Murdo Girl…Speechless

When Brad pulled up to Jamie’s farmhouse, he sat in his truck for a few minutes before going in. Jamie said the door wasn’t locked. She had been there earlier in the day and hoping he would agree to meeting her tonight, she hadn’t locked up. She said she would get there as soon as she could and to please be patient.

Brad couldn’t make sense of it. Where was she and why didn’t she meet him at the airport like she had promised? He decided to wait inside.

“Come on, Arf. Let’s go on in.”

Arf: Boy a lot has happened since I first got here and Miss Bessie took me in. Brad’s right. Jamie was my first human owner. I sure hope she’s okay.

Even though Jamie had spent very little time at the farm since she bought it from Miss Bessie, everywhere Brad looked, she was there. This is where he saw her for the first time. He remembered feeling disappointed when she said she only came to pick Arf up, and then she was going on to her parent’s home, several hundred miles away.

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Well what do you know, he thought. The brave cowboy is scared…he couldn’t imagine a life without Jamie in it, but judging by today, maybe she didn’t feel the same way. Maybe that’s what tonight was all about.

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It was after dark when he saw Jamie’s Jeep come slowly up the drive. When she stopped, he didn’t run to greet her. He couldn’t. This was going to be the defining moment in their relationship and there was no way he could prepare himself for the possibility of losing her. When she got out of the Jeep, he couldn’t tell by her expression what she was feeling.

“I’m so sorry, Brad,” she said. “This was terribly unfair of me. You don’t deserve a day like today, and it breaks my heart that I have disappointed you.”

 

Brad couldn’t say anything at first. What could he say?

“Something incredible has happened in my life,” she said. “A miracle, really. It all happened so fast and I didn’t know for sure if it was going to happen at all and then suddenly it was all decided and before I knew it, I was blessed with the most wonderful gift anyone could ever ask for.”

“Slow down, Jamie. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I feel like I’m miles behind you instead of beside you which is where I want to be.”

Jamie turned around and walked back to the Jeep. For a minute he thought she was going to get back in and leave, but instead, she opened the door to the backseat. It was dark, so he couldn’t see what she was doing. When she stood she had a sleepy little boy in her arms.

Jamie and Jake

“Meet Jake,” she said. “He’s my son. I adopted him today.”

When Jamie looked at Brad, he had tears in his eyes, but it wasn’t her he was gazing at. It was little Jake.

“Can you hold Jake in one arm for a minute or two?” Brad asked.

When Jamie shifted Jake from one hip to the other, Brad got down on one knee and took her other hand.

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“Jamie Langford…will you marry me?”

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She handed Jake to Brad and began to cry. “Yes! I sure will. I’ve loved you forever and I want to be your wife.”

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“I have never been happier in my life,” Brad said. “What an awesome family we have, right Jake?”

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By this time the little boy had become more awake and he looked from Brad to Jamie and grinned from ear to ear.

“Is that my dog?” He asked. “Is that my very own dog?”

Jamie and Brad looked at each other. Their little son was about to learn that Arf was everybody’s dog.

Arf: They’re right. But don’t worry little Jake. Arf and Annie will take good care of you.

“I suppose I should tell you how I came to be Jake’s mom,” Jamie said.

“I guess,” Brad answered. “Maybe tomorrow…or the next day. Right now let’s take little Jake to the ranch and get him settled in. Tomorrow, we have a wedding to plan.”

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Guess who the best man and maid of honor are going to be?

Murdo Girl…Welcome home..or not

Everyone at the ranch was excited. It had only been a week, but it seemed like Brad had been gone forever. They were also happy they were going to see Barbie and Tom again. The two of them had been gone much longer. As a matter of fact, they hadn’t even met Clark or Jamie’s parents, yet.

The household had really grown. It included Jamie and her parents who came to live there when Mrs. Langford had a stroke. Miss Bessie had moved in after her barn had caught on fire and she decided she was too old to live alone. Steve, Dina, Katie and Dina’s mother, Helen all came there because it was important to Brad that Katie get the care she needed to regain the use of her legs. Though Steve had continued to work, Brad wanted to give the family time to heal from other issues they were confronting, and not have to worry about a home.

Clark was a sixteen year old boy who had taken Steve’s truck on a joyride. When they found him, they learned that he had virtually been thrown out of his home. He was the oldest of seven children and his father was a very unhappy man. Brad had straightened things out there, but Clark, whose real name is Butch, continued to live at the ranch. Brad wanted to encourage him to get back in school and with the help of a good tutor, it looked like Clark was going to be able to catch up with his age group, soon.

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Brad thought about all of this on the plane trip back from Ireland where he had gone to join his sister, Barbie, and brother, Tom, who had gone to be with their extremely sick mother. She passed away shortly after Brad got there.

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Brad’s thoughts turned to Jamie. He had missed her even more than he thought he would. She would be at the airport when his plane landed. The ranch would have to run without him for a while longer. He knew that Mark was perfectly capable of handling things. It was time he and Jamie concentrated on their future.

“I’m really nervous about Jamie,” Miss Bessie said. “I couldn’t sleep last night and came down to get a cup of tea around midnight. I heard Jamie come in right as I was returning to my room, and then this morning she was pulling out in her car when I came into the kitchen at around six. Surely she intends to meet Brad at the airport today.”

“There is something going on for sure,” Grandma Helen said. “But I wouldn’t worry too much. Who knows they just might have plans of their own.”

“Now that excites me…I would love nothing more than to see those two together.”

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Katie halfheartedly tried to convince her mother that she should accompany them to the airport instead of going to school.

“That’s not going to happen,” Dina said. she was trying to be stern, but, truthfully, she understood why Katie wanted to go. Brad had done so much for Katie and she was grateful. She was running and dancing, when only a year before, she was in a wheelchair.

A little before lunchtime Steve, Dina, Miss Bessie, Grandma Helen, and Clark headed for the airport. Jamie’s parents and Mark who was going to pick Katie up at school, stayed behind. Jamie hadn’t returned to the ranch before it was time to leave. They decided she must have wanted to take her own car.

But Jamie was nowhere near the airport when it was time for Brad’s plane to land. This was not the way she had hoped this day would go, but something she had waited months for, was finally going to happen.

She hoped Brad would understand. Her decision had been made and she was going through with her plans no matter how Brad took it. She sincerely hoped he would still want them to be together, but maybe it was a good thing she and Steve hadn’t finalized their agreement on the farm.

Why hadn’t she told him before this? Both her relationship with Brad and the other situation she was dealing with had developed much more quickly than she had anticipated. She thought there would be more time.

She had gotten the word late yesterday and there was so much to do. She had purchased everything she needed and more and felt fairly organized. She even got to the courthouse an hour early which gave her plenty of time to pace the floors.

Arf and Annie were sitting in their usual spot by the squirrel window when everyone left for the airport.

Arf: Is it just me, or do you sense something in the air, Annie? I don’t buy what everyone is thinking.

Annie: You mean about Jamie? Do you remember the other day when I told you I thought I knew what was going on with her? Well, If it’s what I think it is, everyone is in for a big surprise.

Arf: Is it a good surprise?

Annie: It sort of depends on who you are, but for us I think it will be a good surprise. Here they come. I wonder how much Brad knows. He doesn’t look too happy does he?

Arf: I think I’ll go find Katie and let her know everyone is back. I’m as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Annie: Here comes Clark. I sure wish I could read minds. I’m feeling unsettled, too. What we need is an adventure.

Arf: Yeah…we’re starting to get senseless.

Annie: Whatever, Arf. I can’t believe you haven’t begged me to tell you what I know about Jamie.

Arf: I only beg for bones.

Arf and Annie hadn’t left Brad’s study yet when he came in and sat down at his desk. They decided to stay put and remained very quiet while they pretended to look at squirrels outside the window.

Brad had a bewildered look on his face. This had not been the homecoming he had expected.

The phone rang and he answered it on the first ring. It had to be Jamie.

Unfortunately, Arf and Annie could only hear Brad’s side of the conversation.

“Hello…This is Brad Humboldt.”

“Jamie, where are you? Do you know how worried we have all been?”

“Okay, fine. Where would you like me to meet you?”

“I’ll be at the farm by the time you get there. Drive carefully.”

“Arf…do you want to go with me? You’ve known Jamie since you were a pup. I don’t know what this is all about, but we both might need you there.”

Murdo Girl…Missing

When Steve and Dina got to the gas station, they were relieved to see that Mark was there filling up his truck before making the trip to deliver two horses to the new owner.

Arf: I was sitting in the front seat when I saw Steve and Dina pull up. They must have figured out that I had a suspicion that Katie was in the human part of the horse trailer. I wondered if Katie was looking out of the window and could see that her mom and dad had caught us. I don’t usually get into trouble, but I was smart enough to know that my string of luck was about to come to an end. I watched as Steve and Mark talked. I was waiting for them to look inside the horse trailer, but they didn’t. When they finished talking, Steve and Dina left and Mark got back into the truck and we continued going down the road.

A couple of hours later, Steve made another stop at a roadside park.

“Are you hungry Arf? I have some sandwiches inside the refrigerator in the trailer. I’ll get them and we can grab a bite at one of those picnic tables.”

Arf: I tried to act excited when Mark let me out of the truck. I wasn’t sure what I was hoping for… that Katie was in the trailer, or that she wasn’t? In the end I decided I wanted her to be there. I wanted to know that she was safe. I still didn’t know why Dina, Steve and Mark hadn’t looked for her in the trailer.

Mark went to get the sandwiches and when he opened the door, Arf heard him say, “Well what do we have here? A little girl that looks a lot like our Katie. What would Katie be doing hiding in my horse trailer?”

“I wanted to get away from everyone and I can’t drive,” a little voice said. “May I please have a sandwich. I didn’t have breakfast and I’m pretty hungry.”

Mark handed her half a sandwich and gave Arf the other half. “I also got us some water,” he said as he handed Katie a bottle and poured some into a bowl he had brought from the truck.

“Can you tell me why you felt the need to runaway from everyone?”

“Daddy wants to move away from the ranch and Mommy doesn’t. I don’t want to go, but I don’t think Daddy will let me stay and I don’t want him to think that I love Mommy more than I love him, because I don’t. I love them the same. So what do you think Uncle Mark? What should I do?”

“I’ll tell you what I think, honey. You’re still pretty little and you have to trust your parents to make the best decisions for you. They love you and of course they want what’s best. What I’m saying is that it’s not your decision to make. Even if one or both of them leave the ranch and they decide you should leave, too, it won’t be the end of the world. Trust me…you will be just fine. You’re one strong little girl….So, when are you going to show old Uncle Mark this big performance I’ve been hearing all about?”

“How about Arf and I show you how much better we can dance now? Come on Arf. Let’s dance.”

Right there in the park, Arf and Katie danced to a tune sung by Katie. She was laughing and moving with ease and grace and Arf was right there beside her doing his part with his four left feet. When it was over, Mark had happy tears rolling down his cheeks. The little girl he was watching was a true miracle.

When they got back to the ranch that night, Katie’s attitude had changed. She apologized to her mommy and daddy and told them she would do whatever they decided she should do.

It turned out that Mark had a way of knowing that Katie was in the horse trailer before he saw Steve and Dina at the gas station. When they talked, he convinced them that it might be good for her to get away from all of the drama for the day and they had agreed.

The day also gave Steve and Dina the opportunity to do some serious talking. They were able to discuss what each of them wanted in life. They realized they couldn’t expect Katie to make or break their relationship. Steve came to realize that he had been rushing Dina and agreed to give her more time. He would still lease the farm, and though it wasn’t the ideal situation, Katie could spend part of the time at the farm and also spend time at the ranch. They truly believed they could work it out. At the very least Dina and Steve had become caring friends with a great deal of respect for each other…and they both adored their daughter.

If Jamie was willing, Steve would take over the chores at the farm when Clark started school and he would move in two months. He had big plans to buy more livestock and maybe a horse for Katie. He had given her a few riding lessons and she seemed to be a natural.

Dina was really enjoying working with Mrs. Langford who was on her way to a full recovery from her stroke.

Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen were happiest when the whole family was sitting around the table for the evening meal. Tonight, they were missing Brad who would be home in a couple of days. As they looked around they noticed there was one other empty chair.

“Has anyone heard from Jamie?” Miss Bessie asked.

Just then, the phone rang, and Miss Bessie rushed to answer it.

“Hi Miss Bessie. I called to let you know that something has come up and I won’t be home for dinner. In fact, I might be pretty late. Tell my parents not to worry.”

“Are you okay, Jamie? You haven’t been in an accident have you?”

“No, Miss Bessie. I haven’t been in an accident or anything like that. I really can’t give you more details right now. Just know that I’m fine. In fact, I’m better than fine.”

Murdo Girl…Where is Katie?

Everyone turned to look as Dina came running into the kitchen. They were all wondering why Katie wasn’t with her as the normal morning routine was for Dina to help her daughter get ready and then accompany her down to breakfast before driving her to school.

“I was hoping Katie would be here,” Dina said. “Have any of you seen her? She wasn’t in her room just now.”

Everyone shook their heads or said no and Arf went to the door. He wanted out.

“Just a minute Arf,” Dina said. I’ll go with you to look. Has Steve already left for work?” She asked. “Maybe he took her to school and didn’t bother to tell me.”

“I saw Steve leave about an hour ago,” Grandma Helen said. “Katie wasn’t with him. “Oh, dear…where could she have gone to. She can’t have gone far.”

Dina and Arf took off walking. Arf would have rather gone looking on his own as dogs look for people by sniffing and running, sniffing and running. It was much faster and works better when done alone.

“Okay, Arf,” Dina said. “You know my daughter better than anyone. Where do you think she is?”

Arf had a couple of ideas, but he wasn’t sure he should follow up on them right away. Maybe it would be good for Katie to have some time alone. He wanted to be with her while she sat and thought about things for a while, but he also wanted to know for sure that she was safe, so he took Dina to the first place he thought she might be. Their secret spot under the big tree by the river where they had spent endless hours working together on Katie’s therapy.

Katie wasn’t there.

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Jamie was running late, but not for work. She didn’t have to be there until one o’clock.  There was another place she had promised to be this morning, and the closer she got, the more excited she became.

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Mark, the hired hand, was loading up two horses to take to a buyer. He had planned to stop at the house and have breakfast, but instead grabbed a bite to eat and some coffee at the bunkhouse. He was deep in thought as he pulled out. Just as he got to the main gate, he saw Arf standing there barking at him.

When he stopped to open the gate, he left his truck door open and Arf jumped in.

“Do you want to go with me, Arf?” Without looking back, Mark shut the truck door, pulled through and jumped out again to close the gate. He didn’t see Dina running down the hill toward him until the last minute. He pointed to Arf to let her know he was taking him with him. Arf loved to go with Mark to deliver horses and it was something he did quite often.

aa6e88e84e1f403a9e33ce5abc313c5d_c0x47-1483x636 (1)What Mark didn’t know was that he was transporting a stowaway. Arf didn’t know for sure, but he was fairly certain his Katie was in the front of the horse trailer.

Arf: If Katie is in the human sleeping part of the horse trailer, I’ll be in trouble for not telling everyone I thought she was hiding there. If she isn’t, then I’ll be in trouble for leaving without finding her. He decided to continue to follow his instincts, right or wrong.

Dina stood there watching Mark and Arf leave and she was totally confused. Just as she was about to turn around to walk back up the hill, she saw Steve pull up to the gate. She walked toward him as he pulled through and then got out to close it. When he saw her, he also had a look of confusion on his face. When Dina told him the whole story, he said to jump in and they would try to catch up with Mark and Arf. Steve was hoping Mark would stop at the usual place to gas up before leaving town.

20200731_0740295904896885367494944.jpg(I should be on track for a more lengthy story tomorrow. Like some of the people who live at the ranch, life gets busy and time gets away from me.

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Murdo Girl…Information gathering

There was both tension and excitement in the air at the Humboldt Horse Ranch. Brad would be home in three more days and Barbie and Tom were coming back, too. Both of them were going to stay at the ranch through the weekend, but Tom had to get back to work the following week. Barbie intended to stay until she was able to hire another woman to help her at home. She loved her little house and she knew it well which was a big advantage since she had been blinded by the fire twenty years before.

Brad had gotten to Ireland in time to look his mother in the eyes and tell her he loved her. He held her hand for two days while she slipped in and out of consciousness. Each time she woke up, she smiled at each of her three children. They would be forever grateful for that last bit of time with her. Though Barbie couldn’t see her smile, she could feel her mother squeeze her hand.

On the third day, Mrs. Humboldt slipped away peacefully.

Arf and Annie were having the early morning meeting they had planned by the squirrel window.

Annie: How did Katie do last night? I was worried about the poor little thing.

Arf: I thought she would be all teary-eyed  and boo hooing, but she was more mad than anything. She kept saying she didn’t care what her parents did, she was going to stay at the ranch. She’s nine now, and sometimes she acts more like a grown-up than the grown-ups around here.

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Annie: Well, the poor thing has been through a lot. She has come such a long way. You have both worked hard to get her there. I’m proud of you, Arf…Arf? Are you listening to me? Oh, I see. There’s a squirrel out there. Let’s watch him for a while and then we can decide what we can do about Dina and Steve. The tension between them is making me crazy. I whined in my sleep all night. Poor Clark kept asking me what was wrong.

Arf: There is something going on with Jamie, too. I sure wish Steve had taken me with him when he went to the farm to talk to her, yesterday. There are just too many humans to keep track of around here. I can’t even remember the last time someone threw a frisbee to me.

Arf and Annie eventually brainstormed and came up with an idea. They decided to concentrate on Steve and Dina, and wait until Brad got home to investigate that situation.

The squirrel finally went up into the tree and was hard to see, so they went to the kitchen to eat their breakfast and begin putting their plan into action.

Grandma Helen and Miss Bessie were both there and as luck would have it, they were discussing Steve and Dina.

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“Considering how quiet they were at supper last night, I take it there are still some issues to be worked out between Dina and Steve.” Miss Bessie was a master at getting information out of people.

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“I haven’t talked to Dina since last night, but as of then, she was leaning towards telling Steve she wanted to continue living at the ranch for a while. She realizes she has no hope of keeping Katie here full time. Steve has every right to take her with him and to be honest, he also has some good arguments as to why the move closer to town would be good for her. I’ve lived with that child ever since she was a baby. My life won’t be the same without being able to see her every day.” Helen took out her hankie and dabbed her eyes. “I sure am grateful for your friendship, Miss Bessie. I have a feeling this won’t be easy for anyone concerned.”

Dina went to Katie’s room to help her get ready for school. She anticipated her daughter would still be upset and she had prepared herself for that, but she hadn’t prepared herself for what happened next.

Katie was not in her room, in fact, she was nowhere to be found. Arf was in the kitchen. Because of his meeting with Annie, he hadn’t been in Katie’s room when she woke up.

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Jamie woke up late and was in her room at the ranch rushing to get ready for work when her mother knocked on the door. Jamie invited her in, but continued to get ready.

“Is everything okay, honey?” Her mother  asked. “You seem to have something on your mind.”

“Everything is fine, Mother. I’m struggling with a big decision, but I have to wait for Brad to get home to make it. Please don’t worry. It’s actually something you might approve of.”

“Well, you’ve been pretty mysterious about where you’ve been spending your time when you’re not at work. Mothers notice things like that, you know.”

“Yes, I know, Mom, and your intuitions have never been wrong as far as I know. You have been such a wonderful mother. Now give me a hug. I’ve got to get to work.”

 

 

 

 

 

Murdo Girl…Let’s work it out

It’s been a busy few days, but I’ve finally caught up to Arf and Annie.

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The next day, Katie and Clark were ready to start rehearsing early. Katie didn’t have school due to teacher’s meetings and Jamie was off so she wanted to do some of the chores around the farm. Clark would be starting school next week and she was going to have to get used to doing more. That is unless she decided to lease the farm out.

“I’m so proud of you both and of course Arf and Annie,” Mrs. Langford said when they were taking one of their breaks. “You two have become so much more confident in your abilities. All that’s left is a little fine tuning and you’re ready to put on a performance that will knock everyone’s socks off.”

“I’m a little nervous,” Katie said, “But I’m excited, too. Brad said that he was going to have a surprise for us and it’s about a special place for us to put on our show.”

“Well, I hope when you leave, you’ll still be able to come here often. Do you know when you’ll be moving, Katie?” Mr. Langford asked.

“What do you mean Mr. Langford?” I’m never moving from here.”

Mr. Langford realized that he may have given Katie some news that she hadn’t heard before.

“Oh,” he said. “I think I must be mistaken about that, dear Katie. “I probably dreamed I heard something when I didn’t.”

Arf: Uh Oh, maybe that’s what my dog senses were telling me. Well, if Katie moves, I move. I won’t make any bones about it, either. I can see Annie over by Clark. I’ve got to find out if she knows where I’m moving to.

Annie: Why haven’t I heard anything about this? I’m usually the first one to sense something is wrong or different and then I go in pursuit of finding out what it is. I hope I’m not losing my human sense. Here comes Arf. Maybe he knows something.

“Mommy,” Katie asked Dina when she came to get her from rehearsal. “I put out of my mind that you and daddy were talking about moving. At least Daddy was. I was hoping you would both forget about that stupid idea. I thought we were all happy here.”

“Nothing is decided honey. We’re just talking about different possibilities. Don’t worry too much, okay?”

Katie obviously didn’t take Dina’s words to heart.

“Mommy, if daddy finds a new place for us to live, will you for sure come too?”

Dina wasn’t ready for that question.

“Whatever you and Daddy do,” Katie blurted out. “I’ve decided I’m staying right here. Even if you both leave. I’m staying here.”

With that, Katie ran to find her Grandma Helen. It occurred to Dina that she had never seen her daughter run that fast before.

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Arf: I was right behind my Katie. I knew she was upset. She has so many humans here at the ranch who love her and are trying so hard to help her get better. I love all these people too, but I will stick with Katie no matter what.

Jamie was enjoying spending time at the farm. She hadn’t done the chores in a long time and she hadn’t realized how much she missed it. She was bringing a bucket of milk from the barn to the house when she saw Steve drive up.

“Here Jamie. Let me carry that for you. I was hoping you would have a few minutes to talk this morning.”

“Sure Steve. I’m not going to pretend I don’t know what you want to discuss with me,” Jamie said as she handed the heavy bucket over to him. “Let’s go inside and make a cup of coffee. We can bring it out to the porch and enjoy the morning while we’re talking.”

When they got their coffee and had engaged in some small talk, Steve broached the subject he so wanted to talk about.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Jamie. I have spent the last nine years now, doing everything I could to help my daughter. Every decision I have made has been with her well being in mind. I’ve made some good ones and a few bad ones, but my devotion to her has never wavered.”

“I know, Steve. No one could possibly question that. I get the feeling the decision you’re trying to make now is a tough one. I hope you are considering all aspects of it. You’re taking a pretty big risk. Don’t do it without thinking of what the consequences might be.”

“Believe me I’ve thought of nothing else. I am going to find a place for my family to live independently. The time at the ranch has been the answer to my prayers, but it was never intended to be a permanent situation. Katie is doing so well. She’s back in school and beginning to make some friends her age. She’s even getting involved in different school activities. I want to encourage that by moving closer to town and her school. She will have her own home to bring friends to and her life will be more like theirs. I think that’s important.”

“You haven’t mentioned Dina in all of this,” Jamie said. “How does she feel about moving?”

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“She doesn’t appear to know how she feels. I have to do this no matter what Dina decides.”

“Are you absolutely sure the whole point of this ultimatum isn’t to force her to make a commitment?”

“I want Dina to commit to something. Katie and I need to know if she’s going to stick around for good this time. We’ve waited a long time. A very long time.”

“I have a similar decision to make,” Jamie said. “There is no hurry, Steve, so please take your time. I think in fairness to Dina, you need to let her get used to the idea. She hasn’t done anything but dote on Katie ever since she came back into your lives. But if you do decide to move, you can lease the farm. It would help me if I didn’t have to worry about the place. It has never really worked out for me to own it. Maybe some day we can work out something and you can buy it from me.”

” Thank you, Jamie,” Steve said as he got up to take is coffee cup back into the kitchen. “I’ll take your advice, but I already know what my decision will be. This farm is the perfect solution. I have to believe that.”

That night Arf and Annie got together at the squirrel window in Brad’s study.

(Full disclosure. This is not Arf and Annie, but an example of a dog’s squirrel angst.)

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Arf: Katie might be moving and I will go with her. I’ll make them take me with them. She will be more upset than Steve and Dina realize and she’ll need me. It’s such a shame. You and I work so well together.

Annie: You’re right. You will have to go with her, but didn’t you say she told her mother she wasn’t leaving the ranch? Do you think there’s a possibility Steve will be leaving alone?

Arf: I hadn’t even thought about that. Another defining moment for this family coming right up. We have to do something, Annie. That family can’t split up no matter what.

Annie: You’re right. We have to go to Katie and Clark now, but let’s think about this and meet back here in the morning. Maybe there will be a few squirrels to watch, too.

Murdo Girl…Smiles and tears

Brad was able to catch a flight leaving for Ireland the next morning. He was dubious about going, but Jamie convinced him that Mark and Clark, with the help of Arf, could handle the ranch for a week. Jamie was a good horsewoman so she could help in case of an emergency.

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When Brad went to pack, Jamie decided to go out to the garden for a few minutes and enjoy the beautiful evening. She had only been there a few minutes when Grandma Helen joined her.

“Are you okay, Grandma Helen? You look like you’re upset.”

“Oh it’s nothing I should bother you with.”

Grandma Helen sat down in one of the chairs and played with her wadded up hankie. It was obvious she had been crying. Jamie sat in one of the other chairs close by.

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“I won’t press you, but I want you to know I’m a good listener, though I can’t promise you any answers,” Jamie offered.

“Well okay then. I can’t keep this to myself any longer. It’s far too upsetting to me and I’m getting too old to be upset all the time.”

“Let me help you get started,” Jamie said. “Does this have anything to do with Dina and Steve?”

“It does, Jamie, so of course it also involves our Katie. Steve wants to move away from the ranch and he’s upset that Dina won’t commit to moving with him. Not only that, he is assuming that Katie will go with him either way.”

“I overheard them talking about leasing my farm. Is that what you understand the problem to be?”

“Yes… and Dina doesn’t know what to do. She’s my daughter, Jamie and I don’t know how to help her. I told her to consider the fact that Steve is the breadwinner and he should have a say in where the family lives.”

Jamie wondered if Dina would agree to move and if she did, would it only be because of Katie? Steve had custody of her and there was no doubt he planned to take her with him.

“Let me give you a little advise, Helen. I think you’re going to have to let Steve and Dina work this out for themselves. I’ll try to follow my own advise and I think Brad will stay out of it, too.”

The next morning after Brad left for the airport, Jamie waited for Miss Bessie to get ready to go to her job at the General Store. She rode with Jamie on the days she worked.

On the way into town, Miss Bessie was unusually quiet.

“Is everything okay, Miss Bessie? You seem awfully preoccupied.”

“I’ve decided to quit my job. I’m going to talk to Dina’s sister, today.”

“That surprises me. I thought you enjoyed seeing all of the town ladies.”

“Well, I did at first, but they’ve been coming on my days off, so I’m not getting any juicy gos…uh news. Remember that day last week when I went in on Wednesday instead of Thursday? Well, four of those ladies came in that day, and boy were they surprised to see me. I guess they think I tell other people what I hear them say. Truth be known, I can’t always remember if it’s a secret or not. Anyway, It’s boring. I’d rather keep company with Helen at home. I feel like I’m needed there.”

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Later that night….

Annie’s thoughts: Clark is upset tonight, so he came up to his room early. I don’t really like to go to bed until later, but I thought I should keep Clark company.

“I have a little over a week before I have to start school, Annie. I don’t know if I can go through with it. The tutor Brad got me has helped a lot, but that’s just one person, not a whole classroom. I love singing and dancing, but I’m not sure I can perform in front of a bunch of people. What if I make a real fool of myself?

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Annie laid down by the bed and Clark took his guitar out of the case to play his nightly song. While she was waiting, she noticed something under the bed. It looked like a letter. She couldn’t reach it, so she went to Clark and eventually got him to come and look under the bed. She was right. It was an envelope. 

“I wonder where this came from,” Clark said as he looked the letter over. “I guess there’s only one way to find out. I don’t see a name on the envelope so I hope it’s for me.”

Inside was a loving letter from his mother.

Dear Butch,

I put this in with your music books hoping you would find it at the right time. I know you must be nervous about going to a new school. You have always told yourself you’re not smart enough to learn. Well, I’m here to tell you that you are plenty smart. I know your daddy has told you different, but don’t you believe it. Hear me? Remember son, you don’t have to be perfect, you only have to try your best. The good Lord says to be anxious about nothing, so do what the Lord says. Keep on moving and walk right through that fear you’re feeling. That’s what you call courage.

Love and blessings,

Mamma

Annie’s thoughts: Clark put his guitar away without even playing a song. He just hung on to that letter. He had tears in his eyes, but he was smiling big when he fell asleep.

Down the hall Arf was watching over his favorite and most important human. She is sleeping peacefully.

Arf’s thoughts: I have a feeling that something is about to change and I’m not going to be happy about it.

Jamie was in Brad’s study. She was wondering what she should say if Steve approached her about leasing the farm.

She had a lot to think about. Life changing decisions were never easy to make.