a mental note to remember to ask Raymond where his father kept the washing machine.
The children followed her everywhere she went, especially Anne-Marie who never let Emilie slip from view. When Emilie turned with a armload of soiled linens blocking her view, she stumbled into Anne-Marie who stood so quietly that Emilie had not know her presence.
“Oh Anne-Marie, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to step on you,” she crooned and then dropped the bundle she was carrying and lowered herself to sit on the floor in front of the silent child. She opened her arms wide and beckoned the child onto her lap.
“Anne-Marie, when are you going to say some words for Emilie? I know you can talk, and I’d love to hear that pretty voice of yours,” she whispered into the child’s ear. Anne-Marie’s eyes danced with merriment, but she said not a word. Emilie gently hugged the child and kissed her rosy cheek, then released her.
As she watched the child run away in search of her brother she wondered what it was that had silenced the young child. More than anything she wanted to be able to reach this young one, but she knew to push at this stage would not get her any further with the child.
Emilie thought of Raymond’s recent admission. “One night my Dada was crying”. The notion of Raymond witnessing his father’s private pain distressed her immensely. She could not relate the vision of a weeping Karl to the man she was coming to know, but then she had not known him at the time of his wife’s death. Surely he had felt devastated to be left with two small children; surely he had felt loneliness the likes of which he had never felt before, and surely he had felt despair of ever having a normal home and family ever again.
Emilie pictured a weeping Karl, and felt a sudden kinship with the bereaved vision she imagined. She knew that she could help him, if he let her, and she knew even more that she could help his children. Already they seemed happier, more secure; imagine how much happier they would be if their father was happy too.
She lifted herself off the floor, brushed off her skirts, and with a new firm resolve in her heart, went off to find the two sweet children that she was beginning to love as surely as if they were her very own.