The year is 1899 and I want to be brave and go forward into my new life in a new century with my head held high and my steps strong and determined.
It is now sixteen years since I first left home at nine years old to go to school. My family said of me that I was stubborn with a determined chin and I was not afraid of anything, but they were wrong. They did not know how many times I was shaking inside; how often I wanted to go back to where I was safe; how many times I asked myself, why are you doing this? I know my pride entered into it, even then. And I know pride is a mortal sin, but I wanted to do it my way. I was determined, no matter the cost though it meant I was often alone in my endeavors to be someone who was not afraid.
I hope this is not some rash and foolish thing I am doing tomorrow. Looking back in my journal for 1883, I see that those are almost exactly the words my mother said to me years ago as I climbed into the wagon beside pa, setting that determined chin of mine toward town and a real school.
That long ago afternoon, as our old wagon rattled and bumped its way along the farm roads leading to Uncle John’s house in Mt.Forest, my thoughts veered from being frightened at leaving home, to feeling waves of excitement at the idea of attending a real school.
Those months before I left the security and familiarity of my life on the farm had been filled with unbearable tension. A silent battle had raged in our house through the summer and remembering it now, I hardly noticed the tidy fields and bright autumn colored trees. I could think only of my mother’s relentless silence and my father’s determined calm in the face of her anger.
Misery descended upon me when I thought of my part in that cold struggle, for it was my request to leave the farm and go to school in town that had precipitated the initial loud argument and its silent aftermath.