I sat reading a letter from Laura today. She talked about her daughter Rose, whom Charles and I love dearly, as well as her husband Almonzo. Laura and Almonzo had to leave their town of Walnut Grove three years ago. The whole town ended up moving, it was a big uproar. That happened last time Charles and I were there. Thank goodness we didn't live there at that time. They ended up moving to Sleepyeye. Charles, the children and I moved to Mankato because we couldn't work the farm anymore. So Charles runs the mill here, and I work in the restaurant. I feel comfortable there because that's what I did for so many years at Nellie's back in Walnut Grove. Mary and her husband Adam live in New York. He has a law practice and Mary is teaching at a blind school there. Carrie is getting ready to take her teaching exam and she wants to go teach in another place. James wants to work with Charles when he gets out of school. Grace and Cassandra are both growing up. Grace is eight and Cassandra is twelve. I remember when each of these children came into Charles' and my life. I was so young when Charles and I got married and Mary came along. Then Laura. Followed by Carrie and Grace. We adopted Albert the next year. Albert had a blood disease and he died a little over three years ago. Then Cassandra and James followed. Each one different, yet the same in some ways.
"Ma?" Grace walked over to me. She reminds me so much of Mary at her age. I touched her hair and smiled.
"Yes Grace?" I asked.
"You just seemed to be in another place." She said. I looked at her.
"I'm sorry. I got a letter from Laura today." I handed her the letter. "I guess you could say I was in another place. How I long that we could all be together again. Even just for a few minutes." I stated.
"How are they doing Ma? When will we get to see Rose and Laura again?" Grace questioned. I stood up and walked over to the window. I watched the wagons drive by on the road. I crossed my arms and then turned around to look at Grace. I heard and felt my dress shuffle on the floor as I walked towards her.
"Soon I hope Grace. I don't know. Laura said they want to come, but Rose is in school now and Almonzo has to tend the crops." I replied.
"Why can't she and Rose just come? She was a teacher. Can't she teach her?" Grace asked and I chuckled.
"Grace, when I write back to Laura I will ask her all of your questions." The door opened and I heard laughter. I turned around in time to see Cassandra rush past me with a girl from her school.
"Hi Ma!" She exclaimed. I laughed.
"Hi Cassandra." I paused. "Where are James and Carrie?" Cassandra stopped to think about that. Then she jumped up as if she realized the answer.
"James is fishing with a friend down at the lake and Carrie is still talking to Miss Adams. Miss Adams said that Carrie could teach the whole school tomorrow! I bet she's real nervous!" Cassandra giggled and then they rushed out of the room. I smiled. Just then Carrie walked in the door slowly. She was holding her books against her chest. She looked like she could be floating on a cloud. I walked over to her and touched her shoulder.
"Carrie?" I asked. She looked at me.
"Oh Ma. I'm sorry."
"Cassandra told us your great news. You get to teach the entire school. That's wonderful. It'll be practice for when you go and teach for yourself." I smiled.
"I'm just nervous Ma. What if I'm not a good teacher? You've taught my school before, I was in Laura's class, Mary's a good teacher. What if I'm not like you guys?" Carrie questioned. I tried to answer her seriously.
"You'll be fine Carrie. Just be yourself. Don't try being like anybody else." I walked behind her and patted the bun she'd put in her hair.
"What's the matter Ma?" Carrie asked nervously. I stifled a laugh.
"Nothing's wrong. I was just looking at your hair. I remember when I helped Laura put hers up when she went for her first teaching job. I used to sit with each of you for hours and help you brush out your hair. That was always my special time with you girls." Carrie got a tear in the corner of her eye.
"It sure was. What am I going to do without you there Ma?" Carrie questioned and hugged me tightly. I hugged her back.
"You'll do fine. Once you get into that classroom and see what those students are capable of you won't even think about home. And you can come home when you're done for the term. You can either go back or come home. See what you think first." I pulled away and wiped the tears out of her eyes. "But Carrie, you haven't even taken the test yet and you are already talking about going away?" I chuckled. "Why don't you go upstairs and do some of your school work and then I'll call you when your Pa is home and we can eat supper." I said. Carrie nodded. Slowly she walked out of the room. I turned around to see if Grace was still standing over against the wall. She wasn't. Well that would give me time to sit and reply to Laura's letter. Yes, all these children have definitely had an impact on my life and for the better.