Growing up my sisters and I spent much of each summer with my grandparents on the family farm. We loved spending time there. We played in the barns, hide and seek in the fields, hikes around the mountain, and swimming at the Mill Pond. But on rainy days one of our favorite activities was digging through my grandmother’s attic and closets. We loved finding pictures of our grandparents as well as my aunt, uncle, and father as children. The featured picture was among these special treasures and inspired the story line about the Baptism Gown. It was labeled “Baby Harriett”, my grandmother. She was the first of the six Morton girls to wear this gown.
As I was writing Silent Ties I wanted family traditions to play a role. My early readers who helped edit the original manuscript suggested I remove miscellaneous story lines not critical to the relationship of the two main characters. The Baptism Gown could have been deleted. However, it highlighted the close connections of the family and painted a picture of Grandma Em as a young mother lovingly making this gown for her first born child. Most of the time we saw her anger and bitterness, but I wanted you to know she was once a new bride, discovering she was expecting, and hoping her arranged marriage might become a true loving partnership. So many people and events destroyed that dream. Miss Ada’s continued presence on the farm, Granddaddy Tucker’s undying love for this other woman, and the secret that would drive a permanent wedge between them changed her forever.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana