Saturday, June 15, 2013
Lovina, my Old Order Amish Friend
I met Lovina, an Old Order Amish maiden, in 1988 when I stopped at her little general store to buy some jam. Jake, the Old Order Amish carpenter who made my cherry rocking chair and my dining room chairs had given me directions to her farm. I really liked her the minute I met her.
That first time I stopped at her store, it was in the back porch of the farmhouse she and her dad shared. She had a few shelves of this and that – parts to kerosene lamps, fly tape, homemade jam, bags of cereals, and fireballs—very hot, cinnamon jawbreakers, and other items I can't begin to remember. I bought a jar of the raspberry jam she made, vowing to come back.
Over the years, I have gone to see Lovina at least once, often bringing friends with me. One time, Peder and Heidi went with me. Peder had just gotten his driver's permit, and he agreed to come along if I would let him drive. I was on a mission to get the fireballs for Hans—to put them in a birthday box I was sending to him while his ship was underway around South America. When were were nearly there, the skies opened up and it poured—much like it has been doing rather regularly around here lately. Lovina's father couldn't believe we would drive some 60 miles in the pouring rain to buy cinnamon jawbreakers. Then he offered to have us spend the night. Just think – a chance to spend the night in an authentic, Old Order Amish home! I really wanted to do this, but my kids did NOT. They took me aside and I remember Peder saying something like: Mom, we're not staying here. They don't have electricity so there's no TV! Then Heidi chimed in to say, And they have an "outhouse!" So, we drove home in the rain, and I have never spent the night in an Amish home.
Some years ago, a separate building was made on the farm for Lovina's store. It was really nice – a small porch with a screen door, a couple of windows, and shelves with two aisles. It had a wood stove for heat. Lovina hand wrote all of the items we bought on a ledger-type book, adding the figures in her head. Her handwriting was beautiful.
Last fall, Lovina had a stroke and lost most of the use of her right hand. For a time her speech was affected, too. But due to physical therapy, she now has a little use of her right hand and her full speech has returned. She has learned to write and sew with her left hand. When friends and I were there in October or November, she was in the store but her niece was helping her. Today when we stopped, we learned she had retired in January. Her niece, Lizzy, now has a few things to sell there, but not the variety Lovina had. Lizzy told us we could go to Lovina's house, which is on the same farm, and have a visit with her. She let us know Lovina really likes having company. My sister and I spent about an hour in her house. Her kitchen had a wood cook stove, with two irons sitting on it. The ironing board was up and on it was a beautiful white, pleated apron which she said she was going to press to wear to church tomorrow. At the table was a piece of linen she was embroidering. After visiting there for awhile, we moved into her little living room which was very plain. In it was a wooden desk that had been her dad's, a willow rocking chair, a heat stove, and 3 plain, oak chairs – very similar to the ones Jake made for me. We did not see her bedroom. As we were leaving she apologized for the dirty dishes in the dry sink.
I love Lovina, and she is always so happy to see me come. We give each other a big hug. I don't fully understand her life, but I have learned a lot about the Amish over the years, and have great respect for them. We worship the same Saviour. I look forward to seeing her again and again.