I love children, but I can't possibly imagine having so many of them under one roof and caring for them all, as Emilie does. But my mother could. She raised 5 children of her own, and had 27 foster children. She was an amazing mother, she gave every child in her care her time and her love, and still had time to make our clothes, cook and clean and can, garden, knit, crochet... and did it all with a smile. So many times when I was writing a segment of Emilie and the children, I did so with Mom in mind.
These days mothers have less children, bigger homes, work away from home and have different challenges - but in the end we are all mothers. So now lets get back to the story and see how Emilie is coping...
Don't forget the contest to win a copy of Stroke of Love begins tomorrow. Make sure you are registered as a follower before it begins!
Winter Wheat Chapter 9
Charles Bell did not return to Karl’s home with his sons and Frederich later that day. Instead he was committed to a Provincial Sanitarium for the mentally ill directly from Dr. Smith’s office. No one knew the length of time he would remain there, all that was told to those caring for his children was that he would remain for treatment until the physicians there deemed him fit enough to return to his family. Seven children were left without a parent, and because it was not known if there was any extended family to contact, the children remained with Frederich and Annie, and Karl Wright and Emilie Freiheit. The authorities that Karl had spoken of to Emilie never arrived.
If anyone thought it odd that an unmarried couple was caring for a pack of children belonging to another man, they never admitted it, nor did they comment on the fact that Frederich and Annie finally seemed to have the family they had always dreamed of; all be it years later than they had planned.
The day following Charles’ confinement, Annie and Frederich were back in Karl’s home making long-term arrangements for the care of all the Bell children.
“We need to make some changes, Emilie. You have too many young children to care for. I think it would be better if we split the children up more evenly.” Annie was in control, and was determined to see her plan through.
Emilie looked up from the pile of mending she was attempting to conquer. “What do you mean?”
Annie reached into the can of assorted buttons and selected one the correct size for the shirt she worked on.
“You have all the work, my dear. Sue is the only one here who can really fend for herself or be of any help to you. And look at little Warren – he is such a delicate wee one – he takes up so much of your time that you can’t do the things you need to do for the others!”
Emilie’s glance swept the room until her eyes found Warren. Annie was right; Warren needed much more attention and care than the other children. He cried almost continuously and the only way he would settle was if he was held and rocked - he needed constant reassurance that someone was close by at all times, and that made it very difficult for her to tend to the needs of the whole family.
“I don’t know what to do with him sometimes.” Emilie admitted to her friend, “All he wants is to be held.”
“God knows what the child is remembering. None of the children have talked much about the fire, or even about their mother for that matter, but I have no doubt they will when the right time comes. But Warren is different . . .”
“So what should we do, Annie?” Emilie let her hands rest on the mended clothes and waited for the older woman’s words of wisdom.
“I think Frederich and I should take Warren, for starters. I have more time to give him than you do. Karl could use the older boys help around the farm too, so maybe George and Charles Jr. should come live here and Fred will stay with us. He’s a good strong boy, and already he has become quite attached to Frederich. We should take one more of the younger children - either Joseph or Richard, or maybe even both.”
“No, not Richard - he and Raymond are inseparable already.” Emilie sighed and couldn’t help feeling guilty for picking and choosing the children like they were little pawns in a game. They were all precious in their own way, but Annie was right, in the long run, things would be much better for them all if the ages were more evenly distributed.
And so it was decided that George, Charles Jr., Sue and Richard would stay with Karl and Emilie; Fred, Joseph and Warren would go to live with Annie and Frederich.
“It is done then!” Annie declared, her tone implying that there would be no more discussion on the subject.
Emilie nodded in response and wondered how the children would take to the new living arrangements.
“The other thing is that the children must visit each other often. They must never be made to forget that they are a family, even though they no longer live under the same roof.”
“I agree, Annie. They must still feel like a family at all times.”
Annie nodded her head in agreement, and so the new living arrangements were set in place and life started anew for the children of Charles and Mary Bell.
When their visitors left later that afternoon, Emilie asked everyone to gather at the kitchen table.
“We have to decide where everyone is going to sleep tonight. Karl, I think you should bring Anne-Marie’s bed across to my side of the room upstairs. Sue can sleep there, and Anne-Marie will sleep with me.”
“I’ll sleep on the chesterfield, Emilie,” George offered, before she could say anything further.
“Gut… Charles Jr. you will sleep in Raymond’s bed…” her brow pinched tightly in thought. “We don’t have enough beds, Karl! We still need beds for Raymond and Richard!”
“Would one large bed do? There is an old iron frame in the barn. George can help me drag it down from the loft and I’ll make some rails for it. You’ll have to figure out a mattress though.”
“That will do,” she took a deep breath and began issuing orders. “Karl and George, you go get the frame. Sue you fill a bucket with warm water and put some laundry soap in it. Charles Jr. you take Richard and Raymond upstairs and pull Anne-Marie’s bed to the other side of the curtain.”
No one would have considered disobeying her commands. In minutes the group had scattered to their prospective tasks and only Anne-Marie remained still seated at the table.
“Well lieben, what do you think?” She lifted the small child from the chair and danced across the room with her held firmly in her arms. She hummed a few bars of the Blue Danube Waltz as she moved until Anne-Marie became too heavy in her arms.
“Come Anne-Marie, lets you and I make some supper now. Then we will check and see how things are going upstairs.”