Two weeks passed as though in a dream. On the outside, everything went on as usual – we took long walks outside when the weather permitted. I carried on with my painting, Catherine with her needlework. By the end of the vacation, I completed portraits of all the little ones, while Catherine had made her first batch of baby things – sweaters, booties, hats and even a blanket.
Aunt Anne started looking at me with an oddly approving way ever since I volunteered to take some ironing off her hands. Don't get me wrong, I didn't suddenly begin to like ironing or something. But Aunt Anne is not feeling her best, that's obvious – and there's a limit to what Catherine can do on her own.
A day before he was to depart, David told us he is sorry to leave so soon.
David, Catherine and I were sitting downstairs next to the fireplace. After a long, full day, Rachel fell asleep in Catherine's lap, and Catherine was gently rocking her while we talked in quiet voices. It was very quiet – the boys were busy doing a puzzle at the opposite corner of the room.
"It must be really interesting in college, isn't it?" I asked.
"Yes," he nodded, "but it's different, all different. The people aren't the same – I'm not the same, Becky. Home is here. " he looked around, his stare tenderly lingering on Rachel's sleeping face, "I'm not even sure how to explain this, but here I feel so real. Now that I've been away for several months, I understand that our parents have always worked on creating a place where each one of us would feel loved and accepted, while being nothing more or less than himself or herself. When I have a home of my own, someday, I would like to give my children a childhood similar to what we had with Mom and Dad. They are extraordinary people."
Extraordinary people. Well, when I first arrived here, it sure seemed extraordinary to me to have no TV and dress in long skirts, not to mention all the other weird religious rituals kept in this house. I felt stifled. But now I sensed that Aunt Anne and Uncle Ben are, indeed, not only weird beyond weird – there's something more about them, even though they can be a pain in the neck. However annoying they might be, I feel welcomed and cared for with them. And in a way, as much as it pained me to admit this, looking at them made me think they are more like what parents should be than my own Mom and Dad ever were.
Our conversation was interrupted by Aunt Anne, who entered the room to remind David to email her and Uncle Ben at least once a week, which David promised he would do.