Jonathan was in bed and fast asleep. Esther was in her favorite chair, a rocker that Benjamin had made her their first year in this new land. He had wanted her to have a comfort, and it still was after all these years. She sat and knitted socks tonight. As hot as it was, she knew that Summer heat meant that cold needed to be prepared for soon enough. Benjamin wore out so many socks and after awhile it was just too hard to mend them. He worked hard and his socks showed it. She not only wanted to keep him warm, but foot problems could keep them from working, it could be their survival. Also she was working on many socks for her Grandson, Jonathan. He didn't live with them all the time. But he often helped Benjamin and he stayed with them when his mother was busy birthing babies or tending the sick.
Benjamin was at his desk. He had built it also. It wasn't far from Esther's chair. Often they would spend the night with Benjamin reading aloud at his desk to her as she did her needlework. Benjamin was always surprised at all the different crafts that Esther knew. She made all of their clothes, knitted socks and hats and gloves for all of them. She made the quilts that covered their beds and the rugs beneath their feet. And when he thought she could do no more, she made fine lace for herself, their daughter, Jeanette, granddaughter Helga, and friends. She also helped Helga make lace to sell. She had started this tradition with Jeanette and it continued through the generations.
Many a night Esther and Benjamin had spent together and they had never run out of things to talk about, or to do. Benjamin, when he was not working on farm records, wrote down the family history and stories, often asking Esther's opinion on his writings. They also read to each other books they had brought from the old country and new ones they had found in this land. Their lives were rich and full.
Tonight though they anxiously awaited the return of Jeanette to let her know that, just as they had all thought would eventually happen, Jonathan had found Joseph. “It was bound to happen,”, Esther said again while she frantically knitted socks.
“He was not a bad man, Esther. In fact I am not convinced that he knew or had anything to do with the decision.”
“Oh, I am not questioning the decision, I was there, remember?”
“Yes, I do. All of you were there, for the birthing of Jonathan.”
“I surely would not fault the decision Eileen made that night. And I know it is selfish of me, but because of it, look at the love that we have had in our life. We all love Jonathan. Truly he is ours.”
“And he came to Jeanette at an important time,” Benjamin remembered. “She had so much loss, she needed something to help fill. She had Helga, but Jonathan finished the circle at that time.”
Just then their was a knock at the door and a voice, “Mama, Papa, it's me.”
Benjamin rose to open the door. Jeanette walked in with her midwifing basket. She reached up and kissed her Papa and bent down to do the same to her Mama. As tired as she was she still put the basket in it's place and sat in a chair across from her parents.
“That was the longest birth I have had in a long time.”
“Is everyone alright?” asked Esther.
“Yes. To be honest I didn't think they would be. But, Mary made it through and the baby was stronger than I thought. I still will check on them in the morning. But now, I need some rest. How is Jonathan?”
“He is fine. You know we never have trouble with Jonathan, he's such a good boy.” started Esther.
But before she could finish, Benjamin piped up, “There is something we have to tell you. Today Jonathan came home a little late for supper.”
“Oh, I am sorry, I'll talk to him.”
“No,” said Esther, “that isn't what we mean. He was out exploring and he came home telling us that deep in the woods he met a nice old man named Joseph who invited him to come back and visit him again”
Jeanette sat there as still as could be when she heard the news. Benjamin cleared his throat and looked to Esther for encouragement. She gently put her finger to her lips and then continued knitting. 'She is so much better at these quiet times than I am', Benjamin thought.
“It was bound to happen sooner than later,” said Jeanette.
“You two women always sound alike,” said Benjamin.
“How was he, was he alright, was he scared?” asked Jeanette with darting eyes to Benjamin.
“No, he was happy. Joseph seem to treat him just fine. And he has a dog. So you know how he is about that.” Answered Benjamin.
“I have been fussing about this all night,” said Esther. “And I have come to some reasoning within myself. I am glad he found him now. Now when he feels secure and loved and everyone is here to talk to him. I think it is better to fine out now rather than as a young man and full of wild oats.”
“That's a good point,” said Benjamin. And Jeanette nodded her head and searched for her extra work basket she kept at her parents. She always was able to calm herself with the gentle repetition of her hands working lace. Now was no exception. Before she was able to speak again, she got a good start on a tatted collar.
“Do you think Jonathan's alright? Do you think Joseph will try and change things?” finally asked Jeanette.
Benjamin let out a long loud sigh. “ I've been askin' myself that question all evening. I think that if Joseph had wanted to start trouble he would've done it already. He could've told the boy lots of things, even today on the first visit. But he didn't. He just let Jonathan know that he knew us, talked kindly of us, in fact. And then, he led the boy to our back pasture. He didn't have to do that Jeanette, but he did.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I told him , 'Yes we knew him'.” said Benjamin.
“I asked how his health was and Jonathan said he was mighty thin, but spry. He did notice about his legs and his arm, but he did not seem to go anywhere with that thought.”
“Didn't Helga know where Joseph was.” quietly asked Jeanette.
“Yes, she used to check on him regular. She stayed with him many a time when he was ill. She said he never asked about Jonathan all the times that she was there. It always amazed her. She said she kept it to herself. If he had wanted to know, he would've asked.”
“Where is Helga?” asked Esther. “My goodness I have let all this get to me to the point that I didn't notice my missing granddaughter.” She let out a nervous chuckle.
“Oh, I am sorry Mama. It slipped my mind also. I am just bone tired tonight. She stayed behind at Mary's house to help with the other children. She was afraid that if she did not that the mother would try to get up and fix supper. I was glad she was there. I was so focused on the baby, I was not really paying attention to the rest of the family.”
“She was always good at that, Jeanette, from the very beginning that she went with us on birthings.” said Esther.
“Yes, she always has been Mama that's true. Just tonight I had all my attention on Mary and baby and fortunately Helga noticed that the youngest girl had a cough and immediately started making a poultice and some tea for her. She sounded better already by the time I left.”
“What are you going to do?”, said Benjamin, bringing back the subject that no one really wanted to talk about.
“I am going to let him go Papa. There is no real reason not to let him visit Joseph. And we all know that there's nothing so tempting as being told not to do something. All I can do is answer his questions as they come and hope he continues to see our love here for him.”
“I don't believe you have to be concerned about that Jeanette. He is his Grandfather. And maybe, just maybe it has pained him also all these years to be away from his grandson. He did not have a say in the decision made. I'm not sure that I could be that strong.”
“I hope he tells me about it. I mean I hope he shares this with us, as he always has his joys and fears.” wistfully whispered Jeanette.
“There is no reason to think that he won't, Daughter.” said Esther. “We must remember that we know the past, we know the fears. All that Jonathan knows is that he made a friend today, that he sees as a family friend at that. And he willingly came home to share that with us. The only reason he did not tell you is that you were not here.”
“A friend with a dog at that.” said Benjamin to try to lighten the mood a little bit. . “I think our fears are just trying to deceive our hearts.”
“Yes, yes, I see what you both are saying,” said Jeanette. “Actually I am glad I was not here when he came home with the news. I'll be able to react better in the morning.”
“Heart to heart, Jeanette,” started Benjamin. “Neither one are doing anything wrong. Deep down inside don't you know think they know , that they know each other?”
“Truly, they must Papa. Truly. And I would not want to keep that from happening. But for now, all I want is to get some sleep. Will you wake me, if I sleep too long, Mama?”
Esther laughed. “I certainly will not. Helga's at the house if there is any problem she will send someone over or come herself. You'll be no good to anyone if you don't get your rest. Now go and sleep as long as your body or that baby wills.”
“ I'll sleep in the room with Jonathan. I want him to see me when he wakes up. And I want to fall asleep watching him breathe. Who would have believed Mama? Who would have believed that such love could grow from such fear?”
“I know dear, I know. Just get some rest.”
Jeanette got up and kissed her parents again and then went off to bed. Esther and Benjamin sat up long after Jeanette went to bed. “Do you think she is worried?” asked Benjamin.
“Of course, she is, we all are.” said Esther. “But I don't think she is contrary about it.”
“No, no.” said Benjamin. “Neither do I. She is a good woman, Esther, thanks to you.”
“Thanks to us and I believe thanks to herself. Jeanette works hard to be the woman she wants to be, and she is more than any mama and papa could ask for. We are so blessed to have her close and to be so much a part of the lives of her and the children. She shares her children and her life with us Benjamin. There's no reason to believe that she won't continue, or that she wouldn't give Joseph the same chance.”
“We must put this all to rest and we must go with it as it unfolds.” said Benjamin. “Very early in the morning we'll have a young boy awake and about and we must be ready.”
“Yes, very true.” said Esther as she put her knitting away.
Benjamin got up from his chair and took Esther's hand helping her out of the rocker. “May I escort you to bed, my dear.”
"Yes, yes,” said Esther. “Wouldn't want it any other way.”