Right up until Julia was thirty-nine and pregnant with her tenth child, she was nonstop energy and cheer. Always immersed in household chores and shuttling her children around town, she was hardly ever off her feet. Throughout the day she sang like a lark, so much so that her children grew up thinking that all mothers sang incessantly while pinning clothes to the clothesline or ironing or baking. Her father having been a baker, his skills had rubbed off on her, and the Noonans' busy house always smelled of cooking loaves, biscuits, or notoriously rich brownies known to every child in the neighborhood, not to mention Julia's Sunday night treat-fried dough. Children were her passion. She loved having them around, whether her own flock, nieces and nephews, her children's classmates, or neighborhood strays, and every night there'd be one or two extra heads at the dinner table. If, of late, she occasionally misplaced a glove or the car keys, or forgot a dentist appointment, such lapses were seen as perfectly normal for a mother who had her hands full.