Alice Elecott always thought of March as a spring month, the month when flowers start to grow, animals becoming pregnant, and crops start being sown. Yet on the Pontipee farm, Old Man Winter kept his grip on the land, making Alice sigh. Maybe she wouldn't mind the cold if it wasn't for all the snow, she was getting tired of all the white. Alice sighed again as she rearranged the firewood in her arms. Then she saw Gideon Pontipee walking with his older brothers, Frank and Ephraim. With a mischievous smile, Alice put down the firewood and began to make a snowball. Narrowing her eyes, she threw the ball with all her might and hitting Gideon perfectly on the back of the head. Alice laughed and clapped.
"Goddammit, woman!" snapped Gideon cutting off Alice's laugh. Alice looked at Gideon like he slapped her. Gideon had never sworn at her before, he never even raised his voice at her; not even when Alice was playing cruel pranks on him as revenge for kidnapping her. But Gideon always looked at her like a puppy who had been scolded, he never snarled at her. Alice started to say something to him, but Gideon just looks at her with a look of pain, sadness, and only a little anger. Gideon brushed off the snow and left with his brothers to the barn. Alice grabbed the wood and went into the house. Milly and the rest of the girls were in the living room.
"Alice, what was that? I thought I heard Gideon yell?" asked the pregnant Milly as she rocked in her chair as she knitted a baby blanket.
"He did," Alice said in a surprised voice. "He swore at me when I threw a snowball at him?"
"What? Gideon?" asked Ruth Jebson. "You can't be serious?"
"He's too sweet to do that," Dorcas Gailen. "Now if it was Frank, I would believe it."
"Well Frank never used any coarse language to me," Sara Kine said pointedly. Though Frank had kidnapped Sara, she was always quick to defend him when any of the other girls spoke ill of the hot-headed brother.
"But still, Gideon knows not to use that language in front of a lady, all the boys know that," Milly replied as she slowly got up. "I'll talk to him.
"Milly, you aren't going out in this weather in your condition?" asked Martha Hall.
"I will only be gone for a bit, just to find out what's going on," replied Milly as she put on her coat, then braced for the cold. As she headed to the barn, she heard angry voices. Even when she opened the barn door, Milly could feel the tension in the barn that was so thick that she couldn't cut it was an ax.
"Why hasn't he arrived yet?" demanded Frank.
"He will," Ben said tensely. "He knows how important this day is."
"Look at the time, Ben," Dan said pointed to the sun. "He should have been here by now; he started the tradition for Christ's sake."
"You don't suppose he would let his pride…?" asked Caleb.
"He wouldn't dare!" snapped Gideon. Milly coughed and all six brothers snapped their heads toward her. For the first time in a long time, the brothers reminded Milly of when she first met them, angry and wild mountain men.
"What is it, Milly?" Ben asked coldly making Milly stiffen.
"I wanted to know why Gideon used such language with Alice," replied Milly.
"Not now Milly," Gideon growled. Milly's eyebrows shot up when she heard Gideon's tone.
"Gideon Pontipee! Don't you use that tone with…" Milly scowled until Ephraim cut her off.
"Milly, stop it," Ephraim snapped. "Go back inside."
"Milly, enough!" Ben snapped making Milly gapped at him. Ben sighed and stood up from a bail of hay. "Come on boys." Milly just stood there in shock as the brothers got up and left her. For the first time since coming to the Pontipee farm, the brothers completely disobeyed her. Milly slowly returned to the house, her brain going over what happened. She barely heard what Liza May said when Milly walked into the house.
"What was that Liza?" she asked.
"Did you talk to boys Milly?" Liza repeated.
"Not really," Milly replied as she sank into her rocking chair.
"What is Milly?" Alice asked as she and the rest of the girls crowed around Milly.
"Girls, what day is it?" asked Milly as she raked her brain trying to remember something Adam told her. Dorcas went to the store calendar that Adam bought before the kidnapping.
"March 26th," Dorcas said frowning. "There something is written on the day, it just says 'Ma.' Do you know what that means?" Milly groaned.
"March 26th, that was the day when their mother died," Milly groaned. "No wonder why they're being so disagreeable. Adam isn't here to honor her with them." Milly got up again as the girls stared at her with stunned silence.
"Milly, where are going? Don't you think we should give them some space?" asked Ruth.
"She was my mother-in-law," Milly replied. "I should be there, if only to be there in Adam's place."
"Do you want us to come with you?" asked Alice.
"No, stay here girls," Milly said as she headed up to where Adam showed her where his parents were buried. As she reached the hill, she saw the brothers surrounding the graves of Sean and Elizabeth Pontipee.
"Ma, please forgive Adam for not being here," Milly heard Ben saying. "You know how proud he is, gets it from Da I guess. Well, he at least married Milly, you would have loved her. She reminds us of you."
"You truly believe that?" asked Milly.
"Milly!" exclaimed the brothers.
"I sorry boys, I forgot what day it was," Milly said sadly.
"It's alright Milly," Caleb said as Gideon and Dan gave her a side hug.
"Would you like to say something?" asked Frank. Milly took a deep breath and step toward the grave.
"Hello Elizabeth, I'm sorry we never got to meet in life," Milly started. "While they did do something extremely foolish, they are good boys at heart. You would be proud of them." With that, the rest of the brothers stepped up and spoke to their mother's grave. When Gideon finished with tears in his eyes, the brothers spoke together.
"If roses grow in Heaven, Lord please pick a bunch for me, place them in my mother's arms and tell her they're from me. Tell her I love her and miss her, and when she turns to smile, place a kiss upon each cheek and hold her for a while. Because remembering her is easy, I do it every day, but there's an ache within my heart that will never go away."
"Amen," Mill whispered as they turned to leave.