This is an excerpt from my book, "The Legacy of Faith," which is due to release in all formats on March 15th, 2021.
Below is a scene where the Tschohl family is saying goodbye to their mothers, two brothers, and a sister who had already passed:
Johann led his reluctant followers slowly through the quiet cemetery until they found the marker for his wives’ graves. Buried next to both of them were their three siblings, all in a row. The three older boys stood in silence and stared at the grave of their mother, Katharina Foser Tschohl.
“I do not know what to feel,” Bernhard said as he looked to Josef.
“I do not even know what she looked like.”
Josef placed his arm around Bernhard, “You do not have to feel anything. Just pray for her and know that she loved you.”
“I feel bad because I miss Johnnie’s mother more,” Bernhard admitted.
“You do not have to feel bad. Our mother would not want that. She would have been very thankful that we had two mothers who cared for us,” Josef consoled.
“Your mothers would be very proud of each of you,” Johann said.
They looked at the tombstones of their two brothers and sister, all of whom died within months of their birth. Every family knew how precious life was, for each bore the scars of deaths rendered far too soon. “Where is Johnnie?” Ignaz asked as he turned to look for his brother. “What are you doing?”
“I am coming!” Johnnie yelled. His handed-down pant legs fell past his boots as they always did, and Johnnie tripped as he ran. His armful of carefully-picked rocks scattered onto the weeds and dead grass.
“Now is not the time!” Johann scowled as he picked up his son by the arm. Then he saw Johnnie’s face and the tears that streamed down it. “Are you hurt?”
“No, I had to get something for mama!” Johnnie answered as he pulled away from his father and scrambled to pick up the rocks again. His brothers watched as Johnnie feverishly picked up every single rock, even as several more fell again. He then bolted past them and perfectly laid each one in front of the marker of his mother’s grave. He also placed several on the graves of the babies who passed. As he dashed back to the rest that fell, he told them in his trembling voice, “She should have flowers, but I could not find any. I picked the best rocks I could find. I hope she is not disappointed.”
The boys stood in awe of their little brother, and Bernhard went to help Johnnie with the rest. Bernhard put his rocks down next to Johnnie’s, his younger brother stopped him.
“No, those are for your mother,” he said.
Bernhard stopped and stared at Johnnie. Johnnie’s kind gesture to think of both mothers took Johann by surprise. Bernhard carefully placed the rocks on his mother's grave, just as Johnnie had done. Bernhard then put his arm around Johnnie as they stopped and prayed.
Johann waited a few moments in silence. He cherished the memories of both women he loved dearly. Both had given him so much. “It is time to go,” he said.
He then turned and walked to the wagon, with Ignaz and Josef following directly behind. "Thank you for getting the rocks for my mother,” Bernhard said. Johnnie smiled back at his brother. Then he reached down and took one of the rocks.
“I am going to keep this one with me always so I can remember her.”
Bernhard smiled as Johnnie got up and raced back to the wagon, rock in hand. After taking a few steps, Bernhard stopped and turned towards the grave. He also took one of the stones from each tombstone and kissed both markers before returning to the wagon.