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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
Someone of Her Own Blood to Raise Her

Zona was spared grieving over her neighbor’s death by having to care for the woman’s child and as she did so days turned into weeks.

“Have you been able to locate the child’s family?” She asked her husband.

“I think we are coming closer to finding them,” John reassured his wife. He had enlisted the help of his Uncle in finding the woman’s parents. The office John’s uncle held as lawman over the two states made him know more people and it wasn’t that difficult to trace families in those days.

“I surely am getting awfully attached to this little thing. If we don’t find its rightful folks soon, I don’t think I’ll want to give it up at all.” Zona’s face showed the love she had for the baby.

“I know you would be willin’ to raise her but if the child’s family wants it, well then, we’ll have to give it up.” John was just trying to save his wife, heartbreak.

Zona’s own baby was born in April and was old enough to be outside at this time. She and her two children along with the orphan were enjoying the warm balmy day under one of the shade trees during the middle of the day. She looked upout across the expanse to see a strange buggy being driven down their road, coming toward the house.

“I wonder who that is?” Zona asked her children. They were strangers. She was sure of that. “Can’t be anyone from around here, but I don’t recognize them?” The mother reached down and picked up the two little ones while her oldest was clinging to legs through her skirt. She waited while the rig and the horse pulling the light little traveling buggy came closer. It was a surrey that came up the drive and right into the yard.

“Howdy! I hear you have been a friend to my daughter and her child!” The older looking man stepped down, brushed the dust from his trousers with his hat and smiled in her direction. Indeed, this was a senior from the Bullock family, this baby, Helen’s grandfather. It was out in the open and clear that the man was related to the baby she was holding. Zona had prepared herself for this meeting and was ready to give up the baby to them. For weeks she had kept its things separate from her own child’s clothing, just in case this did happen.

“Won’t you come in and sit for a while? I’ll get something for your lunch and a cold drink while I gather up the baby’s things. “Come on in?” Hospitality was more than a courtesy it was a necessity during the early days of statehood when few eating establishments were availaable.

The tenderness and protective ways the grandparents were expressing toward the baby made Zona know the little orphan now had someone to care about her.

“You know, I’ve become attached to this little one, but I’m still happy and proud she will have someone of her own blood to raise her.” Zona was partially thinking aloud.

“We heard you took care of our daughter while she was ill?”

The mother and father wanted to know any details Zona was able to tell them about their daughter’s last moments.

“She was very sick, delirious with a high fever, and I knew your daughter couldn’t make any decisions about this baby. She never knew her husband died. I never told her.”

She now busied herself with gathering up the child’s clothing, many of which she had sewn up.

“I’ve packed a cold lunch here for you and I’m going to put in a few of these canned goods, too. You will have quite a way to go before you get home. I don’t want the baby, or you, to go hungry on your way home.”

The baby was beautiful in her traveling clothes as any child could be and Zona gave her one last hug and kiss before her grandparents carried the child away from her. As soon as the rooster tail of dust from their buggy told her the three were gone on the same road they came she looked at the ground and one of the little girl’s ribbons had fallen close to her feet. Zona reached down, pulled it out of its bow, rolled it around her finger and stuck it in the pocket of her apron. Her own children never saw the tear she hurriedly wiped away from her face.

“I knew I was getting too fond of that little outfit. Not to worry.

Dear God. See to it that she will have a chance with her own.” Zona offered up a silent prayer and request for the child’s future welfare.

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