Yesterday, a woman came into my library with old photos and book donations. She arrived at a quiet time, and we sat and talked, our conversation winding around to her grandmother — a midwife who studied via a correspondence course while raising a brood of children.
In those days, the quarries in Woodbury were running at their peak, shipping marble and granite via rail all over the country. The midwife was called to the quarries’ terrible accidents — where men’s flesh and bones were mangled and crushed by stone.
Thin November sunlight flooded the library. I was in no particular rush to return to my work. A sugarmaker with her husband, she was glad of the pause from her work in the woods, too. She mentioned that now, as an adult, she has so many questions she’d like to ask her grandmother — what made you want to be a midwife? what did you see? She remembers her grandfather coming in from the morning milking and eating her grandmother’s maple cream by the spoonful.
Here’s a line from Elliot Ackerman’s novel Waiting for Eden, regarding training for overseas deployment:
Communication, we were told, would be our only defense against the stresses of isolation and confinement.