Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 11

As Mother continued to tell me about herself and the others involved in Project Truth or Consequences, I became riveted. I let her speak uninterrupted, and she was right. Many of my questions were being answered and things began to make more sense. I listened intently as she went on.

“The Phin’s were in London for a summer workshop, but their home was actually here in Seattle. You’ll remember from the portfolio I gave you that Akin and Goro are medical interpreters. They work with doctors and other medical staff in various hospitals that need help communicating with patients whose primary language is Vietnamese or Chinese. The Phins speak both languages fluently, but English is their primary language. In addition, they are both Emergency Medical Technicians. You can easily understand why their skills are highly valued and greatly needed.”

Mother stopped talking long enough for the nurse to give her a sip of water. She seemed to be somewhat energized by telling me all of this, so we let her continue.

“About two years after I came with the Phin’s to Seattle, they found themselves in the middle of a nightmare. An elderly lady was brought to the hospital by ambulance. She spoke Chinese only. She was quite ill, but the Phin’s were able to get enough information from her to help the doctors make a diagnosis. She explained she woke up one day with a general feeling of weakness. The next day she had difficulty getting dressed. The weakness continued to worsen until she could barely summon the strength to get out of bed. Her neighbor found her on the floor. She was conscious, but very confused. It was the neighbor who called the ambulance. When asked, the neighbor said she didn’t know of any family members the hospital could notify. It was only after the poor woman died that it was discovered the reason for her illness and death was carbon monoxide poisening. An investigation uncovered that the poisening was not an accident. The Phins were made to feel responsible for not getting more accurate and substantive information from the patient which resulted in an incorrect diagnosis of a stroke. That’s where Jack came in.”

Jack walked over to the bed and took Mother’s hand. “I think you should rest, Claire. I know you want Kat to know everything as quickly as possible and she will, but neither of us want you to push yourself to the point of exhaustion. I think we should all take a break and have some dinner, and then, if you’ll agree, I will tell Kat the remainder of the Phin’s story later tonight.”

I could see Mother squeeze Jack’s hand. She nodded her head and when she spoke, she sounded tired, “All right Jack, but promise me you will come back to my room tomorrow morning. We can’t lose much more time.”

Doris served us a delicious dinner in the dining room. It had been an incredible, but long day and we were exhausted. At the risk of angering Mother, we decided to meet early for coffee in the garden. Doris said it was beautiful and there were several quiet places for us to sit and have a private conversation.

I was planning to spend some time in my room recapping what I had learned, but instead I practically fell into bed and immediately went to sleep.

I woke up early the next morning and after taking a quick shower, I went down to the kitchen to get some coffee. Doris wasn’t around, but I found everything I needed including fresh cream. As the coffee was brewing, I noticed the window above the kitchen sink was open and there was a soft breeze filling the room with scents from the garden. I got up and walked closer to the window. I thought I heard voices coming from outside. Yes…it was Doris and Jack, and they were discussing me.

“I don’t know if we should be involving Kat to the extent we are, Doris. We’re taking an extreme risk, here. What if she doesn’t believe in our cause. We could be risking all of the sweat and tears we have put into this project all because at this stage in her life, Claire wants to atone for what she perceives as wronging her daughter.”

“I agree, Jack. It’s a lot for Kat to take in. It seems impossible to explain all that’s happened to so many. Each person involved in the project has had a personal experience and offers certain skills to enhance what we’re doing. How do you intend to handle this? You promised Claire you would continue with the Phin’s story before going to her room this morning.”

I was concentrating so intently on Doris and Jack’s conversation, I didn’t hear the nurse enter the kitchen. “I’m afraid I have bad news,” she said. “Your mother passed away without warning…just moments ago.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 10

It was a beautiful afternoon and I found myself enjoying the flight to Seattle. Since Jack was piloting the airplane, there was no opportunity to have the conversation I had hoped for. I tried to gather my own thoughts, but I only came up with more questions. I needed some answers soon, or I was going to explode.

As was promised, when we landed in Seattle, there was a car waiting for us. The driver said it would be a two hour drive to our destination.

Once we were settled in for the ride, Jack tried the small talk route, but he knew I wasn’t having it.

“I know you’re hoping I will give you the answers to all of your questions, Kat, but I would rather give Claire the opportunity to explain everything. We’ll soon know if she’s capable of doing that.”

“That’s fine, Jack, but don’t worry. My mother wouldn’t dare die on me now that she has dragged me back into her life after deserting me for thirty years. I would like you to answer one question. Why would she come all the way to Seattle when there are plenty of great hospitals and doctors in Boston?”

“Claire lived in Seattle most of those thirty years you didn’t see her. All of her doctors are here. She still owns a home in the area. In fact, it looks like that could be where the driver is taking us.”

It seemed like forever before the driver finally pulled up to a beautiful country home.

Two very friendly dogs came running to greet us. An older woman wearing a house dress and apron, opened the door.

“Hello, Jack. It’s so good to see you…and you must be Kathleen. Please come in. The doctor is with Claire, so you’ll have a few minutes to freshen up before you see her. Can I offer you something to drink? Dinner will be served at eight.”

“Kat, this is Doris. She’s a dear friend of your mother’s.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Doris,” I said as I offered her my hand. “And please do call me, Kat.”

“In addition to taking care of things around here, Doris has been a good friend to your mother for years.” (I wonder how Stella feels about that, I thought.)

Doris showed us to our rooms and later brought me some tea.

“I’ll be back in thirty minutes to take you to your mother,” she said.

I was too anxious to wait in my room and drink tea, so I asked Doris if I could wait in the living room.

“I have a better idea, she said. “Why don’t you come with me to the kitchen?” Doris was such a pleasant lady. I immediately felt comfortable with her.

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Soon the doctor, followed by Jack, came into the kitchen. The doctor said it was okay for us to go see my mother, but that she would tire easily. “The nurse is with her, so she’ll keep and eye on her,” he said. “It was very nice to meet you both. Now… I must be on my way.”

“Jack,” Doris said . “You go ahead and take Kat up to Claire’s room. I’ll see Dr. Miller out.”

When we first walked into the room, I was struck by how small my mother looked lying there. “Hello Mother,” I said. “I hope you’re up to talking with us.”

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“Thank you dear, but there is a lot I need to tell you. Please allow me to do that. It will answer so many of your questions.”

When I nodded, Mother began to tell me about her life, her struggles, and how Project Truth or Consequences came to be. It was a concept that developed over many years, but the seed was sewn when on a trip to London, my mother was brutally attacked and left for dead in a London hotel parking garage.

“The last thing I remembered was getting into a cab at the airport,” she said. “I didn’t and still don’t know why I was left in the parking garage. The assailant, or assailants, left everything but my passport and all other forms of identity. Thankfully, several hours later, an amazing couple, you know as the Phins, discovered me and called an ambulance. I was unconscious for four days and they never left my side.

When I came out of the coma, I couldn’t remember anything… including my own name. I was in the hospital for three weeks before I was released in the care of the Phins. I lived with them for two years. It was during that time that, even though I had no idea who I was, I discovered my passion.”

“Kathleen,” she said as she took my hand in hers. “It was two years later, after working with a very talented therapist, that I began to remember my past. By then, you were settled with my parents, and I was involved in an operation that saved good people from being set up to take the fall for monsters.

Murdo Girl…Thanksgiving Day has changed

Every year we celebrate a day we call Thanksgiving

It’s a great reminder of the thanks we should be giving

This year, things have been different, our life was rearranged

And so, at least for us, Thanksgiving Day has changed

The love and hope and prayers, each special little gift

The miles you drove to be there all gave us such a lift

I’m sitting here this morning after saying a tearful prayer

We saw God through all of you, and knew that He was there

Yes, it’s been a year much different than any year before

We’re so filled with thankfullness, we couldn’t hold much more

We’ll eat a lot of turkey and think of family everywhere

We’re full of thanks for them, and all the love we share

Thanksgiving Day is once a year. It’s a day if gratitude

For us the day has changed. We have a different attitude

Every day will be a day of thanks, and this is what we vow

We’ll celebrate the yesterdays and be more thankful for the now!

Happy Thanksgiving to our wonderful friends and family,

Love,

Kip and Mary

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 9

I didn’t hear from my mother the next day or the day after. On the third day, I got a call from Jack Stein. After exchanging a few pleasantries, he asked if I would be available to meet him for lunch the following day. Not having talked to mother yet, I didn’t feel at all prepared, but nevertheless, I agreed to meet him at a small seaside cafe.

I was glad to be meeting with Jack away from the house because of Stella. She continues to baffle me. Mother didn’t seem too concerned about what Stella knows or doesn’t know, but I’m uncomfortable discussing anything with her, so I don’t. That seems to upset her. Stella is one of those people who makes everything her business.

I’m meeting with Jack today, and still no word from Mother. I decided I needed some air.

When I returned from my walk on the beach, Stella was in the kitchen preparing breakfast.

“I just want some coffee and one of your delicious croissants, Stella. I’m having lunch out and I need to shower and change, soon.”

“You haven’t said anything about Miss Claire in days, Miss Kat. Have you really not spoken to her? It’s not unusual for her to leave and not be in touch for a while, but she’s never been this sick, before.”

“I promise to let you know if and when I hear anything if you promise to do the same.”

I had been waiting to question Stella about her comment the night of the dinner. “Stella, what did you mean the other night when you said you couldn’t wait for Mother to learn that we ‘almost’ pulled it off.”

She brought my coffee and croissant over to the table and sat down across from me.

“I know the signs, Kat. She’s up to something. She wants you to get close to this group of ‘friends’ doesn’t she? By the way, I think you handled Ms. Morris beautifully. When I said, we almost pulled it off, I only meant they must have seen it as I did. Under normal circumstances Miss Claire would have found a way to be here for her annual Thanksgiving gathering. Where is she really, Kat? She didn’t go off someplace to die did she?”

“I don’t know, Stella. I really wish I did.”

Then…and now…

When I arrived at the cafe, Jack was already seated. The hostess was expecting me and took me to his table. I tried not to be distracted by his strikingly good looks. I made a mental note to look in Mother’s binder and refresh my memory of his age.

He stood to greet me and offered me a seat across from him.

“Good afternoon, Kat. You appear to be doing well. What would you like to drink?”

“I’ll have water with lemon, please. How are the girls? I really enjoyed meeting them the other night.”

“They’re back in school and too busy to spend much time with me, I’m afraid. May we talk before we order? It’s important.”

“I’m in no rush to eat. Let’s talk.” I took a sip of water and waited for Jack to start the conversation.

“I’m sure you must be terribly worried about Claire. I want you to know that I talked to her doctor this morning. The news is not good, Kat.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that, so I just sat there and waited for him to go on.

“The doctor said your mother wants to see you. She wanted me to tell you this in person. She would like me to bring you to her. Time is very critical, Kat. I intend to fly you there. My plane is ready and waiting for us. How soon can you be ready?”

“Where is she, Jack? Where is my mother?”

“I can’t tell you that. I only know that we’re flying to Seattle and a car will be waiting for us. plan to be away for several days. You can tell Stella as much.”

“Then let’s go. Give me thirty minutes at the house. Stella can fix some sandwiches for us to take along.”

On the way to the airfield, something occurred to me. Mother said ruby red slippers or not, I would never be back in Kansas. Now here I was, going back to Seattle where I had lived half my life. I wondered if it was just a coincidence that my mother was there.

As I went over in my mind the events and brief conversations I’d been a part of since Mother handed me the portfolio that day, something else stood out. Stella said I had handled the situation with Annette Morris well at the dinner party. Stella was not in the living room at the time. She was in the kitchen with the children.

What I wouldn’t give to know what this was all about. Maybe on the flight to Seattle, Jack will help me understand what Project Truth or Consequences is, and what will be expected of me.

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 8

I was awake early on Thanksgiving day. It was a blustery morning, but I decided to put on some warm clothes and take a walk on the beach. I was a bundle of nerves. The thought of waltzing into a room full of people I’ve never met and trying to win them over for a purpose not yet revealed to me, was rather unnerving. It was also very possibly not the wisest decision I have ever made. I had a strong feeling that if I saw this through, my life would be very different. Is that what I wanted?

When I got back to the house, Stella was quite frantic. How would I ever keep her under control on top of everything else? I decided to put her in charge of the children…if any of them came. Stella said the “guests” seemed quite surprised by the invitation.

We set the table in the breakfast cove off the kitchen and tried to make it appealing to the girls who were twelve and fourteen, and a little eight year old boy. Trixie wasn’t too happy to be disturbed, but I was sure she would forgive us when she saw the kids. Soon it was time to get ready for the evening.

I checked on Stella one more time and reminded her that we should not say anything concerning my mother that might alarm the guests. She was busy getting holiday cookies ready for the kids to decorate.

I got ready and then waited for Stella to come and let me know when everyone had arrived. Soon there was a rap on my door. “They’re here.” Stella said. “And so are the children.”

I put on my best smile and walked down the stairs. Everyone was gathered in the front room.

“Welcome,” I said. “Mother has been out of town and unfortunately, her return has been delayed. She wanted me to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. I’m Claire’s daughter, Kat Spencer. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed Mother and I are that she won’t be joining us, but I must say I have really been looking forward to this very special occassion.”

I walked over to the gentleman, who was standing closest to me. “Mr. Stein,” I said. “I’m delighted to meet you. I held out my hand and he took it in both of his for a moment.

“I’m looking forward to what promises to be a very pleasant evening,” he said. “Allow me to introduce you to my daughters.”

“Of course,” I turned to the older of the two. “You must be Vanessa, and you’re Alice. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such beautiful young ladies.”

I heard a small voice behind me say, “Well, lady, my name is Tio and I bet you’re pleased to meet me, too.”

I knelt down to greet the adorable grandson of Akeno and Goro Phin.

The Phin’s were pleasant, but openly curious. Caroline, the Alzheimer’s volunteer, was relaxed and friendly.

I walked over to Annette Morris, the Art Therapist, who was standing in front of the fireplace. She was not smiling.

“Ms. Morris, I…”

“Ms. Spencer,” (I was a little taken aback by the interruption. Annette Morris was looking right through me.) “How long will you be staying in Brewster?” She asked.

I felt very vulnerable at that moment, but I boldly forged ahead. “I’m making my home here now, Ms. Morris, and I must say, I’m looking forward to my new life and spending more time with my dear mother.”

I walked over and took a glass of champagne from the server’s tray. “May I propose a toast? To new friends and new adventures. Happy Thanksgiving.” Everyone raised their glass but Annette, who placed her glass on the mantle, excused herself, and left.

As if on cue, Stella came to get the children.

There were a few awkward moments after we were all seated in the dinning room, but soon small talk began and overall the dinner went well. We moved to the living room for dessert and coffee. The fireplace made the room feel cozy and everyone seemed relaxed. Throughout the evening, no one mentioned Annette Morris or offered an explanation as to why she left so abruptly.

As everyone began to say their goodbyes, Jack Stein and his daughters remained behind. “Girls, please go and thank Miss Stella, I would like a moment with Ms. Spencer before we leave.”

I had no idea what would come next. He sat in a chair facing me. He leaned back with his forefinger to his chin. He was looking me in the eye as if he was trying to find the right words to say what he wanted to say.

“Thank you for inviting us here tonight. I enjoyed the evening and I know my daughters did as well. I need to speak quickly before they come back. When you next talk with your mother, please give her my regards. Claire and I have been close friends for many years. I admire her more than any other person on earth. And also tell her this…considering the circumstances we find ourselves in, if she wants you to be a part of Project Truth or Consequences, I’m willing to consider it, and I’m sure most of the others will as well.”

“Mr. Stein, I doubt Mother will get that same feedback from Ms. Morris. Aside from that, I’m not sure what my mother has told you about me, and you’re not sure how much I know about you or your covert operation.”

“Please call me Jack. I believe you have established a good place for us to start when we meet again. I’m hoping that can happen in the very near future.”

“Let me know the time and place, Jack, and I will make myself available. And please call me Kat. You can be sure I will pass your message on to Mother.”

About that time, the girls, escorted by Stella, came back into the room.

Jack Stein rose and turned to Stella and the girls. “Thank you again Miss Stella. Kat… I will be in touch, soon.”

When the door shut behind them I turned to go upstairs to my room. I was drained and I didn’t want Stella to start asking questions. “Good night, Stella. Thank you for entertaining the children.”

“You’re very welcome,” she said. “I think Miss Claire will be very pleased when she learns that we almost pulled it off.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 7

Stella was beside herself. I needed to buy some time.

“Don’t worry, Stella,” I said. “It appears Mother has decided to do another one of her disappearing acts. She mentions a health spa. Apparently she hired a driver to take her there.”

“What health spa? Why would she go away the day before the dinner party she wanted to host so badly?”

So far, Stella wasn’t buying my explanation. “She doesn’t mention the name of the spa and she doesn’t want us to cancel the dinner party. We’re just going to have to accept things as they are. Now…how are you set for an elegant evening dress? Would you like to come shopping with me? My treat.”

Stella’s concern evaporated and within an hour, we were on our way.

We tried on everything we thought would be appropriate and some just for fun. In the end, we bought several things. We would, of course, wear the more formal dresses tomorrow.

When we got home, Stella went to prepare dinner and I went to my room to go over the letter of instructions Mother had left for me. I had to figure out what exactly was going on and why she was involving me.

The letter continued.

My dear Kathleen,

I know there is much for us to discuss, but that must wait for now.

I was hoping to remain here until after the dinner party, but my health was fading quickly, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to be an adequate host. The sea air only exacerbates my condition. Our guests must not be told how ill I am. They must think I’m able to carry on as usual. Don’t worry about Stella. They’re all used to her exaggerations.

Now for the matter at hand.

Wait for all five guests to arrive before making your appearance. Stella can greet them and the staff I hired can offer them refreshments.

When you enter the room, go to each guest and introduce yourself. You must play the part of my loving daughter and only child. Find a way to make them aware that you know things about them. Leave each of them curious about exactly how much you actually do know. This is a big gamble.

They must accept and trust you. If they allow you to replace me in our covert operation, you will be rewarded beyond belief. I’m begging you to accept this challenge, but Kathleen, ruby red slippers or not, you will never be back in Kansas again.

I’ll be on touch sometime tomorrow.

Love,

Mother

I had to learn more before I would commit to something that for now was elusive at best.

Mother said it was important for them to trust me. I had an idea.

If I was going to be any part of this, I was going to do it my way. I went to find Stella.

“Stella…please contact each of our guests. Appologize for the last minute change of plans. Tell them that in the spirit of Thanksgiving we would love to include their children. They shouldn’t be away from them on Thanksgiving Day, anyway. I believe one couple is raising a grandson. Tell them the dress will be holiday casual. The outfits you and I purchased today that better reflect our personalities, will be perfect.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 6

Mother appeared to be sleeping soundly so I left and went directly to my room. I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was take a long soak in the tub and go to bed.

I woke up early the next morning, and after getting dressed, I took the back stairs to the kitchen to make some coffee and get something to eat. The house seemed pretty quiet, so I assumed I was the only one up. I was wrong.

Shortly after I got to the kitchen, Stella came bustling into the room carrying a maraca in each hand. This lady who was my mother’s nurse/caretaker seemed a little strange to me.

“Good morning, Miss Kat! You did say to call you Kat. You look more like a Kathleen, but I’ll call you Kat if that’s what you prefer. Can I get you some breakfast?”

“Thank you Stella. I am rather hungry. I realized this morning that breakfast was the only meal I had, yesterday. Have you checked on Mother this morning? I went to talk with her when I got back from my walk, but she was sleeping.”

Stella looked a little uncomfortable and put down her maracas. “I was doing my morning exercises with my weighted maracas. I hope the noise didn’t wake you, but it’s much more fun to move to mariachi music, you know, like The rhythm is going to get you.”

“No, you didn’t wake me. I was asking about my mother.”

“Oh, yes. She was still sleeping when I looked in on her about an hour ago. I’ll fix her some tea and take it to her shortly. I’ll need to wake her. It’s almost time for her medication.”

“What exactly is the state of her health, Stella? She seems rather ill and extremely frail. Should she really be having all of those friends of hers here tomorrow for Thanksgiving?”

“I’ve been with your mother for ten years, Miss Kat. She has a serious heart condition. And let’s face it…old age takes it’s toll. As for her “guests,” it’s very important to her that you meet them and they you. Your mother will be happy to know you’re concerned about her well being.”

“What my mother did to me and her own mother and father was unforgivable, “I said rather abruptly. “But even I can’t be ugly to a sick and defenseless old woman.” Stella dished up scrambled eggs, bacon, and a fresh croissant for me. After she brought my coffee and juice, she prepared a tray to take to my mother.

“I’m sure Miss Claire will want to see you, Miss Kat. Are you planning to stay close to home today?”

“So far, I have no plans. I assume dinner tomorrow will be a casual affair.”

Stella turned and gave me a look I didn’t quite understand. “Oh, quite the contrary,” she said. “Miss Claire has arranged for a service to prepare and serve an elegant dinner. Have you seen the formal dining room?”

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Stella took the tray and left the kitchen singing, “The rhythm is going to get you, 1-2-3 Kick!”

I was pouring a second cup of coffee and pondering the thought of going shopping for tomorrow’s elegant dinner, when Stella came rushing back into the kitchen. She looked terrified. “She’s gone, Miss Kat! Miss Claire is gone!”

“That’s nonsense,” I said. “Mother isn’t capable of going anywhere. Is her wheelchair still beside the bed?”

At Stella’s bewildered look, I ran passed her and up the stairs. When I got to Mother’s room, the wheelchair was sitting beside the bed, but my mother was nowhere to be found. I was about to tell Stella to call the police when my eyes fell on an envelope on the night stand. It was addressed to me. I quickly tore off the end and removed a single sheet of paper. It was a letter from my mother.

My Dear Kathleen,

I desperately need you to trust me. You must follow the instructions I’m about to give you to the letter.

I was stunned by what I read. Stella was standing in the doorway wringing her hands. She was waiting for me to say something. All I could hear was my heart beating in my ears and the waves.

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Murdo Girl…Kicking off the holidays

You’ll say, “It’s not even Thanksgiving, yet. Please tell me you did not forget! Christmas things all have to stay… in boxes that are packed away. What is this world coming to? Is there something we can do?”

I’ve decided to be flexible. On turkey day I’ll be too full to climb the ladder by myself and put nutcrackers on the shelf.

When I’ve finished with that task I’ll take a moment to relax. Should I go all the way and decorate the tree today?

I’ll get extension cords and batteries, and things with lots of calories. I’ll put tea lights in small vases…scented pinecones in other places.

This is the plan that I’ll pursue, but I have something to tell you. I do things somewhat reversed. I always decorate me first.

(Living the dream will continue tomorrow!)

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 5

As I sat on the little bench and took in the magnificent view, I began to do something I hadn’t done in many years. I thought about my past. I read somewhere that life is either a big adventure, or it’s nothing. Had my life been nothing? My father had died suddenly when I was eleven. My mother worked as a buyer for a major antique auction house and traveled all over the world; consequently, I had spent most of my growing up years with my maternal grandparents.

I vowed early on in my life that I was not going to have children and I was not going to pursue a high pressure career. I wanted to play it safe, as they say. The fact that my mother left on an overseas trip the day I graduated from college and never came back, further validated both decisions.

I was an accountant for the same company in Seattle for thirty years. Five years ago, at the age of fifty-five, I was able to retire with a good pension. I thought I would be happy living in a retirement community in sunny Florida. I smiled at the thought of my lousy golf game. I wasn’t much better at bridge.

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Now here I was living near the beach in Brewster, Massachusetts. My mother had just given me a portfolio of the people she intended to invite for Thanksgiving dinner. Who does that? Could it be that my mother didn’t think I had sense enough to converse with her friends?

I opened the leather binder and began to read about our guests.

Annette Morris, age 45, divorced

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Art Therapist

Art therapy is an expressive form of therapy that works to improve a person’s overall well-being through artistic expression. Art therapists use it as part of a healing process, and it can help to reduce a patient’s stress and anxiety, improve self-esteem, and provide many other mental health benefits. Many patients find art therapy helpful as a way of getting assistance with personal development or working through past traumas. It is especially useful for those who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.

Annette has a masters degree in psychology and has a private clinic in Boston.

Jack Stein, Age 56, divorced, two daughters, 12 and 14

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Criminal investigator

Criminal investigators are law enforcement professionals in charge of solving complex crimes such as fraud, homicide, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. They use an extensive range of methods and resources. Jack, like forensic science technicians, collects and examines physical evidence. He also gathers other facts by interviewing people, looking through records, and observing the actions of suspects and persons of interest.

Jack works for the New York Police Department

Akeno and Goro Phin, 60 and 61, their only daughter was killed in an automobile accident. They are raising their eight year old grandson.

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Medical interpreters

Akino and Goro provide language services to non-English-speaking patients to help them communicate with doctors, nurses and other medical staff. They own and operate their own business in Hyannis, MA. They have a high level of communication skills in English, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

Caroline Simpson, age 59, separated, one grown son

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Volunteer, Alzheimer’s Association Advocate

With more than five million seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association advocates for better research, policies, and care for a significant portion of the senior population. They also provide resources and suggestions to people who want to do their part to advocate for Alzheimer’s patients. As the number of people with Alzheimer’s continues to grow, the organization has an important role to play in helping the seniors and their families affected by the disease.

I closed the binder and wondered what had brought this unlikely group together. When I got back to the house, I went to my mother’s room to ask her just that. She was lying in her bed with her face turned toward the window. I thought she must be looking at the beautiful sunset, but as I moved closer I could see her eyes were closed.

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Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 4

“I’m glad you find our conversation humorous, Stella. I wish to speak to my daughter alone. I’m sure you have something to keep yourself occupied while we discuss a few things of importance.” Stella shrugged her shoulders and turned to leave.

“Okay, Miss Clair, but I’ll be back in a while to give you your morning meds. Get her to eat something Kathleen.”

“Please, Stella…call me Kat. I’m sure my mother does as she pleases. At least she did thirty years ago.”

“Before you say anything, Mother. I have a few basics I need you to clarify. The envelope you sent me included a copy of the deed to this property. The accompanying document stated there were no conditions attached to the transfer of ownership, other than allowing you to stay here for a week during the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you’re not thinking we’ll have some sort of bonding experience and I’ll feel compelled to invite you to extend your stay.”

“I’m a woman of my word, Kathleen. The house is yours to burn down if that’s what you’d like to do. Just make sure Trixie is taken care of. If you read the document closely you must have noticed watching after Trixie was the only thing I asked of you.”

“I’ve never had a dog, Mother, but I’m sure we’ll manage.”

“Now,” she said. “Since this will be my last Thanksgiving spent here, I would like to invite a few people to join us. It’s very last minute, so we must plan quickly.

You should know a few things about this interesting little group. We’ll have Stella extend the invitations. I feel sure all five will RSVP. Would you please hand me the folder sitting on my bedside table?”

I did as she requested. She had been facing the window all the while we talked, but now she turned in her wheelchair to face me. I could tell my mother was very sick.

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“I’m assuming these friends of yours live close by,” I said. “It will be nice to meet some of my neighbors. I was wondering who watched over Trixie while you were away.”

“Yes, I had someone come in. Trixie hates to leave her home. As for our guests…this is a portfolio of the people who will be here the evening of Thanksgiving. Please review it closely. And to answer your question…all of them live on the Cape at different times of the year. Now excuse me dear, I’m going to eat something after which I’ll need to rest. Stella can be a real taskmaster. I find it easier these days to do as she asks.”

I felt like I needed some fresh air…salt air… yes, I needed salt air. I took the portfolio and headed for the beach where I found a bench to sit on.

I stayed there for two hours.

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Jack Stein
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Annette Morris
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Akeno and Goro Phin
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Caroline Simpson
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Crosby Lane, Brewster, MA