A Lantern in Her Hand, written by Bess Streeter Aldrich.
From the front of the book:
Of a pioneer woman, her life on the prairie, and the cheerful courage and sturdy faith that were her companions, Bess Streeter Aldrich has written a rich and memorable novel.
Abbie Deal, brought up in a log cabin in Iowa, took the covered wagon trail to Nebraska as a young bride. There she lived in a rude shelter on the prairie, raised her young family and companioned her husband through all the heart-breaking struggles of pioneer days.
I kept interrupting Mark's own reading just to read aloud parts of this book to him. It is this passage that stands out to me as my favorite from the book:
[The following is an excerpt from pages 281-282. The young Abbie Deal we met at the beginning of the story is now old. Her granddaughter Laura asks, "What memories do you have, Grandma?"]
"I have many... my little girlhood days when Chicago was a village... the three weeks' journey from Illinois into Iowa... the fun in the Big Woods behind my sister Janet's house. I can shut my eyes and smell the dampness and the Mayflowers there. The old log school and then the new white one with green shutters... my wedding... the trip from Iowa into Nebraska... There are many memories. But I'll tell you the one I like to think of best of all. It's just a homely everyday thing, but to me it is the happiest of them all. It is evening time here in the old house and the supper is cooking and the table is set for the whole family. It hurts a mother, Laura, when the plates begin to be taken away one by one. First there are seven and then six and then five...and on down to a single plate. So I like to think of the table set for the whole family at supper time. The robins are singing in the cottonwoods and the late afternoon sun is shining across the floor. Will, your grandfather, is coming in to supper... and the children are all playing out in the yard. I can hear their voices and happy laughter. There isn't much to that memory is there? Out of a lifetime of experiences you would hardly expect that to be the one I would choose as the happiest, would you? But it is. The supper cooking... the table set for the whole family... the afternoon sun across the floor... the robins singing in the cottonwoods... the children's merry voices... Will coming in... eventide."
Yes. I imagine that someday those will be my own happiest memories. The simple, everyday moments. How I want to treasure them while they're right before me.