Murdo Girl…All in a day

***I was so proud of Katie. She could have walked more steps, but she’s really supposed to start learning how to stand and balance without the sticks.

Right now, I’m sticking by Jamie. I want her to notice me at all times just in case she’s going to the Vet Clinic. I really want to play with Annie. Please, Please, Please!!

Jamie knew she should talk to Brad about her visit to see Tom, but he rushed out to do his chores as soon as the excitement of seeing Katie take her first six steps died down some. She had to get to work soon, anyway. She was saying her goodbyes when she felt a cold nose on her hand.

“Arf…are you trying to tell me you want to come to work with me? Let me find out if that’s okay with Katie, first.”

Katie was curled up beside Dina. They were reading a book together, and it looked like Katie was ready to fall asleep. The poor thing was worn out. Dina saw that Arf was with Jamie and nodded her head.


“Looks like you get to go have fun with Annie today,” Jamie said. “I’ll like having the company, too. I miss you, Arf. I suppose I’d better bring you back here tonight, though. Katie will need you to help with her balancing exercises, tomorrow.”

Brad was disappointed that Jamie had to work. He was hoping she would want to go horseback riding with him. “It’s funny,” he thought. “It never used to bother me to spend days or even weeks at a time, alone. Now, I want to spend time with the people I love.”

In the end, Brad took a long ride by himself. It gave him time to think. Jamie said she had done her best, but had been unable to locate Tom. “Well,” he thought. “If Jamie can’t find him, then he must not want to be found.”

Brad had only been home a short time when Alice told him there was someone at the door who wanted to see him.

“Who is it?” Brad asked, just as a tall young man walked into the room. He immediately knew it was Tom and got up to offer his hand, which Tom didn’t take. Instead, he kept both hands in his pockets.

“I just had to see if everything Jamie told me was true,” he said. “She told a very different story than the one I know about.”

“Jamie? When did you talk to Jamie?”

“Yesterday…didn’t she tell you? She drove two hours one way just to tell me a pack of lies. Did you send her, Brad?”


“Look, Tom,” Brad was visibly upset. “I knew Jamie was looking for you on my behalf, but I had no idea she had found you much less talked with you. It was my understanding that she would give the information of your whereabouts to me, and I could follow up…or not! What did she tell you that has you questioning my integrity?”


“She gave me some contrived story about how you came across this place accidentally and purchased it for a little bit of nothing. I believe she said it had something to do with paying off back taxes. This is a nice house, Brad. Was anyone bidding against you on the courthouse steps?”

“Not that I have to explain myself to you, Tom, but I did a search and found out the house was owned by a bank. They were anxious to get rid of it. The house and the one acre that went with it were run down and they knew they wouldn’t get much for it, anyway, so I made a deal which included paying the amount equal to all the taxes owed.”

Tom folded his arms and leaned against the doorway. He hadn’t heard enough yet.

“Why would our grandparents let their house go? Aunt Mildred said they didn’t have a loan against it. Why would a bank own it? Besides…they had money. They lived in a pretty swanky retirement community which cost a fortune.”

“I don’t know, the story behind it, Tom. I only know they had renters in it after they moved who did a lot of damage to the house. The bank owned it and wanted to get rid of it, quickly. You can believe that or not, I really don’t care. It all happened a long time ago and I’ve put a lot of work into improving the place.”

The brothers stood there and just looked at each other. Both had run out of things to say.

It was at this point that Jamie and Arf walked in. Jamie could have sunk through the floor. It was very apparent that things weren’t going well between the brothers and it was entirely possible their anger would be turned on her.

“Tom,” she said. “I had no idea you were coming.”

Brad answered her without taking his eyes off Tom.

“Apparently not,” he said. Then he turned and walked out of the room.

Arf ran to get a frisbee.

Murdo Girl…Cottage fever

An Arf story is in the works, but I was too tired to write last night, and I was too tired to get up early enough this morning. In the meantime, I want to show you a few pictures. The first is a tiny glimpse of the sun setting on the lake. I took it from the porch of our tiny home. We now have a tiny home, a little cottage and a home on wheels. Even with three dogs and a cat, I think we’re good.

wp-1590804046533318350365089051146.jpgI found the cute little hand painted desk below on the Facebook Marketplace site. I’m back to moving things around and hoping I don’t have to remove something else. I don’t want to make the little cottage look or feel too crowded.

wp-15908039591133370634503788608864.jpg20200529_200307I’ve since moved it to the left a couple of inches and will see if I have room to put some of my hats back on the side of the storage cabinet. If not, I’ll hang them somewhere else.

Not finished with this thought, yet…I’m challenged by the fact that all of my electrical outlets are in one corner, and I have lots of things to plug in…(fireplace, air conditioner, lamp, computer, future CD player, etc.)


Kip has finished replacing the trim, and today, we’re going to power wash the siding. He is going to start working on the deck in the next few days while I start painting. Pretty exciting. The rain is even supposed to hold off for a while.

20200529_082025It was a busy day, yesterday, but a fun one. I got to have lunch at a friend’s house with two other friends that I haven’t spent much time with recently do to social distancing and the fact that people are most comfortable staying at home. It’s even a special treat to make a trip to the vet.


***Watch for an Arf story to be posted later today. That little dog has developed quite a following and I don’t want to disappoint…


Murdo Girl…Connie like

Does everyone go through times in their lives when they wish they could be exactly, I mean exactly like someone else? Do they change their hairdo, buy different clothes, join different groups, make different friends…Is this is sounding like some crazy person?

Thankfully, I never got caught, and I wasn’t what some people might think of as being a stalker. Though I have confessed many times, people don’t seem to be afraid when I come around. Well maybe when I’m dressed like Yram Sicnarf or Venus the laughter coach, but those two are just alter egos.

I’ve written so many times about my admiration for a certain girl I knew in high school, I won’t make you see that movie again, but something happened this week that really touched my heart. I will have to backtrack just a little, here.

When I started writing the longer fictional stories on my blog, I began with the story of Abbie Ann. The second book was The Story of Bonnie Blue. Both were inspired by dolls that I had purchased at the Goodwill store.

“B” was as far as I had gotten in the alphabet when I attended the All School Class Reunion of 2016 held in my hometown of Murdo, SD. The wife of Eddie Jackson, (one of my classmates) told me about a doll she had that reminded her of Connie Jackson, who was the subject of my deep admiration. (Connie was also Eddie’s sister.) They said when they got back to Nebraska, they would email me some photographs, which they did.

That was the first sign that a Connie doll story had to be my next endeavor. I now had a “C”… Eddie even helped me by writing true stories about what it was like for Connie and him to grow up on a ranch near Murdo and go to country school.

When I put my Murdo Girl Memories into a book, I wrote more about my days of worshiping Connie. I coined the phrase Connie like. My hair, clothes, shoes, school activities, like girls basketball and cheerleading, all had to be Connie like. I fell a little short on some of my Connie likes such as basketball, but I tried.


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When I moved all of my dolls and collections into my then she-shed, now cottage, I mentioned on the blog that I did not have the Connie doll. I have Bonnie Blue and Dakotah’s princess doll from my “D” story, and I have since changed my “A” story to Arf. I never published Abbie Ann, anyway. I don’t have an Arf doll, but I’m looking.

A couple of days ago I received something very special in the mail from a very thoughtful person who happens to be Connie Jackson’s cousin. Her name is Kerri Venard.

Meet the real Connie like.

Bonnie Blue is warming up to her…

My Dakotah’s Story princess doll is coming around, too. She and Connie like are about the same size.

Arf will love her…

This is a picture of Connie Jackson that was posted on the Murdo and Jones County Facebook page. She was modeling for some event. I think she was a senior in high school.

I didn’t see Connie again after high school. She was a couple of years older than me and we both moved away from Murdo. It was after I had written about her that I learned she had died of cancer at the young age of 63. I wish I could have seen and talked with her one more time.

Thank you, Connie, for the memories and thank you, Kerri, for giving me this beautiful Connie like doll. I love her.


Murdo Girl…Six steps

The next morning…

Jamie was so worried about telling Brad about her conversation with Tom that once again, sleep escaped her. She arrived at the ranch a little after seven, hoping to have a few minutes for one of Alice’s delicious cups of coffee before encountering Brad.

What she found was a house full of anticipation and excitement. Everyone including Katie was up and having breakfast at the huge table in the kitchen. Alice, Helen and Miss Bessie were all cooking and serving. Dina and Steve were sitting on either side of Katie, who had a big, but slightly nervous smile on her face. Mark was even there and Brad was seated at the table as well. Arf was lying on the floor beside Katie.

“Wow! I didn’t know all of you had missed me so much. I feel really honored that everyone got up so early to greet me…and just look at that breakfast. Seriously, I hope there’s room for one more!”

“I’m glad you’re here, Aunt Jamie,” Katie said. “After breakfast, Arf and I are going to show you something you’re really going to like. Can you stay? Please!!”

“I have to be at the clinic by ten, but if that’s time enough, I wouldn’t miss your surprise for the world.” Jamie decided this morning would not be the best time to approach Brad. It would just have to wait.

After breakfast everyone went to the great room. Katie told everybody to please take their seats. When the room had quieted down, she began to speak from her heart. The whole time she spoke, her hand was resting on top of the head of a very proud and pleased Arf.


“Arf and I have worked so hard and now we get to show you what we can do, but before we get started, I want to tell you something.” Katie was speaking to everyone, but her eyes were on her mother.

“When I first got to the research hospital, I was really afraid I wouldn’t be able to learn what everyone thought I could. Then Daddy brought you, Mommy and I was even more afraid that I would disappoint you. You see, I dreamed about you all of the time, and in my dreams when I was with you, I could walk. I never had to use this wheelchair. Then one day, Sam had a talk with me. He told me that I had a guardian angel and she had written something just for me. He helped me read it, and he told me to read it every day.”

Katie held a worn letter in her hand and she began to read from it. It was pretty obvious to everyone watching that she had memorized every word. They understood that the letter had been a lifeline for her these last few months. Instead of reading it, Katie talked about what it meant to her.

“My guardian angel said that she could tell I was confused or afraid of something. She said that maybe I didn’t want to make a big life-changing decision and even though I knew trying to learn to walk was what was best for me, I hadn’t been able to make the decision to try my best. She said I had to decide to believe in myself and my abilities no matter how afraid I was. She said that I must believe in the power of my protector in heaven and know that he had given me Arf. She told me there were six things that would help me through it all…

  • Having a peaceful heart
  • Love for my family
  • The love of my family who would always be there no matter what…
  • Appreciation for my new home and the wonderful life I have been given
  • Trust in myself and Arf.
  • And most of all, belief in my protector in heaven who had given me a special friend named, Arf, who loves me unconditionally and is eager to help me to be my very best.

She said she was my guardian angel and she knew if I kept my mind focused on those six things, that I was going to be okay.”

(It is in our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light…)

Everyone in the room was spellbound. They couldn’t believe that this little girl, who had been through so much, had garnered so much strength and wisdom.

“Mommy, I’m so sorry I thought you left me last night. It makes me really sad when I make you sad. I love you so much and I’m going to try really hard to do better. I have the best Daddy in the whole world and I believe in what my angel told me.

Come here Arf. I want to take you for a walk.”

Steve was the only one in the room who had seen Katie and Arf perform their magic. Even so, he was mesmerized along with everyone else. He knew he and Dina, as well as all the others who loved little Katie, would be forever grateful to her heavenly protector who had given her such a wise guardian angel and a wonderful and caring physical therapist named Sam.

Their hearts were filled with joy as they watched Katie with the help of her amazing dog, Arf, take six beautiful steps.

Murdo Girl…Do dreams come true?

***I saw Blackie was gone. I don’t know if that’s the horse’s name, but I call him Blackie because he’s black. Dina wasn’t home and I know for sure that Katie wanted to show her that she could walk six steps right away. Then I saw Steve and Brad take off and I figured they went looking for Dina and Blackie. Then I saw that Blackie was back, but Dina wasn’t, so the only thing I could do was to go and find her. I went down the same road I went with Steve when we saw that little house. I don’t know why that’s the direction I went, but it’s a good thing I did.

Dina wasn’t on the road. She was off the road. I couldn’t really see her that well, but I saw something move in the tall grass and I went to have a look. It was Dina.

“Arf? Arf? is that you? Please help me. I twisted my ankle and it’s already swollen twice it’s size.”


***I could see she was hurting. I went over to her and barked and then turned around to go get Steve and Brad.

“Don’t leave me here, Arf! It’s getting dark. The horse got spooked by a rattlesnake and I fell off and landed on my ankle. Luckily the snake had slithered off by then, but I don’t want to be laying here in the dark with rattlers around. Stay with me. I know someone will eventually drive down that road and they’ll be close enough for you to be able to hear them and get their attention. I heard a car on the road earlier, but I was too far away for them to hear me yelling. Oh, Arf…I don’t know how much of what I’m saying you even understand, but please…stay with me.”

***I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do, but I stayed with her, anyway. I didn’t want to leave her by herself in the dark.

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Brad drove everywhere he could think of that a horse could go and was about to return to the house to see if they had heard anything, when he decided to backtrack and go down the road to the house he and Steve had gone to earlier. It was dark and he was beginning to get very worried. Wherever Dina was, she was on foot, and where was Arf?

A little while later, Arf heard Brad’s truck and so did Dina. He didn’t wait for her to give him permission. He left her to go chase Brad down. Brad was driving slowly, so it was easy to get his attention.

“Arf!!!…I was really hoping you would have Dina with you.”

Arf did his usual bark and follow me routine and Brad did as he was told. They hadn’t gone far when he saw Dina. She was about a half mile from the road and she was sitting there in obvious pain.

“Brad…Thank God. I was beginning to wonder if Arf and I were going to have to be here all night. The horse got spooked by a rattlesnake and I fell off. Guess I’m not quite the horsewoman I thought I was.”

“I’ll drive the truck over here in a minute, but let me take a look at that ankle. I need to know if I should take you home or to the emergency room.”

“No Brad. The emergency room is not an option. I’ve probably already missed Katie’s homecoming. Have you seen her? Do you know how she did?”

“I’ll let them tell you all about it when we get home. We’ll at least get that ankle iced down and see how everything looks in the morning.”

When they got home, Steve told them that poor Katie had cried herself to sleep. “Why couldn’t you just stay here and wait for her?” Steve knew he had no right to be so angry. Dina was already in a lot of physical pain. “I’m going to check on Katie and then I’m going to bed.”

Dina wanted in the worst way to ask if she could come with him, but there was no way she could put any weight on her ankle. Besides, she had a feeling he would refuse to allow her to take a peek at her daughter. In his eyes, and most definitely Katie’s, she was still not to be trusted. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t stop the tears.

Things Rich People Never, Ever Say | Reader's Digest

“I brought you some ice and a sandwich,” Brad said as he walked right past Steve who was leaving. He could see the tears in Dina’s eyes and he knew they had nothing to do with her ankle. She was an emotional wreck.

“Did Steve tell you that Katie did well today? She can’t wait to show you what she and Arf have accomplished. Tomorrow is a new day, Dina, and it’s going to be a good one. Just keep believing in yourself and that beautiful little girl of yours. Right, Arf?”

***Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark…Here comes Miss Bessie. Maybe she’s got a good bone for me.

Miss B

“Brad…Jamie’s on the phone for you. Here Arf…here’s your bone. As always, you certainly deserve it! And guess what? Jamie is coming to talk to Brad tomorrow and then she is going to take you to the vet clinic for a play date with Annie. Looks like you get the day off!”


***But what about Katie? She needs me to show Dina that she can take six steps. I’m staying here. Maybe Jamie can take me the next day….

Later that night, when Brad was helping Dina to her room and Helen was along to help her change and get her settled in, Dina asked if she could just peek in Katie’s room. She needed to see her daughter if only for just a second.

Helen looked at Brad and nodded her head.


“Isn’t she beautiful?” Dina whispered.

She heard a little voice in the darkness say, “I can’t wait until tomorrow, Mommy. I’m going to tell you all about my six steps. Daddy said you fell off the horse and hurt your ankle. Maybe Arf and I can teach you how to walk six steps, too. We’ll do it together. Goodnight Mommy…I love you.”

Murdo Girl…Don’t miss the Murdo blowout!

I promised a party and I always keep my promises, so let’s have some fun!

What: A Good Time in Murdo

When: Wednesday

Where: In the Harold Thune Auditorium on the Jerald Applebee floor



Every Murdoite from the youngest to the oldest is chocked full of excitement about the upcoming blowout at the Harold Thune Auditorium. Mr. Applebee has been cleaning his floor all week and boy does it shine! Good work Coach. Mr. Palmer has changed out all the light bulbs in the crow’s nest, so everyone should be able to toot their horns and beat those drums with amazing accuracy. There’s nothing better than a band that can see.


I’m bringing homemade popcorn
I’m Murdo Girl and Billy’s Mom and I’m proud as punch

There will be so many children’s activities, the little ones will run Mom and Dad absolutely ragged. To name a few, there’ll be piggy back rides, on the backs of the basketball team, bobbing for lemons in a tub full of free water donated by Murdo Wall Drug, and lemons from Sanderson’s store. We’ll have pin the tail on the Coyote, and the Queen has offered to be in charge of the pony rides in the parking lot.

We know that the little darlings can get away from you sometimes, so Deputy Fife has set up a “Nip it in the Bud” stand where you can go and holler for your kid on the megaphone. He will also be lurking around incognito. That way if he spots trouble brewing, he can nip it in the bud. Murdo Girl will be assisting him when needed.

snow hat barney


For adult entertainment, there will be a twist off. This is for men and women under 40. The older people should not participate. It’s hard on your core to twist like that. For the geriatric crowd, there will be a place reserved in the SW corner of the auditorium where you are welcome to dance the tango if you’d like. Hopefully, it will be one of your good days. A single plastic rose will be provided for as long as the supply lasts. Some like to hold a flower in their teeth when they dance. One rose per couple please. Unless you can twist and tango to patriotic music, you’ll have to wait until the glee club is finished and the band starts to play.

40 and above only please

Under 40 welcome

I borrowed these photos from Judy Dykstra Brown’s blog, Lifelessons. I’ll give them back Judy.

We are committed to using every square inch of space in the auditorium. As previously mentioned, The girls glee club will be on the stage. They will be singing a series of patriotic songs. You won’t be able to see their performance because the curtain will be closed. We decided that we wanted the singing to be subtle and kind of drifting in the air. Having the curtains closed will promote the atmosphere we’re shooting for.


Speaking of shooting..When the glee club takes a break, there will be a shoot the basketball contest. You have to shoot from the free throw line. Five out of five baskets will get you a prize. It will most likely be a lemon meringue pie from Mack’s Cafe. Four out of five gets you a box of Millionaire candy from The Murdo Wall Drug Store. Ever since all the Wall Drug signs were moved to direct the tourists to Murdo, the store has become pretty flush and they wish to share their wealth.

These boys will be on hand to sign autographs.

In the girl’s locker room, Madame Queen will be telling your fortunes. She recently obtained a Certificate in Fortune Telling from the School of Mediums in New Underwood. I’ve heard she’s extremely accurate. She will tell you anything you want to know without even asking any questions. Consult Madame Queen on love, marriage, wills, and power’s of attorney. She will succeed where others have failed. She will even review your blood work if you want her to. Your reading will be private and confidential. A line will be formed at the top of the stairs, by the back door. If we have to, we’ll even rope off an area so people don’t try to cut in.

I thought I was in charge of the pony rides

The mega talented Photographic drawer, Sherri Miller will be in the boy’s locker room where for a nominal fee, she will draw your photograph. If you’d like, you can contact her early and show her what colors you’ll be wearing. That way, she can pick up the pencil that most closely matches your outfit, at The Gambles store on her way over.

Has the Queen seen this Sherri?


A few housekeeping matters

Just to avoid confusion, males and females will be allowed in both locker rooms for this event.

Parking will be tight, so walk if you’re able. Some of you live real close.

Now…Have yourself a ball!!

Murdo Girl…Let’s have a parade

Murdo Girl and Arf are taking the day off! He wants to spend the day playing with Annie. I’m posting a rerun of the parade we had when Barney Fife and MG were running for Next Pres. This in no way is meant to put forth any future political aspirations for the Lone Wolf or Coyote parties. They only like the parties and parades…

The Coyote and Lone Wolf Parade

The Parade Grand Marshall, (sniff) Deputy Sheriff, (sniff) and Lone Wolf candidate (sniff), Barney Fife


Barney Fife’s Campaign Slogan

This is Barney Fife. I’m running for President of these United States in the 2016 election. I’ll be the one, and might I add, the only one, on the Lone Wolf Party Ballot.(Pulls his pants up and sniffs.)

I was having coffee and donuts at Fern’s Cafe, and I got wind of the Parade old Murdo girl is planning. The idea is to knock old Barney out of the running. She’s on the tired old Coyote ticket. Well I’ll have you know that a parade can’t happen in Murdo without the law involved, and I represent the law. I’m what keeps this town safe from riff raff. Yup,(sniff), me and my trusty partner (pats his holster), (sniffs again).

Now here’s what’s gonna happen. You can say you heard it right here from Deputy Barney Fife. I was plannin to nip the whole idea in the bud, but (pulls his pants up and sniffs), two can play Murdo Girl’s old game. This Lone Wolf has out foxed the Coyote. Yesiree, you got it.


(Barney sniffs and continues) I’m gonna let the parade plannin keep marching on, with one little bitty change. Old Barney here is going to be the Grand Marshall . Yesiree, that’s right. I’ll also be the voice on the megaphone announcing everything in that parade from the engine to the caboose. Thelma Lou and her friend Louise are plannin to be on hand to help organize things. Thelma Lou is my girlfriend and she’s a good organizer. Yup (pulls up pants and sniffs), Thelma Lou and Louise will be hittin town tomorrow.




I’m Murdo Girl and I can’t believe Deputy Barney Fife has hijacked our Parade plans. He’s bringing in Thelma Lou and Louise too, but even if you count his gun, that still only makes a team of 4. On the Coyote team, we’ve got Murdo Girl, the Queen, Yram Sicnarf, Lav Yekcel, Jerry Elrod, and we’ve also got “An Otis in the hole.” That’s right. When Barney locks up the Jones County Jail tonight, there’s going to be a little surprise for him. More on that later.



The Coyote Bystanders


The Lone Wolf Bystanders

Will Barney Fife stop complaining and start campaigning? Will Otis make the Jones County Jail his permanent residence? Will Thelma Lou and Louise make the Jones County Jail their permanent residence? Will they even make it to Murdo, or will they get confused by all the Wall Drug signs?

How will Barney separate the riff raff from the riff raff? Will Murdo Girl keep her campaign promise to relocate Wall Drug to Murdo and offer “Free Ice Water”? Will the nickels start rolling into Murdo Girl’s coffers, so Jerry will have something to count? Will Lav come up with some effective campaign stunts? Then there’s the Queen…Hmm, Long Live the Queen!

Murdo Girl…Arf goes hunting

It was a long drive to the Jamison Research Hospital. Steve drove his truck with Katie sitting in the middle and Arf on other side by the passenger window. Steve noticed Katie said very little and kept her arm around Arf for the entire drive.

“Are you nervous about today, honey?” Steve asked. “I know I should have paid more attention to what you and Arf have been doing these past several weeks, but you have been so secretive and you sure spend a lot of time off by yourselves.”

“I’m not nervous, Daddy, and I’m glad that you are going to be the only one there when we show Dr. Philips and Dr. Jones what we’ve been practicing.”

Steve chose not to broach the subject of Dina. Katie had been adamant that she didn’t want Dina there today. He had actually felt sorry for Dina when he told her that he thought it best that she didn’t come with them. He promised to report everything the doctors said about Katie’s progress or lack thereof. Dina said she understood, but he knew she was hoping for more. She had been trying hard to give Katie space yet show her that she loved her very much.


***Well, we’re on our way home. Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, and Bark. That keeps going through my head over and over. What’s it going to be like when Katie takes twenty steps. She did great today. She took all six steps and could have taken more, but she had in her mind that she had to go six steps today, no more and no less. The doctors were very happy and they sent us to Sam for another lesson. He taught us how to start working together on Katie’s balance. The next thing was for her to stand without the walking sticks. She’s not supposed to walk without them yet, but she is supposed to stand on her own for longer and longer periods of time.

I sure hope Jamie is going to the Vet Clinic tomorrow. I’m in the mood to play with my friend Annie. We like to hunt for things.


“Katie, honey. I am so proud of you and Arf! I had no idea you two had come so far. Why did you keep it such a secret?”

“You’ll see, Daddy. Can I show everybody just as soon as we get home? Please Daddy I want to show everyone!”

“What about your mommy, Katie. Are you going to show her what can do?”

“Yes, Daddy. I really want to show Mommy that I can walk six steps.”

“Okay, but it’s all right if you change your mind about doing it tonight. Maybe you should wait until you’ve rested a little.”

“Oh no, Daddy. I could have taken a bunch of more steps today. I just didn’t.”

But when they got home, Dina wasn’t there. She couldn’t stand just waiting around the house for the day to pass, so she convinced Brad to saddle up one of his riding horses for her. She told him she had ridden many times…she just didn’t tell him it had been more years than she could count. He told her exactly where to go so she wouldn’t get lost and told her what time she should head back in order to be home before dark.

She felt so comfortable in the saddle she opted for a different route. She had heard Steve talk about the road he took on horseback from Brad’s ranch to the house she and Steve had once owned. She loved that house and she wanted to see it again even though she had been there only a few short weeks before. “If only,” she thought. “If only she would have stayed. How different things might have been now.”

Steve had just helped Katie into her wheelchair and was helping her to the kitchen when Brad walked out to greet them.

“Well…I see Arf’s tail is going a hundred miles a minute and you two have some pretty big smiles on your faces. My guess is the day went well. Miss Bessie, Grandma Helen, and Alice are going to be happy they argued themselves through fixing a special dinner for you tonight.”

“Are Dina and Jamie here?” Steve asked. “Katie and Arf were hoping to show them something.’

“Dina went for a horseback ride. I’m really surprised she’s not back yet. I was just coming out to see if she was down by the barn when I saw you pull in. I planned to unsaddle her horse for her. I don’t know where Jamie is, either. I was by her house earlier and she wasn’t there. I was sure she said she didn’t have to go into the clinic today.”

Steve had a bad feeling. He knew Katie would forgive Jamie if she didn’t make it. She didn’t live at the ranch anymore and she hadn’t been quite as involved in knowing the significance of today. Dina was a different story. She was Katie’s mother and he got the feeling that if Katie couldn’t share her success with her now, it would be a huge setback in the building of their relationship. One they both needed so much.


Everyone else waited in the kitchen while Brad and Steve took Brad’s truck to look for Dina. “She was just going to ride up to the little pond a few miles North. She must have changed her mind,” Brad said as they were on their way back.

“I have an idea,” Steve said. “She might have tried to find our old house. She was just there a few weeks ago, but she wasn’t on horseback and she was coming from a different direction. If she got off the road, she could very well be lost.”

The two of them drove all the way to the house and saw no signs of Dina. They tried to ask the new owners if she had been there, but they weren’t home.

They headed back to the ranch, hoping Dina had made it back.

“Look!” There’s the horse Dina was riding,” Brad said. She must be back!”


When they got inside, Miss Bessie met them at the door. “The horse came back,” she said, “but Dina wasn’t with him, and now Arf is gone. He must have gone to find Dina.”

“Where is Katie?” Steve asked.”

“She’s upstairs with Helen who is trying to convince her granddaughter that her mommy didn’t leave her again. Katie keeps saying she was too late. She had six things to tell her mommy and she was too late.”,

“You stay here, Steve” Brad said. “Katie needs you and I know the area much better than you do. Besides, Arf is looking. He’ll find Dina.”

Murdo Girl…And all of their names were Jim

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States…a day set aside for honoring and mourning the military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

These are four very different stories about soldiers who either died in battle or spent their lives honoring their fellow comrades who, to them, were indeed fallen heroes.


James Gresham

Among the first American Dough boys to be sent to the front, James Gresham was a Hoosier who would be one of the first American soldiers to reach the battlefield in France and one of the first to give his life in the First World War. He was an average American from humble beginnings whose life was consistently characterized by personal sacrifice: both at home in Evansville, where he chose working to support his family over continuing his education, and on the Western Front where he was among the first Americans in World War I to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country and its ideals. James Bethel Gresham was one of America’s first fallen heroes in France whose actions, throughout his life, reflected a sense of duty and selflessness that we have now come to expect of the American soldier and citizen.


Jim Radford

Jim Radford didn’t die in combat, but he did much to make sure those who died were remembered.

He was the youngest known participant in the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

He was a 15 year old ‘galley boy’ serving with the Merchant Navy on the Empire Larch. The Merchant Navy was not officially allowed to sign up under-16 year olds, but the teenager had found a towing company who turned a blind eye to his age.

His first deep sea trip took him to Normandy to help build the Mulberry Harbour, allowing the Royal Navy to transport personnel, vehicles and supplies onto the beaches.

Twenty-five years later Jim returned to find a very different scene. Children were playing where soldiers had died and Jim was moved to tears. His emotional song tells that story.

Jim released his music to raise funds for the British Normandy Memorial.

Korean War

Army Master Sgt. James G. Cates

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that Army Master Sgt. James G. Cates, 29, of Philadelphia, Mississippi, killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on May 31, 2019.

In late November 1950, Cates was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. The American forces withdrew south with the Chinese attacks continuing. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining Soldiers had been either captured, killed or went missing in enemy territory. Because Cates could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 3, 1950.

In September 1954, as part of Operation Glory, where the United Nations Command, Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces and Korean People’s Army exchanged war dead at Munsan-ni, South Korea, the United Nations received 25 sets of remains reported to have been recovered from isolated burial sites east of the Chosin Reservoir. The remains were sent to the Central Identification Unit for attempted identification. One set, designated X-15903 was declared unidentifiable. They were then transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP,) known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu and were interred as Unknown.


In February 2013, following thorough historical and scientific analysis, X-15903 was disinterred from the Punchbowl and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

To identify Cates’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Today, 7,631 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by Korean officials, recovered from Korea by American recovery teams or disinterred from unknown graves. Cates’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl along with others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette was placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Vietnam War

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Williams

“The Man at the Wall”


He became an icon, even though relatively few people knew who he was.

Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Williams continued to serve his country long after retiring from his 20 years in uniform.

Williams was portrayed as “The Man at The Wall” in the “Reflections” print. His head was bowed and eyes closed in grief, with a hand pressed against a few of the more than 58,000 names that are etched into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The names are those of American servicemen and women who died in Vietnam or later succumbed to wounds they received there.

“The Man at The Wall” cannot see that another hand is pressing against his, and that the shades of several soldiers and nurses are looking back at him. (Eight women, all of them nurses, are among America’s Vietnam War dead).

Williams was one of the first to join the Vietnam Veterans of America and played a part in creating Cumberland Chapter 172 of the VVA when it was formed in 1984.

“Jim was a great patriot, serving his country with honor and pride,” Chapter President Bob Cook said.

“Jim posed for Lee Teter (who painted the original ‘Reflections’) as being a businessman visiting the Vietnam Memorial Wall,” said Cook. “And one can infer what is going through this man’s mind and heart while honoring those names on The Wall.
Even if they didn’t know his name, it’s likely that millions of men and women loved him because of what he represented.

He represented them … and the pain, loss and survivor’s guilt they felt for those who didn’t come home with them, some of whom they had grown to love and think of as family, a bond that cannot be understood by those who haven’t been a part of something like it.

“Jim was a very humble person,” said Sours. “He never brought it up in the 20 years I knew him, and that’s the way he wanted it.”

Sours said Williams hadn’t believed he deserved to be in the print because he had never been in combat. He accepted the role because of what “Reflections” represented and because it would help Chapter 172.

“Every Vietnam veteran in this country should feel the way I feel about Jim because of what he did for them with that print,” Sours said.

The VVA was founded in 1979 with the motto, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

Murdo Girl…Working it out

Jamie was already at the cafe when Tom walked in. She new immediately it was him. He had the same cautious smile that Brad did, and although he was a little taller than Brad, both had the same fast walk.

knowing that she might not be as easy to recognize, Jamie got up from the booth and walked over to shake Tom’s hand.

“Good morning, Tom. I’m Jamie White and I’m really happy to meet you.”

“I hope you haven’t been waiting long,” Tom said. “I thought I was right on time.”

“Oh you were. I made the trip faster than I thought I would, but really…I’ve only been here a few minutes. Please sit down. As you can see, I was quick to order a cup of coffee. Would you like something?” Jamie asked.

“Aren’t I supposed to be the chivalrous one?” Tom was grinning. “Would you like to join me in a bite to eat? I’m starving.”

Jamie declined. There was no way she was going to try to eat. Not as nervous as she was feeling.

When the server came over, Tom ordered a massive breakfast and then suggested they get right to the point.

“Let’s talk,” he said. “You must have something pretty important on your mind to track me down and then drive all the way here to meet with me.”

Jamie swallowed, took a deep breath and started with what she knew.

“Are you aware that Brad managed to acquire your grandparent’s old house? The one they lived in right before moving to the retirement community. They had leased the property out and it was in pretty bad shape. For some reason your grandparents weren’t able to hang on to it. Brad found out about the situation and was able to buy the house and the little bit of property that went with it. He has worked really hard over the years, and he now has the most beautiful horse ranch.”


Tom had been listening intently. He hadn’t received his food yet, so he began to tell Jamie what he knew.

“I heard another side to that story, but it doesn’t really matter any more. I’m happy for Brad, He’s always loved horses.”

“I know we don’t have a lot of time, Tom and there is something else I need you to know before I get to the point of my visit. It would take too long to tell you how his house has become filled with people in the past few months, but there is also a family dog.”

Jamie stopped talking while the server gave Tom his food. She was thinking she was probably talking too fast, anyway.

“Please go on,” Tom said as he put butter and syrup on his pancakes.

“I bought a farm from an older lady who now lives at Brad’s house. He was nice enough to let me look through the things that were stored in the attic in case I could use them at the farm. Our dog, Arf, came up there with me. While we were looking through things, Arf found a bundle of letters and brought them to me. Having no idea they were correspondence between your Grandmother and your Aunt Mildred, I mean I didn’t have a clue who they were or what they were talking about at first.”

“Are you telling me you read the letters?” Tom asked.

“Well yes, and I’m very sorry. It was very wrong of me.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s done. What did the letters say?”

“Your Aunt explained to your grandparents that you had been the one to start the fire and not Brad. Apparently you could no longer live with the lie that Brad had convinced you to tell and you confessed.”

Tom put his fork down and leaned back in the booth. “I assume Brad read the letters as well.” he said.

“Yes…your Aunt went on to say that after your confession, their relationship with you changed. You became very belligerent and wouldn’t follow the rules of the house. She said she and your uncle didn’t object when you said you were going to join the service.”


“So far, that’s pretty accurate,” Tom said. “Except I was surprised that my telling them the truth would affect them like it did. Aunt Mildred couldn’t stand to have me in her sight and she told me as much. I had killed her sister. Tell me…in the letters, what did my grandparents say?”

“Jamie had no choice but to answer Tom truthfully. “They said they had no desire to have either you or Brad in their lives. They both sounded very bitter.”

The server came and removed Tom’s plate. He had eaten very little. “Sorry I ruined your appetite,” Jamie said.

“So you’re saying that Brad has only just learned all of this? I suppose you’re going to tell me he was very moved by the revelation and he wants to revive the old brotherly affection that hasn’t existed since before the fire. The fire that I started. Brad left me with our aunt and uncle and never looked back. I never heard from him again.”

“Let me tell you why I’m here, Tom. Please listen to what I have to say and then I will leave. After that, you can do whatever you feel is best.”

“Brad was just sixteen years old when your aunt and uncle took you in. He said they really had no use for him. You were so young and he knew you needed someone to take care of you. He thought your aunt and uncle would treat you well. They had no reason not to. They believed Brad was the one who started the fire. He was the guilty one in their eyes. He thought you were in good hands and would have a good life and he didn’t want to disturb that.”

“I joined the service with my aunt and uncle’s permission when I was seventeen.” Tom was leaning forward now, with both arms resting on the table…The fact that his fists were clenched gave away the emotion he was feeling. “I have been on my own for years. I always wondered if my brother ever thought about me.”

Jamie felt tears fill her eyes. “That’s the irony of it, Tom. You were both waiting to hear from the other. You both wanted desperately to be a part of each other’s lives, but no one made the first move….You see, when you aren’t involved in someone’s day to day life, you assume everything with them is wonderful. You don’t know about their fears, insecurities, and loneliness and they don’t know about yours.”

Jamie couldn’t tell if she was reaching Tom or not, but she had said all she had come to say and it was time to leave.


“I’m going now, Tom. I know you have to report to work soon. I really hope you and Brad find a way to have that brotherly relationship you both deserve. I plan to have the same conversation with him. May I have your permission to tell him we talked? He will be so proud of you when he finds out you pilot a plane for a fire rescue team.”

Tom nodded his head and got up to shake Jamie’s hand. “Have a safe trip back,” was all he said.


***We’re going to the doctor tomorrow and Katie and I are going to show everybody how many steps she can take. Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, and Bark…One thing makes me sad. I heard Katie ask her dad, Steve, not to bring Dina. I wonder why she doesn’t want Dina to come and see her walk for the very first time? After all, Dina is Katie’s mom.

Right now I’m going to chase that squirrel over there.