March 19, 2020

Lotte Ohlenberg-Booth 2020

I know I haven't written in a while.  But I can't hold back Elizabeth much longer.

This won't be in the book so you get a taste of an epilogue.

Lotte Ohlenberg-Booth 2020

Grey and dismal day.  From her desk at the back of the Estate office, Lotte Ohlenberg-Booth stared out the window at the clouds passing by.  Keep a distance.  Huh.  In an English Village of this size that would be an impossible feat.  But still.  Her daughter, in the front desk was heavily into some accounting program on her laptop.   The phone, which today her daughter had delegated to Lotte to be answered, had been silent for hours. 

The fir trees hissed a bit in the strong March winds.  She needed to be outside.  Outside had been her refuge ever since she, her mother and father had journeyed on foot from western Germany, across France and then ventured in a small boat, just the three of them across the English Channel .  Jews fleeing Germany in 1936. It had been a windy day like this when the boat had caught her father as he was trying to beach it.  It had been a windy day like this when her mother had taken his battered head in her arms there in the surf as he died. It had been a windy day like this when her mother had carried Lotte off the beach and they began their furtive 150 mile journey across England on foot again to find some relatives in Wales.

They had almost made it too.  It had been a windy day too when her mother, coughing up blood, sat down beside a tree to rest and could no longer rise.  When Lotte, her six year old body so cold and thin that she looked as a four year old, ran for help and encountered the woman who would change her life.

Lady Elizabeth.

Yes, she would escape the bounds of the office today.  Viruses didn’t scare her.  After all, she was 90 years old and had lasted this long.  She pulled on her wool coat and picked up her walking stick, her only concession to her age.

“Where are you going mum?  You know we are supposed to be sheltering in place.”

“At my age my place will soon be the cemetery so I am going over there to have a chat with Lady Elizabeth.”

“Wear your scarf, it’s only the first day of spring.”

Hanna Booth-Furman knew her mother was selectively deaf and wouldn’t put the scarf on if she didn’t want to.  Hanna wasn’t sure why she even wasted her breath but she guessed it was worth a try.  It didn’t work.

Lotte straightened to descend the three steps from the building and then crossed the road.  There were no weddings scheduled at the hall and it was too early for farm equipment so she didn’t look in either direction.

Through the lychgate she saw the door to the 14th century St. Giles open with the lit candles inside promising a warmth that wasn’t there. That new woman vicar had had to cancel services at the order of the diocese but she too, here only a year or so, had already acquired the outsidedness of the village and had invited anyone in, not for a service but to pray on their own time and that suited most here.

Instead of going in, however, Lotte turned left into the church yard.  More careful now, the footing was uneven.  She reached the bench that she and Harry senior had placed in this spot almost 40 years ago to honor Elizabeth buried here with her beloved Nicholas and their tiny son.  It was becoming a time when there would be no one around to have seen them, to have remembered Elizabeth in the flesh.

Lotte had a mission this day. She came here to ask a favor of Elizabeth.  She came to ask for a bit of Elizabeth’s courage and strength to get her though this pandemic as Elizabeth had gotten the village through the 1918 flu.

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