The sun was low in the sky, evening coming on, when the buggy arrived. I stepped outside to see who was coming to visit, and it was a happy moment when I realized it was Anna, coming to say hello. As her father visited with my husband, I was so happy to get to talk with her.
Anna was a tiny 6-year-old when we moved to this farm. Her father asked permission for her to walk through our farm on her way to their Amish school, a request we were happy to grant.
I watched with wonder as that tiny girl made her way across the far horizon, carrying her lunch box, making her way across the fields and the pasture.
Many days, I would step outside and wish her a good day. Often, I would run to the window in time to wave as she passed through our yard on her way toward our lane, which would take her to the road on her long trek to school.
It became my day brightener, and felt like I had missed something on the days I had to leave for work too early or for whatever reason missed our morning hello. I realized that Anna looked for me just as I looked for her, a happy smile lighting up as she waved to me.
At the end of her school day, I would sometimes get the chance to talk to her briefly as she headed for home. It was obvious Anna enjoyed school, and it was fun for me to hear about her day. I would sometimes offer a little treat for her to enjoy on the rest of her walk home, making sure I offered enough for her younger sisters.
From time to time, Anna would draw a picture for me, and when she was once hurt in a fall, I took small gifts to her.
As each year passed, Anna grew taller, followed across that horizon by her younger siblings. I felt such relief that Anna was the big sister leading the way, no longer making that long walk alone, but showing the way for the sisters and eventually a brother for whom she cared so much.
I felt certain their teacher was happy to have Anna as a helpful pupil in the one-room country school.
So, I was thrilled on this late summer evening to see Anna arrive. As the years passed, I had fewer opportunities to see Anna and her siblings as my work schedule lengthened my days, and Anna began driving the buggy to school.
We had lots of catching up to do. I asked if school had started back up, and she answered that it very recently had, adding, “But not for me. I am done with school.” Anna is now 14, and this past school year ended her studies.
“Oh, Anna. Won’t you miss school?”
She shaded her eyes with her hand, looked toward the sunset, and with a little smile said, “I will not know.”
She chatted about her plans to help her mother with many projects, and told me they were able to add a couple more milk cows since Anna will have more time to help with the chores.
“When it gets winter, mother and I will have sewing to do after we get the younger ones off to school.”
She told me about each of her sisters and her brother, describing one sister as “so funny!” and another as “a bit stubborn at times” then told me the garden hadn’t done so well this year.
We talked as friends, concerned about a long winter in which there might be days of going without such things as green beans and potatoes due to this summer’s drought.
As Anna turned to leave that evening, after having said our good-byes, she turned back and said with a lovely smile, “You are always welcome to come visit us. Mother and I would enjoy your company.”
Little Anna has most definitely grown up.