The River
make this?” she murmured, setting Anna’s head covering on the bed and leaning closer to look at the quilt.
    She studied the pattern and realized how many quilting bees and work frolics she’d missed out on during the past years. While she did not regret her modern life with Kris andtheir young daughters, Tilly had completely cut herself off from her family here.
    Reaching for the plastic bag, she went to the foot of the bed and opened the blanket chest, thinking she’d simply leave it inside. For Mamm to find later, she thought, hoping to bypass any painful discussion.
    Tilly could hear laughter floating up the steps— Mamm, Ruthie, and Josie, she thought. In that moment, she questioned her decision. Why was she doing this so secretively? Her mother had always been a person she could approach, in contrast to Daed’s detachment and seeming disinterest. Didn’t she deserve a personal explanation?
    Looking down at the little cap, Tilly changed her mind. She closed the lid to the blanket chest, took Anna’s head covering and the note, and returned them to her purse before quietly leaving the room.

Chapter 15
    B ack downstairs, by way of the main staircase in the heart of the house, Tilly noticed her mother sleeping in an easy chair over in the far corner of the hallway-like sitting area. Mamm kept her prettiest dishes in the narrow space, like a dining room but without any table. There were two upholstered chairs perched on either side of an old cherrywood desk Daed had made long ago. Mamm had always said this furniture would go to little Anna when she was married. “ That ’ s what Daed wants ,” she’d told both Tilly and Ruth.
    What does Mamm want? Tilly mused.
    In the kitchen, Tilly found Ruth cleaning up the dishes. “You’re working alone?”
    “It’s okay, really,” Ruth said, mentioning that Sam and Josie had gone out to check on the new calves for Daed. “And Mamm must’ve needed a snooze, too.”
    “Here, I’ll help you dry.” Tilly picked up the embroidered rose tea towel. “When we’re finished, let’s you and I walk back to Uncle Abner and Aunt Naomi’s together.”
    “Only if Daed’s feeling better.” Ruth paused. “I overheard Sam say he was ready to call 9-1-1.”
    “Well, Daed would not take well to it.”
    “Sam knows that.” Ruth stopped washing, her hands deep in the soapy water. Beads of perspiration lined her brow. “Honestly, I think it’s probably a good thing we made the trip back here when we did.”
    Tilly understood. “And I’m beginning to wish I’d stayed in touch better, too. Through all the years away, you’ve been the good daughter, writing letters to Mamm and others in our family.”
    “Well, but even so, I sometimes think I have a lot to make up for.” Ruth paused, suddenly looking at Tilly. “Not pointing fingers, mind you.”
    Tilly reached for another plate to dry. Mamm had written occasional letters and cards to her, but there had never been direct word from Daed. She had excused it, though, knowing most Amishmen were too busy plowing and planting and tending to the livestock to bother with letter writing.
    Ruth shrugged. “Of course, I’m not sayin’ I could ever return to the Plain life, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
    Tilly wondered why Ruth would say such a thing. Wasn’t that a given? There was no turning back for either of them. Not now.

    Ruth managed to match Tilly’s long stride during the walk to their uncle and aunt’s place. They talked about the anniversary party, especially the two new babies present. “Little ones who will grow up not knowing us,” Ruth said, feeling a little blue.
    “We’ve obviously made some big changes in the direction of our lives,” Tilly offered. “People make choices. Difficult as it was to go, I just couldn’t stay.”
    “That’s why we look to the Lord each and every day.” Ruth thought back to her younger days when she had been so carefree. Back then, she’d had not a single worry,

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