No one said anything for the longest time. Pearl had just told Lauren and me that my father was the product of an affair between Lauren’s Grandma’s brother Hal and Pearl. She had given her baby to her best friend Content, and her husband, Bradley Crandall.
“Whoa,” I said out loud. “That means you and I are kind of related Lauren, and everything comes back to you Pearl. Let’s see, who are we missing in this family drama? Wait..Hal, where is my Grandfather #3 and Lauren’s Great Uncle? Please don’t tell me he has a bunch of kids and grandkids I’m going to have to send birthday cards to.”
Pearl took exception to my remarks and I could almost see fire in her bespectacled eyes. Pearl was having a Pearl clutching moment.
“That is quite enough Faith, and for the record, you and Lauren and the little brother are 2nd cousins I believe. Now, what else do you want to know?”
“Who put my Connie doll in the snow where Janet and Connie were found during the blizzard.” Lauren was having trouble getting all this to sink in.
Pearl just sat there with the little photo album in her hand. She looked older than usual. Maybe she looked older because she had a grey dress on.
“I guess I’ll answer Faith’s question first. Hal stayed to help run the family farm, and when his father died he continued to manage it. He married, but his wife was barren. She died several years ago from influenza. Hal suffered a stroke a short time after he lost his wife. He is being cared for in his home by a nurse Lauren’s Grandmother hired. He was never told the baby was his, but if he didn’t think of the possibility, he was a fool.” Pearl seemed to be talking to herself not to us.
“I’m sorry I was snotty to you just now,” I said. “You look tired. Maybe we should take a break. I know Lauren and I both want to know about the Connie dolls and Angels that have helped us both so much, but we don’t have to cover that right now. We’ve waited four years, what’s the rush?”
I was hoping Pearl would say she wanted to get it all out and over with, but she didn’t. She nodded her head, got up, touched us both on our cheeks and left the cat room.
After Pearl left, Lauren and I went to Aunt Grace’s kitchen to find something to eat. I was getting used to hearing shocking and sometimes devastating news, but Lauren wasn’t. She had just come to terms with what had happened four years ago, but now she wasn’t so sure. Janet who lost her little sister in that horrible blizzard, was coming to Murdo and she wanted to talk to Lauren.
Janet’s sister Connie holding a doll in the school picture..Janet and Lauren a year before the blizzard
While we were eating the phone rang. I didn’t see Aunt Grace around, so I answered it. If I thought I was going to get a few moments of peace between my history lessons, I was sadly mistaken. Warren was the caller.
“Hope,” Warren said.” I’m really glad I caught you. I don’t have anyone else to talk to.”
“Sure Warren, do you want to come over here?”
“I can’t. I’m at St. Mary’s hospital in Pierre with my Mom and my Grandparents. Mom is here, and she’s in intensive care. Can you get a ride and come here?”
Lauren was the only one I could think of that had a driver’s license, and could take me on such short notice, so I asked Warren to hang on while I asked her. “She’s going to call her Mom Warren, I know this is long distance, but can you call me back in 30 minutes or so? It would take too much time and money to try to track you down in that hospital.”
It all worked out and within an hour Lauren and I were on our way to the hospital. Poor Warren. I never did have a chance to ask him what happened? My mind was going to the worst possible outcome.
“Lauren, because of all that’s happened to the people I love these past four plus years, I always try to be prepared for bad news, but I never am. I should try harder to think positive thoughts, like.. Mrs. Martin is going to be just fine.”
“I know Hope,” Lauren said. “It must be hard to stay focused on the good things when you have as much turmoil in your life as you’ve had. I want to ask you something about our Angel, or Angels I guess. I’ve been wondering if she told you what she told me.”
“We’ve never really talked about our Angel experiences have we Lauren? What did your Angel say to you?”
“She said when I’m feeling like I’m ready to cave in, or wishing I had someone else’s easier life, I should concentrate on simple things. She said one thing I’m thinking about right now. One who falls and gets up, is so much stronger than the one who never fell. I try to remember this. She also said, be anxious about nothing. I think that’s in the Bible somewhere. It means that worry and fear don’t get us anywhere. That we should remain calm and believe in the power of faith.”
“I don’t remember my Angel saying those words to me, but she did say to remember simple things. She said, What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” She also said, everything I ever wanted was on the other side of fear.”
Warren told us to come to the intensive care waiting room, and that’s where we found him. “Where are your Grandparents?” I asked.
“The doctor said we could go in, but not all at the same time. I told them to go first, because I wanted to wait for you. Hi Lauren.” Warren smiled at us and asked us if we wanted a pop.
“We don’t need anything,” I said. “We want to know what you need. Do you want to tell us what happened?”
“I feel so guilty,” he said. “I thought the worst when the Sheriff called and said Mom had an accident and needed to be rushed to the hospital. He said the nurse and another injured woman were with her, and the policeman was driving them to the hospital.”
Warren’s Mom at the restaurant
Lauren asked Warren if he wanted to talk to me alone, but he shook his head. “It’s fine that you’re here Lauren. I know how much Hope thinks of you… I jumped to the conclusion that Mom was probably drunk and wrecked her car. I was madder than I was worried. I was mad the whole time we were driving here. My Grandparents didn’t think that way. They prayed and said positive things. They said the only important thing was that she was alive, and that we would deal with everything else later.”
Warren’s Grandparents and Warren
“Your Mom was in a car accident? Is that what happened Warren?” I was so worried that Warren’s worse fears had come true. That Mrs. Martin had started drinking again and had a horrible accident.”
“No..She was at work and there was a grease fire in the kitchen. One of the other waitresses clothes caught on fire. Mom told someone to call the police and get the fire extinguisher, but I guess no one had been properly trained on how to use it. They were trying to figure it out, when Mom grabbed the lady and pushed her down to the floor and started to roll with her away from the spreading fire. She told someone else to grab the baking soda. I don’t know what finally happened, all I know is Mom got badly burned trying to save someone else, while everyone else in the place panicked and froze.”
“Have you found out anything?” I was thinking, please say she will be okay. Help Warren and his Mom Connie Angel.
“They came out a little while ago and said she was badly burned, but she would recover. She will be in the hospital until they’re sure she is healed enough that they won’t have to worry about an infection.”
“I’m so sorry this happened to your Mom,” Lauren said. “She has already proven what a strong woman she is and she will get through this.”
“How is the other lady?” I asked.
“She was burned pretty badly too. She has about the same prognosis as Mom. They said all the way to the hospital, she kept saying that Mom saved her life, and her kids would still have a Mother. I feel so guilty because of the things I was thinking about her. I was only thinking about myself.”
I saw myself in the things Warren was saying, and I heard an Angel’s voice. “You know exactly what to say to Warren. I heard you and Lauren talking about your “Angels.” I don’t remember using so many platitudes in our conversations. When you tell Warren what he needs to know, and you need to say, don’t talk in platitudes.”
“What on earth does platitude mean?” I asked.
“The same thing as it does in Heaven.”