As I crested the hill, my eyes immediately focused on a farmyard on the west side of the road. Arnie and I had lived there from 1974 through 1979. The mobile home we had lived in and sold to the new owner was gone. In its place they had built a house. Many of the trees and shrubs around it were ones that my Mom and I had planted the summer I raked and seeded the lawn. Spotting a tall pine tree in the back yard triggered a memory. We had struggled to dig it up from a local ditch, unable to believe that a small sapling could have such a long taproot!
Shock filled me as I scanned the rest of the yard. Across the driveway where there had once stood a large blue barn, four silos and a small handful of stonewalled sheds; was a skinny, skeleton that merely traced the defunct barn’s outline. The landmark barn was disappearing.
The farm had belonged to the Weigel family. Bachelor brothers, Max and Leo, had been the last proprietors. My husband and I had moved our mobile home there in 1974 from a lot in Marshfield. We were told that we lived in the center of an area some people called, Weigelsdorf. All the farmers living near this crossroad were Weigels or people who had married into the large Weigel family.
I immediately felt at home when I discovered that a town in Austria is named Weigelsdorf. Austria is where my grandparents had emigrated from in the late 1800’s.
I want to say living in this place healed me, but the truth is that it was probably high time for the healing to take place naturally. Arnie and I had had a baby with birth defects three years earlier. Christy died when she was only two months old. Emotionally, I was still a basket case. One afternoon before moving our house, Arnie needed to work on our car. We drove to Max and Leo’s farmyard where he pulled into one of the sheds.
I spent the afternoon wandering around the farm buildings, enjoying the cool country breezes and picking wild daisies. There was an open spot across the driveway from the barn where our mobile home would be placed. I wondered about Max and Leo’s house. It had been razed, leaving no trace.
In the barn were at least two dozen young Holstein heifers. The barn smell was familiar and comforting. In the haymow, I found a nest of kittens. As I played with them, their mother lovingly rubbed back and forth against me. I went home several hours later feeling far better than I had for a long time.
The reason we moved to Max and Leo Weigel’s farm is because Arnie knew the farmer who had bought the place. He was keeping cattle in the big blue barn and needed someone to live in the yard and take care of the cattle. We wanted to live in the country and not have to pay lot rent. The arrangement was to everyone’s advantage.
Though my husband and I lived in Weigelsdorf for only five years, they were very important, but turbulent years; During that time, I took over our family finances. Arnie and I experienced a major marriage upheaval and full reunification, thankfully. We applied for adoption and received approval. A baby was never placed with us because the wait for one was several years. On our 7th anniversary we decided, despite the odds of having another baby with TAR syndrome, to try again. I took many walks in the surrounding fields, thinking, healing and finally learning how to pray.
Our daughter, Niki was one and a half years old when Arnie and I bought a house along the Eau Pleine River, where I reside to this day.
Slowing my car down to a crawl on discovering all that remained of the old blue barn was its skeleton, I gazed at it remembering what a wonderful protective shelter it had once been. I ached to talk to my late husband about what I saw. I wanted to discuss our five years living there. Those years were sometimes scary and hard. But there were also times that I remember as amazing and wonderful. Nostalgia and longing filled my heart as I slowly drove through Weigelsdorf.