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20 8 May starts off cool. The calendar in the living room reads May 8, 1905. Maria is awakened by someone shaking her arm. Mother is standing in front of her bed holding a light in her hand and motioning her to get up. With a shiver, the girl crawls out of the warm straw bed. In her under­ shirt and barefooted, she follows Mother down the wooden stairs and hops across the cold stone floor into the living room. Grandmother has already lit the fire. A bowl of warm water is standing ready. Mother helps her daughter bathe. Fathers nods kindly to the child and puts on his heavy hobnailed boots. Slowly the day dawns, pale and misty, outside the window . Mother hands a new linen shirt to Maria. It clings cold and heavy to her skin. For the first time Maria puts on a pair of drawers with long lace-trimmed legs and buttons. The girls and women in the village do not wear drawers, not even in winter. The long woolen stockings that Maria puts on have been knitted by Mother.They are fastened to her bodice with straps. The high lace shoes have been custom made for her. The warm underskirt is long and the new dress with puffed sleeves made out of dark blue cloth, reaches down to her shoes. Mother combs the child’s hair and ties it with a bow. Puzzled, Maria lets it all happen. Over the past few weeks, Mother has taken her to the dressmaker and to the cobbler in Lommersdorf for fittings. Why ever is she being dressed up so nicely? Mother is wearing her best dress. It has spherical buttons and the wide collar is embroidered with little black pearls. A small brooch is pinned to the collar. She has made fresh butter from white cream. Now she spreads it on long slices of bread, as thickly as only Father usually gets it. There is even an egg and hot milk. Mother wraps the buttered slices of bread in a clean dishtowel and puts them with a few hardboiled eggs, sausage, bacon, Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 20 4/26/2017 12:17:33 PM The Stories They Told Me  21 a whole loaf of bread, and dried plums into the oval travel basket with its two lids opening up toward the handle. After breakfast, Father takes down Maria’s new coat from the hook. She has never worn a coat before, neither Mother nor Grandmother even own one. Mother wraps her wide woolen shawl round her shoulders. Little Maria is given a new headscarf. Father looks out of the window at the gray morning, then he puts on his jacket and goes out into the yard with the travel basket. Grandmother cries and blows her nose. She makes the sign of the cross on the girl’s forehead. Maria throws her arms around the old woman’s neck and gives her a kiss. “Ma-i-a,” she says, and indicates with her hand that she will return. Grandmother nods tearfully. In the yard, Father has hitched the horse to the boxcart and stands waiting . Aunt Barbara waves from the window. She hands out a bundled cloth full of sweets. Maria takes the bundle and Aunt Barbara claps her hands together in amazement at how fine Maria looks! Maria strokes her hand over her coat, sticks out her tummy, and makes loud, happy noises. Aunt Barbara shakes Maria’s hand and says,“Farewell.” What is this? she wonders . She is going away with Father and Mother, but where? Why? The little deaf girl cannot imagine. But she feels joy in the knowledge that something special is happening, and everyone is being particularly nice to her. Mother has already climbed up onto the cart, which is normally used to carry potatoes, turnips, sand, stones, and even manure. Now clean boards have been fitted to the sides and a board laid across as a seat, covered with the horse blanket. Father helps Maria up into the cart, climbs up himself, takes the reins in his hands, and flips them gently on the horse’s back. The cart rolls off. Grandmother and Aunt Barbara wave and Maria waves cheerfully back. The horse trots down the road toward Grindel Creek. The day is brightening. The dew in the meadows glistens. Wisps of mist float up out of the valleys like long white strips of cloth. The blackthorn bushes bear fat buds...


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Subject Headings

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