Just the other week, I was visiting with my friend, Katie Lapp. I hadn’t seen her in a while…in fact, not since her husband, Jonas, died. She had taken his death very hard, despite the fact that he had been quite ill for several years. So it was nice to pop into the house for a visit and be greeted with her familiar cheerful smile and attentiveness.
She was making a quilt, a beautiful white on white quilt. It was to be a wedding gift for young John David who had just gotten married two months back. The quilt was HUGE…probably queen size…which surprised me.
On the other side of the quilting frame, which was in the middle of her kitchen, was Jonas Junior, Lillian’s husband. As the patriarch of the family, he was more talkative than I remembered from years past. In fact, while I was such good friends with his wife, I don’t remember ever having talked to Junior when I stayed on the farm. Funny that the Lapp boys were always so quiet and shy…all of them except Emanuel.
What I really liked about that visit was that Katie’s son was spending a Saturday afternoon, reading the newspaper in the fading light of the day while Katie quilted. They were quiet until I walked in and, as usual, I talked away, updating them on my life and asking questions about theirs. I’m not good with “quiet”…a fault that I had even twenty+ years ago. Quiet makes me nervous…makes me chatter. I think that was one of the things that Emanuel liked about me.
But Katie made a few funny comments about when I stayed there such as remembering how much energy I had and how I love animals. I really couldn’t believe what I heard. How could she remember that? When I asked her that, she laughed and said that she keeps a diary and (I quote) “Just the other day I was reading back and came upon some entries from when you were here.” She paused. “That was quite an interesting time for us.”
I knew what she meant. The Amish are the masters of saying so much by saying so little. For any of you that read Fields of Corn, you might remember how Katie wasn’t too thrilled about Shana’s presence on the farm…nor in Emanuel’s interest in her. I remember all too well how Katie would look at me over the top of her glasses, one eyebrow delicately raised as she kept an eye on her son’s interactions with me. I’m sure she was quite glad when I had to return to the Englische and Emanuel eventually moved on, got married, and had children.
Since that time, I’ve been out to the Lapps so many times but I have never seen Emanuel again. I wonder what that reunion will be like. Will he be like Junior, looking so much like his father…more mature? More patriarchy? Or will he retreat to the shy ways of the Lapp boys from the past? I wonder…