A summer visit– Part 1
A friend of mine has been keeping in touch with an Amish girl who attended our one-room schoolhouse. Gayleen and Rachel have been writing to each other at Christmas for many years now. They have visited several times over the years, including when Gayleen and Rachel’s children were quite young. At various time, other friends have been included on those visits.
When Gayleen talked about a girls’ day and going to see Rachel, I was delighted to be included in the plans. We discussed possible dates, Gayleen wrote to Rachel, and then Rachel selected one of those dates and wrote back. Thus the plan was made to visit her this June.
Since planning the visit, I’d been thinking especially of the Amish families who moved into our community, with their horses and buggies, and of the children who attended the same one-room school.
That experience, heavy with questions of a young child, opened my eyes to the world beyond my home and community, to the differences in people groups, to the questions I dared not ask of them. Years later, when I discovered the author Beverly Lewis and her books about the Amish people, her series, The Heritage of Lancaster County, reawakened the questions I had while attending school with the Amish children.
We met Tuesday morning at Bev’s home. When I arrived, there was Diane, a friend who now lives in BC, but who was back home in Ontario for a niece’s wedding. She had also visited Rachel on other occasions with Gayleen. Because of changing school boundaries, each one of us had met her at a particular school. For Gayleen and I, it had been the one-room school house we first attended.
With Bev as our driver, we set out for Lucknow at 10 am on a cool but sunny morning. The hour and a half sped by with conversations on what we had been doing, and family news, and catching up with Diane whom we hadn’t seen in a few years. Gayleen updated us on Rachel’s family, on her sons and daughters, all married, their locations, and her 15 grandchildren, three of whom we might meet on that visit.
We stopped for lunch outside Lucknow, before heading to Rachel’s home. She was expecting us about 12:30pm. In my bag was a hostess gift I had selected for Rachel, one which I had considered as a pleasing and appropriate hostess gift.
Following Rachel’s directions about the road and fire code number, we watched the country roads for particular markers and signs. We found her home easily enough. Two white frame houses, attached, and sitting along a tree-lined lane. Beds of blooming flowers graced the outside of the white frame houses with solid unpainted verandahs or porches at the front and side doors.
Rachel must have seen our car arrive, for by the time we turned in the yard and pulled up beside the home that we thought was hers, she was out the front door, standing on the verandah to greet us. We climbed the four wooden steps to her front porch and were introduced, in turn, by Gayleen. Though we had all known her, it had been some time since we had last seen her. For me, the length of time had been longest.
Rachel spoke quickly and with the same enthusiasm and warmth I remembered from our public school days. Still Rachel, with a smile and a twinkle in her blue eyes behind the narrow-rimmed glasses. She wore a dark blue long dress with long sleeves, and a long apron in royal blue hanging from her waist. Her neat white organdy prayer kapp was in place with the ties connected loosely under her chin, framing her long narrow face. Her feet, often barefoot in public school, were in stockings and solid black shoes. After initial greetings, she welcomed us into her home.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2