Jamie and her parents didn’t get to the ranch for another week. Brad had a lot of time to think about the future and all he knew for sure was that he wanted Jamie in it.
He had grown to love the big family that had been brought together through happenstance. He had people in his life to care about and who cared about him. His brother, Tom and sister, Barbie were enjoying spending time with their mother and getting to know each other as well. He had intended to join them, but he just couldn’t make that happen, yet.
Brad was thinking about all of this when he was headed to the kitchen for his morning coffee. He had a couple of hours before he had to leave for the airport to pick up Jamie and her parents. Dina was going with him in case Jamie’s mother who had just recently had a stroke, needed her attention.
As usual, Clark was already in the kitchen. He was normally the first one there in the mornings, so even though he didn’t drink coffee, he always had it made.
“Good morning Clark. I’m glad we’re the first ones up this morning. It’s been so busy around here, I haven’t had a chance to ask you if you were ever able to talk with your mother.”
Clark had been smiling, but it was quickly replaced with a look Brad didn’t quite understand. He brought Brad his coffee and got a glass of juice for himself before answering Brad’s question.
“Yes, I talked to my mamma last evening. I should be there, Brad. She needs me, but she told me not to come back. She doesn’t want me to come on home.”
“Listen son,” Brad said. “I told you that you could talk to me about anything and I would try to help with any problems you’re having to deal with, but I’m not going to pry. I figured you would ask for my input when and if you needed it.”
“Well Sir.” I guess I need it. It’s my daddy. He’s not a very good person. He’s got a hot temper and all of us go around in fear that we’re going to do or say something that will set him off. Mamma takes the brunt of it now, since I’m gone. She thinks the only way I can make a good life for myself is to stay away from there, but that don’t feel right, either.”
“Clark, I need to ask you something. Do you fear for your mother’s safety and what about your brothers and sisters? There’s five of you all together, right?”
“Yes, I have two brothers and two sisters…all younger than me. So far, he hasn’t laid into them, just me and Mamma. He roughs her up some, but he’s smart enough to know he needs her to cook, clean, and take care of the little ones. Mamma says it’s her lot to deal with. She says the best thing I can do for her is to make a better life for myself. She might be right.”
“I think it’s time for me to get to school, Sir. Maybe some day I can provide a better life for Mamma and the kids. Can you help me? I promise to work hard after school and on the weekends.”
Arf and Annie have been lying on the floor by the door and listening to all of this.
Arf: Why do I think there might be problems coming our way, Annie?
Annie: Because dogs sense things, Arf. I’m feeling the same thing you are. It’s the way we feel right before something bad happens.
Arf: We need to be on the look out, Annie. Maybe between the two of us, we can figure out what that something bad is.
Steve was going to take Katie to school, but Dina decided to look in on her daughter before going with Brad to the airport. She found her sitting at her pretty little vanity brushing her hair.
“My goodness, you’re up bright and early this morning. You must be excited about going to school. Is there something special going on?”
Katie put her brush down and looked at her mother.
“Remember Mommy? I brought a note home. Today is rally day. All the kids race and broad jump and things like that. I’ll have to sit in the stands and watch. I don’t want to go, Mommy. Please don’t make me go. Will you talk to Daddy?”
Dina felt like her heart was breaking. She also knew that the situation they found themselves in, was partially her fault. She had let Katie take her eye off the ball. She had not encouraged her to continue with her therapy. She could have made more progress and at least if not today, Katie would have felt like the possibility of doing the things the other children were doing could be something in her future.
“I want you to go today, Katie. I know it will be hard, but spend your time seeing what it’s all about. Tomorrow, I will take you and Arf to see your physical therapist, Sam, at the research hospital. It’s time you all got back to work. How does that sound.”
“Okay, Mommy. That’s a good idea.”
Katie’s daddy, Steve was mulling over some ideas of his own. He was wondering what the possibilities were that he might be able to lease Jamie’s farm. He really wanted to get his family together in their own place and the farm would be ideal. It was closer to town and not far from the ranch. He just had to pray that Jamie’s parents agreed to stay on…and that Dina would be willing to try putting their family back together in a place of their own.
Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen were both in the kitchen cooking up a storm.
“Why are you making pancakes” Miss B asked. “I thought we agreed we were having French toast this morning.”
“Well, I saw that you were making sausage. We always have sausage with pancakes and bacon with French toast.”
Brad was hoping that his regular cook, Alice would be back from vacation, soon.
“When is Alice coming back, ladies?”
Both Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen began to look a little nervous which Brad knew was not a good sign.
“Well,” Miss Bessie said. “She’s not exactly coming back.”
“What exactly does that mean?”
“She quit,” Grandma Helen said.