In the last chapter of Arf’s story, Katie and Arf were back at the ranch. Katie woke up the first morning with a terrible stomach ache. Her crying woke Arf. The training they had learned at the research hospital kicked in and without even thinking about it, Arf was able to transfer Katie from her bed to her wheelchair. Katie also remembered exactly what she was supposed to do.
Arf pushed Katie’s wheelchair to the kitchen where they found Katie’s Grandma Helen. Katie was crying and doubled over with pain.
“Oh my goodness, honey.” Grandma Helen rushed to Katie and desperately tried to figure out what was wrong with her little granddaughter. “Tell me where you’re hurting.”
“My stomach hurts so bad I can’t even breathe. My chest hurts, too. I’m scared Grandma. What is wrong with me? Am I going to die?”
“No honey, you’re not going to die. Arf…go get Steve. He’s headed for the paddock to find Brad. I’m going to get the thermometer and take your temperature Katie. You feel feverish.”
***I was so worried. What could be wrong with Katie? She was crying so hard. Must find Steve…Must find Steve. There he is! I started barking and ran back in the direction of the house, but Steve didn’t follow me. Oh, no! He thinks I’m playing with him. I ran back to him again and barked. Then I ran toward the house again. This time he got it and came running behind me.
When we got back to the kitchen, Katie was moaning and her eyes were closed. Grandma Helen Was holding a wet cloth to her head.
“Steve! Something is terribly wrong. She is burning up and her breathing is shallow. She was complaining about her stomach hurting. Hurry and call Doctor Simpson. I was afraid to leave Katie’s side to do it. I feared she would fall out of her chair.
Steve ran to the phone and with clumsy fingers, dialed the number and was able to get through to Doctor Simpson’s office. Once he explained Katie’s symptoms, the doctor said to get her to the hospital and he would meet them there.
***Brad was back before they left, so he drove Katie, Grandma Helen, and Steve to the hospital. Miss Bessie and I stayed behind. We didn’t want to, but we had to. Miss Bessie called Jamie.
By the time they got to the hospital, Katie was bordering on delusional, and she was going in and out of consciousness.
“Mommy are you here? I need you Mommy. I’m so sick. I need you, Mommy!”
While it broke Steve’s heart to hear his daughter call out for the mother who left her seven years before, it also infuriated him. This was all so unfair to Katie.
In the midst of his anger, he remembered what Doctor Philips had said to Dina and him. He said they should put the past behind them for the sake of their daughter. Steve looked at Helen who was standing beside him. Katie was on the examining table in the emergency room and a nurse was getting her temperature and blood pressure.
“Helen, I need to make a quick phone call. Tell Dr. Simpson I’ll only by a minute.”
Dina answered the phone on the second ring. When he told her about Katie, she said she would take the next bus which would get her to a stop near the hospital in a little less than two hours. Dina didn’t own a car.
The doctor was there by the time Steve got back to the emergency room. “We’re taking her to surgery,” the doctor said. “This child’s appendix has burst. I just hope peritonitis hasn’t set in.”
Jamie went right to the ranch to wait with Miss Bessie and Arf. Poor Katie…She had been through so much, and for the first time, she had hope…hope that after spending her whole young life in a wheelchair, she might be able to walk.
***Miss Bessie started dragging out pots and pans and flour and sugar and eggs and everything she could find in the refrigerator. Too bad for me, she didn’t drag out any bones. I like bones when I get nervous and I was really nervous. What if Katie doesn’t come back? I can’t even think about that. Jamie was nervous, too. I could tell.
“Let’s go outside Arf. I’ll throw the frisbee to you. Miss Bessie, will you holler at us when Steve calls? We’ll be right out front.”
While waiting for the bus, Dina walked across the way and found herself in an empty church. She walked up to the front, knelt down, and prayed for her daughter. “I won’t pray for forgiveness,” she whispered. “I will pray for Katie to heal. Please, God, heal her body and her soul.”