Bess Streeter Aldrich · 251 pages
Rating: (4.5K votes)
“You have, to dream things out. It keeps a kind of an ideal before you. You see it first in your mind and then you set about to try and make it like the ideal. If you want a garden,—why, I guess you've got to dream a garden.”
“There is no division nor subtraction in the heart-arithmetic of a good mother. There are only addition and multiplication.”
“I think that love is more like a light that you carry. At first childish happiness keeps it lighted and after that romance. Then motherhood lights it and then duty . . . and maybe after that sorrow. You wouldn't think that sorrow could be a light, would you, dearie? But it can. And then after that, service lights it. Yes. . . . I think that is what love is to a woman . . . a lantern in her hand.”
“You know, Grace, it's queer but I don't feel narrow. I feel broad. How can I explain it to you, so you would understand? I've seen everything...and I've hardly been away from this yard....
I've been part of the beginning and part of the growth. I've married...and borne children and looked into the face of death. Is childbirth narrow, Grace? Or marriage? Or death? When you've experienced all those things, Grace, the spirit has traveled although the body has been confined. I think travel is a rare privilege and I'm glad you can have it. But not every one who stays at home is narrow and not every one who travels is broad. I think if you can understand humanity...can sympathize with every creature...can put yourself into the personality of every one...you're not narrow...you're broad.”
“The greatest antidote in the world for grief is work, and the necessity of work.”
“All my girlhood I always planned to do something big…something constructive. It’s queer what ambitious dreams a girl has when she is young. I thought I would sing before big audiences or paint lovely pictures or write a splendid book. I always had that feeling in me of wanting to do something worth while. And just think, Laura…now I am eighty and I have not painted nor written nor sung.”
“But you’ve done lots of things, Grandma. You’ve baked bread…and pieced quilts…and taken care of your children.”
Old Abbie Deal patted the young girl’s hand. “Well…well…out of the mouths of babes. That’s just it, Laura, I’ve only baked bread and pieced quilts and taken care of children. But some women have to, don’t they?...But I’ve dreamed dreams, Laura. All the time I was cooking and patching and washing, I dreamed dreams. And I think I dreamed them into the children…and the children are carrying them out...doing all the things I wanted to and couldn’t.”
“There ought to be a home for children to come to,—and their children,—a central place, to which they could always bring their joys and sorrows,—an old familiar place for them to return to on Sundays and Christmases. An old home ought always to stand like a mother with open arms. It ought to be here waiting for the children to come to it,—like homing pigeons.”
“She thought of her younger days,—the gleam which seemed always ahead,—of the vague allure which accomplishing something in the arts had always held for her. And now she was nearly fifty and she was not to know the fruition of any of those hopes.
"Oh Will, I am so disappointed," she said to that invisible comrade who was only spirit and memory. "I can only feel those things,—not do them."
Isn't motherhood, itself, an accomplishment?
She knew that she made her own answer, and yet it gave her a sense of satisfaction and peace. Will might said it. It sounded like him.
"But I've made so many mistakes.... Will.... even in that."
You are a good mother, Abbie-girl."
Yes, it gave her a sense of peace and comfort.”
“Abbie would stop in her work and utter a prayer for him,—and, sent as it were from the bow of a mother's watchful care, bound by the cord of a mother's love, the little winged arrow on its flight must have reached Some one,—Somewhere.”
“Home was something besides so much lumber and plaster. You built your thoughts into the frame work. You planted a little of your heart with the trees and the shrubbery.”
“Abbie Deal went happily about her work, one baby in her arms and the other at her skirts, courage her lode-star and love her guide,—a song upon her lips and a lantern in her hand.”
“If the faith of all the mothers could blossom to its full fruition, there would be no unsuccessful men in the land.”
“And standing there... old Abbie Deal began to cry. They are the most painful tears in the world...the tears of the aged...for they come from dried beds where the emotions have long burned low.”
“That was the trouble of being old. Your body no longer obeyed you. It did unruly and unreasonable things. An eye suddenly might not see for a moment. Your knees gave out at the wrong time, so that when you thought you were walking north, you might find yourself going a little northwest. Your brain, too, had that same flighty trick. You might be speaking of something and forget it temporarily,—your mind going off at a little to the northwest, too, so to speak.”
“Will laughed. 'You're quite a dreamer, Abbie-girl.'
Abbie did not laugh. She was suddenly very sober. 'You have to, Will.' She said it a little vehemently. 'You have to dream things out. It keeps a kind of ideal before you.”
“And now Abbie had the new experience of attempting to keep another person courageous. It was more trying than to keep up her own spirits. Why must she always be strong for other people?”
“You have to dream things out. It keeps a kind of an ideal before you. You see it first in your mind and then you set about to try to make it like the ideal. If you want a garden,-why, I guess you've got to dream a garden.”
“What makes it smell so sweet?" they wanted to know. "Because everything,--every little wild plum-blossom, every little tiny crocus and anemone and violet and every tree-bud and grass-blade is working to help make the prairie nice.”
“The wind was blowing from the east and the cedars bent before it,—blowing from the east like the breath of the war god. And Fred and Stanley were waving their hats gayly back to her, while the cedars bent and the wind blew from the east. They were like her own boys marching off to war. Children of her children, she loved them as she had loved their parents. Did a woman never get over loving? Deep love brought relatively deep heartaches. Why could not a woman of her age, whose family was raised, relinquish the hold upon her emotions? Why could she not have a peaceful old age, wherein there entered neither great affection nor its comrade, great sorrow? She had seen old women who seemed not to care as she was caring, whose emotions seemed to have died with their youth. Could she not be one of them? For a long time she stood in the window and looked at the cedars twisting before the east wind, like so many helpless women under the call from the east.”
“For some reason little Laura Deal continued to be Abbie's favorite grandchild. The little girl answered Abbie's deep love for her with an affection equally sincere,—or perhaps it was the other way. Perhaps the fact that Laura held such admiration for her grandnmother enkindled its answer in Abbie's heart. From the time Laura was five she had brought her grandmother little stories of her own composition. Abbie had them all in safe keeping, just as she had everything else which had ever come into her possession.”
“And so they discussed it seriously, Abbie who knew that one may laugh with a child but at him, and Laura, who knew that Grandma was one unfailing source of sympathy and understanding in a world which was beginning to be critical.”
“There are many memories. but I'll tell you the one I like to think of best of all. It's just a homely everyday thing, but to me it is the happiest of them all. It is evening time here in the old house and the supper is cooking and the table is set for the whole family. It hurts a mother, Laura, when the plates begin to be taken away one by one. First there are seven and then six and then five...and on down to a single plate. So I like to think of the table set for the whole family at supper time. The robins are singing in the cottonwoods and the late afternoon sun is shining across the floor... The children are playing out in the yard. I can hear their voices and happy laughter. There isn't much to that memory is there? Out of a lifetime of experiences you would hardly expect that to be the one I would choose as the happiest, would you? But it is.”
“Oh, why couldn't they know? Why did an old woman seem always to have been old? Abbie was back on the knoll near the Big Woods, singing...her head thrown back...her thick hair curling and rippling over her creamy white shoulders. Why couldn't they understand that once she had kept tryst with Youth? Why didn't they realize that some day, they, too must hold rendezvous with Age?”
“You can't describe love, Kathie, and you can't define it. Only it goes with you all your life. I think that love is more like a light that you carry. At first childish happiness keeps it lighted and after that romance. Then motherhood lights it and then duty...and maybe after that sorrow. You wouldn't think that sorrow could be a light would you, dearie? But it can. And then after that, service lights it. Yes...I think that is what love is to a woman...a lantern in her hand.”
“Small wonder that love would break under circumstances like these. Standing there in the soddie door, she seemed two personalities. One argued bitterly that it was impossible for love to keep going when there was no hope for the future, suggested that there was no use trying to keep it going. The other said sternly that marriage was not the fulfillment of a passion, - marriage was the fulfillment of love. And love was sometimes pleasure and sometimes duty.”
“Standing there in the soddie door, she seemed two personalities. One argued bitterly that it was impossible for love to keep going when there was no hope for the future, suggested that there was no use trying to keep it going. The other said sternly that marriage was not the fulfillment of a passion,—marriage was the fulfillment of love. And love was sometimes pleasure and sometimes duty.”
“Love is the light that you see by.”
“I don't believe there's any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can't completely ignore.”
“It is no good wishing for what was not to be.”
“Там е домът ви и трябва да помните, че другото няма значение.”
“Oz thinks I'm beautiful," she whispered to the stars.”
“The women hailed in the bible as examples for us were exceedingly wise, clever, intelligent, capable, and quick-witted. They were not shackled to the home, brainless ans without ambition. But their ambitions were God-oriented and God-directed.
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