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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Amy's Visit

Amy's Visit
September 1945
Part 1

In late August Livy and Daniel had made a trip to Wilson to do a bit of grocery shopping. Livy also needed more material for a quilt she was making for Daniel's crib, and to pick up the mail. In the pile of mail she saw a letter to Ray from Amy. She had seen at least two other letters in the past six months from her. Ray never spoke to her about the letters, or who Amy was. She was curious.

A couple of days later at lunch she got up the nerve to ask him about her. Ray was eating and jerked his head up, raised his eyebrows, stammered, and said she was just an old friend he knew from school. "Oh," said Livy. Ray didn't offer any more information and after lunch went back to the fields to work.

In mid September, a couple of weeks after this latest letter from Amy, Livy had been working in the garden and had just gone inside to check on Daniel. Ray was out doing some fall ploughing. She heard Franklin barking at something, and then heard a car come up the lane, so looked out the window to see who it was. She did not recognize the car. A woman got out of the car, looked around, greeted Franklin, then came to the house and knocked on the door. Livy was surprised by the visitor and wondered if it was a traveling sales person. When Livy came to the door the woman looked at Livy and saw her dirty hands and clothes. She asked where Ray was. She didn't bother to introduce herself. Livy took it on faith that they might be friends and told her he was in the fields ploughing.

"Oh, what field is he in?" asked the woman.

Livy looked surprised. Ray always made sure he told Livy where he would be working each day in case she needed him, or if she wanted to bring Daniel out to visit him so they could have lunch together. "He's in the north west field," Livy said.

"Oh," said the woman, "I know where that is."

Livy was perplexed. Who was she, and how did she know the farm so well? Livy herself did not know the farm extremely well, she just remembered that that was where Ray said he would be before he left in the morning. She then got very curious as to who this woman was and asked, "And your name is?"

"Oh, I'm Amy," she said nonchalantly, and walked to her car and drove out to the fields.

Amy drove to the north west field and saw Ray on the tractor ploughing. She waved at him. Ray saw the car and wondered who it might be. He knew it couldn't be Abby because she would be expecting Kent home soon from the war and wouldn't want to leave Denver. So who could it be? He finished the furrow he was on, and headed over to see who the visitor was. He was very surprised to see Amy.
"Did you get my letters?" demanded Amy, without so much as a smile and how are you.

"Yes," Ray said, looking at her skeptically.

"Why have you not written to me?" demanded Amy, "And who is that woman in your house? Is she some relative?"

Ray shook his head no.

"Well, a friend then, or your housekeeper?" Amy demanded to know. "And is there a baby there, too? I thought I heard a baby crying."

Ray looked at her quizzically and said, "No, the woman you saw is not a relative or my housekeeper, she's my wife. And, yes, we have a child."

"Your wife!" Amy screamed, "Since when?"

"Uh, since last July," Ray told her.

"What!" Amy shrieked, "How come you didn't tell me? How come you didn't write to me?"

Ray said, "No need. When you left to go to the city, I thought it was understood that it was over between us."

"What do you mean, no need? I needed to know," yelled Amy, "I wrote to you telling you I wanted us to start again."

"Well, we can't do that now," Ray said, "And, like I said already, since you were the one who left for the city I never had any plans for us to start over."

"You mean you didn't want to?" asked Amy.

He shook his head and said, "That's right."

Amy yelled, "Well, why in hell didn't you write to me? I needed to know that!"

Ray was taken aback by her response. He knew she would be upset, and even mad at him, but he didn(t expect her to yell and swear like she was. "I didn't write you because I had not heard from you in years, until recently, and because, as far as I was concerned, things with me and you had not changed," he paused and then said, "And because I am married now."

Amy was mad! "What do you mean things had not changed? At the harvest ball two years ago you seemed to indicate that there might be a chance!"

"Well, maybe at that time there might have been," Ray said, "But when you went back to the city, and I did not hear from you till a few months ago, no, for me, no chance at all."

"And why would that be?" asked Amy, "Because you were planning to get married?"

"No, nothing to do with my getting married," Ray said, "I wasn't even planning on it then. I had decided before that that there was no chance of us getting back together, but thought you would understand if I didn't write. Don't have time to write many letters except for business things concerning the farm."

Amy was exasperated! "That's no way to treat me, someone you used to love!" she yelled at him.

"I know," said Ray, "I'm sorry, I didn't handle that well. But you were the one who left me suddenly without much explanation. I know that you wanted us to, uh, you know," Ray was embarrassed, "Uh before marriage, and I didn't want to do that. When you left suddenly I had no idea where you were, what you were doing for months, and then years."

Amy snorted, "Well, if you don't answer letters, how else could you find out anything?"

"Well," Ray responded, "I suppose I could have asked your family, but didn't want to intrude. I just wanted to get on with my life, too. You went to the city, and I thought that was where you wanted to be."

"Oh, you men, think you know all about us women, don't you?" said Amy angrily, "I have always loved you Ray."

Ray looked at her, searching her face for the truth of that admission. He did not see it. He just saw anger. He figured that she was not married, and probably had had a few boyfriends by now, and since none of those relationships had panned out she wanted to come back to him.

Ray said quietly, "Amy, I'm married now."

"Well, why the hell didn't you tell me?" she said angrily.

Ray did not like the fact that she swore, and that she was so angry she was yelling at him. "Amy, I think it is time for you to go," he said.

"Oh, sure, send me back to the city where there's no, I mean," and here her voice trailed off, and her angry face showed some sadness. He knew it. She had not done well in the city and was looking to hook up with him again, a simple farmer, whom she had said she loved at one time, but also had left him for city life when he wouldn't give in to her wanting to consummate their relationship without being married.

"Amy, I have work to do, and I suggest that you leave," he said. Amy looked at him disdainfully but did not want to leave. "Amy, you know about farming and farm work, I have to get this ploughing done before the weather gets colder," Ray said.
"All right then!" she said, "But you have not heard the last of me!"

Amy drove to the house, and was thankful that Ray could not see the house from the field he was working in, so therefore could not see that she stopped there. She knocked on the door. Livy came to the door carrying a child. So this is Ray(s wife, and his child, she said to herself.

"Oh," Amy said, "Is that your child?"

Without thinking, Livy smiled and proudly said, "Yes, he is."

Amy asked, "And how old is he?"

Livy was skeptical. She did not know this woman, and she was curious about her conversation with Ray, and did not want to tell her anything about Daniel.

"Didn't Ray tell you?" Livy finally asked in answer to Amy's question.

"No," said Amy flatly, "He didn't."

"Well," said Livy,"Since you are his, um, acquaintance."

And before Livy could say another word Amy started to scream at Livy, "I am NOT his acquaintance!" she said snarkily, "We have known each other since high school, and we used to date back then, and were planning to get married!"

Livy was shocked at this information, but also shocked at the way Amy yelled it out to her. Livy took a moment to digest this, and gathered her resolve and said, "If Ray is your friend, and he didn't tell you, then I don't think it is my place to tell you."

"Oh, don't get all pious and holy with me, I can find out things if I want to, and I don't have to ask Ray! I used to live around here and there are plenty of people around town who, I am sure, will be happy to tell me whatever they know!" And with that, she turned and stomped off to her car, yelling and swearing about how she'll get him back for this! Livy covered Daniel's left ear with her free hand and moved his head closer to her shoulder so he wouldn't hear Amy's angry voice and swear words.

It was a very long afternoon for Livy and Daniel, that stretched into the early evening. Amy had arrived at the farm about 2:00 in the afternoon and left about 4:00, so she had spent less than two hours with Ray. Livy knew he hadn't told her much, if anything, about her and Daniel, but what had they talked about for almost two hours?

Livy heard Ray come into the yard on the tractor about 7:00, and then he had chores to do in the barn before he came into the house for supper. Livy had supper on the table by the time he came in. He hung up his hat and coat and came into the dining room. He glanced up at Livy, he did not look happy, and said, "I'm not hungry."
Livy said softly, "Ray, please eat something. I know you must be hungry."

He wiped his hand over his face and pulled at his bottom lip and chin, walked to the sink and washed his hands and face. It seemed to take him forever to dry his hands. He folded the towel and draped it on the sink, and stood staring out the window into the darkness.

"Ray," Livy said softly, and came over to the sink and stood beside him. She put her arms around him. He was absorbed in his thoughts and was a bit startled by her touch, but looked down at her and a smile played at the corners of his mouth. He couldn't help it, he couldn't let the anger toward Amy taint his feelings when this wonderful woman, his wife, was by his side trying to give him comfort. He turned to face her, and put his arms around her, and held her tightly for a few moments, not saying a word. He slowly relaxed his hold on her, tipped her head back, looked into her eyes and said, his voice thick with emotion, "Livy, I love you so much."

Livy smiled up at him and said, "I know that, Ray, I know you do."

He drew her to him again and held her. "Thanks," he said quietly.

Livy wanted to ask about Amy, but this was not the time. She savoured the moments they spent together, and did not want to spoil these precious minutes with talking about her.

Livy heard Ray's stomach rumble, and she said to him gently, "You should have something to eat."

He nodded, and finally was willing to reluctantly release her from his embrace. Just at that moment Daniel let out a squeal, they both laughed, and went to attend to him. Ray picked him up out of the playpen, raised him over his head, and said, "Let's fly to your high chair." Daniel giggled, he loved when his daddy helped him fly.

Daniel and Livy had already had their supper, but they liked to sit with Ray while he ate his and talk about the days events. Tonight was no different, except Ray did not say much about Amy. He said that she had wasted about two hours of his time arguing with him, and that is time he could not get back. He had so much work to do and that was an intrusion he did not welcome. Livy knew how angrily she had spoken to her, so she could just imagine how she must have spoken to Ray.

Livy said softly, "Do you want to tell me about her?"

"No, not right now," said Ray.

"Well," Livy said, "I have to tell you that she was asking questions about Daniel and I, and I didn't tell her anything, just that Daniel is my child."

Ray looked up from his plate. "That's good," he said.

"Well, maybe not, she threatened to ask around town about me."

This time Ray's head jerked up. Livy saw the anger in his face. He shook his head, "Well, one thing for sure, Rev Case and his wife, my sister and her family won't be telling her anything. I can't say for sure about anyone else."

Livy said, "Ray, you told me a long time ago that people wouldn't ask questions, they just want the best for us, but from what I saw today, Amy might just be the one to poke her nose into things that are not her business."

Ray slowly nodded his head, "Yeah, you could be right." He put his hand over hers, looked lovingly into her eyes and said, "Whatever they might say about us should not be our concern. But if the gossips want to tell what they know, we can't stop them."

Livy said, "I know. But Ray, I'm afraid."

"Afraid of what?" he asked.

"Well, she was very angry with me for not telling her anything, and I said that it would be your place to tell her, and she yelled at me." Tears came to Livy's eyes as she said this, "And", the tears started to fall as she continued, "She swore and yelled at me as she stomped off to her car. I had to cover Daniel's ears."

Ray stood up quickly from the table, almost knocking his chair over, which startled Daniel. He came over to Livy and practically lifted her out of her chair and put his arms around her. "Oh, my darling, Livy, I am so sorry she treated you like that."

Livy clung to him, crying, and he held her close. She had not realized until that moment how Amy's demeanor had affected her. Wrapped in Ray's loving arms she could hear his heart beating, and could smell the soap and earth smell of him that she loved. She felt comfort in his arms. Daniel started to fuss, so they turned their attention to him.

Ray said softly, "Livy, we'll get through this. Its not like you're the first girl that has gotten pregnant and sent away."

Livy nodded and said, "Umhm."

They spent the rest of the evening talking about their day, the things they were working on. Livy told him about her progress with the quilt, and garden work she had done, and stories about Daniel. They drew comfort from the ordinary things of their day, and tried to put Amy out of their minds, for the moment.

They went to bed a little earlier than usual because Ray had to get back to the fields even earlier the next day because of the couple of hours he needed to catch up on. They held each other close for a while, talking quietly, reassuringly, and then rolled over to go to sleep. Livy could not sleep.
She played out the short exchange she had with Amy over and over in her mind. When she did finally get to sleep it was a fitful one.

The next day Ray got up earlier than his usual time, Livy was still asleep. He did not wake her knowing Daniel would do that when he needed her, but gave her a kiss on the cheek. After his breakfast and chores he took his coffee and went out to the fields, and left Livy a note telling her which field he would be starting to work in. Livy and Daniel brought Ray some lunch around noon. He loved that. These were long days in the fields and any chance to see her and Daniel was always welcomed. He knew they would not stay long, but their visits were always a great break.

A couple of days later Rev Case dropped by the house. He said he was out visiting in their neighbourhood so thought he would drop in. Livy told him Ray was in the fields doing the fall ploughing. Rev Case said, "Well, I would like to talk to the both of you, maybe you could come over to our house on Sunday after church for coffee." Livy surmised what he wanted to talk to them about, and just said, "I think that will be fine, Rev Case. Ray tries to keep Sunday a holy day, and a family day, and not do too much work unless he has to." Rev Case smiled and nodded, "Well, we'll see you then."

Livy told Ray about the coffee invitation from Rev Case, and he knew then that it was probably about Amy poking her nose into his business. Ray said, "I look forward to talking to them. Are you all right, Livy?"

She smiled at him and said, "I'm fine, Ray, no one swore or yelled at me today." Ray smiled and said, "Glad to hear that, Livy."

Rev Case's wife was so happy to see Daniel. It almost seemed that she was happier to see him than them! Daniel enjoyed the attention given to him by Mrs Case.

When they were seated, Rev Case said, "I have not seen her myself, but I have heard that Amy has been in town. Some people have told me she is saying some things about you two."

Ray reached over and took Livy's hand in his. Rev Case smiled when he saw this small but significant gesture. It made him very happy to know that he played a role in getting these two together. He was pleased that he could help Rev Dunne's daughter with her situation, and grimaced to think that this lovely woman could have been married to any number of old bachelors or widowers in the county. He could see that he had made the right choice for them.

"I believe that things happen for a reason," said Rev Case, "And usually this reason is examples of how God uses situations like this to strengthen our faith and understanding. The two of you have been very wise not to turn this situation into gossip, like I have heard from a few others that Amy has. And it is not for me to say why she is doing that, I can only surmise that God is leading her in a different direction to teach her some lessons of life. So I want you two to pray for understanding of what God's lesson is for you both. Maybe its to turn the other cheek when someone smites you. Or it could be a lesson of forgiveness. Maybe it's the lesson of loving or praying for someone even when that person seems to want to do you harm. Or maybe it's the lesson of loving and supporting each other in good times and bad. These things are between you two and God, and I just ask you to keep praying for help and guidance from Him, and support each other through the troubled times so that the good times feel better. Let us pray."

Livy and Ray looked at each other and smiled warmly. Livy was reminded again of what Ray had said to her on her first day as his wife, "Maybe its God's will."

They thanked Rev and Mrs Case for their counsel, and the coffee, cake and conversation after, and started toward home to their farm with a little extra strength from them and God to help them deal with the problem that Amy presented..

It was such a lovely fall day that on their way home they decided to go for a drive. Livy said to Ray, "Is there something you want to tell me?"

Ray looked quizzically at Livy. "No," he said hesitatingly.

"After all we have been through, and you questioning me about Edward, don't you think I have a right to know about Amy?" Livy asked with an angry edge to her voice. Daniel could feel her tense up and started to fuss, so Livy tried to comfort him by showing him his toy dog. He just waved his arms and batted it out of her hands onto the floor of the truck.

Ray didn't say anything for a moment. He really didn't want to tell her about Amy. He felt embarrassed that he and Amy had almost got to the point of consummating their relationship without being married. He was the one to stop them, and Amy was not happy with him, and decided to leave Ray and Wilson and look for work in the city. Now he just wanted the situation to disappear. He could feel Livy's eyes on him. "Uh, well, I guess since I felt a need to know where you stood with Edward, it is only fair for you to ask me the same question of Amy."

Ray was not comfortable with this at all. He just sat there driving the truck with a sad look on his face. So many memories were coursing through his brain. Memories he wanted to leave buried there. But beside him was his wife, the woman he loved, expecting an answer to her question.

To Be Continued