Doctor Murphy told them to come back at noon the next day and that’s what they did. Clark and Brad could have gotten a motel room, but Clark wanted to see his grandpa’s cabin. They used some quilts to make palettes on the floor and everyone slept just fine.
The next day, when they got back to the hospital, they learned that the doctor was in with Mr. Sanders and would be out to see them, shortly.
“I really want to see my grandpa,” Clark said. “But I’m nervous. Do I have to be there when the doctor tells him he’s blind?”
“It’s entirely up to you, son.” Brad didn’t want to force the boy to do anything he wasn’t comfortable with.
“I guess since I’m the only one here he knows, I should be there, but you two and the doctor will have to remember to call me Butch.”
When the doctor came to get them he said he wanted to say a few words to them first, so they all sat back down to listen.
“He knows about his blindness. Last night, a nurse was changing the bandages on his eyes and inadvertently explained that even though there was no longer a need, she had been instructed to keep his eyes bandaged until further notice.”
“What did he say?” Clark asked.
“He didn’t say anything at first, but when she started to put the bandages back on, he told the nurse he did not want them on if they weren’t needed. Then he opened his eyes and of course he only saw darkness. He asked the nurse to please leave him alone. He assured her he was fine, so she left his room. This morning when I went in to see him, he was quite cheerful. He never once mentioned his blindness. He only said he wished to go home and asked if he could please call one of the guys who played in the band with him and ask him to take him to his cabin. I told him all of you were here and also that Biff had been taken care of the whole time he had been unconscious. He seemed a little confused and said he didn’t have a grandson named Clark.”
“We forgot to tell you that Miss Bessie changed my name,” Clark said. “Can we go see him now?”
The doctor, followed by Clark, Brad and Mark went to Mr. Sanders’ room. He was awake and waiting for them. Clark was the first to speak.
“Grandpa, it’s me, Butch. I can’t believe I’m actually here with you. My dad told me you were dead. I’m so happy you’re alive.”
“Butch? Is it really you?” Grandpa John reached out to touch his grandson. The tears coming from the eyes that couldn’t see, were running down his cheeks. “I might not ever see your face again, but your voice is heaven sent. I can almost hear you singing. Can you stay for a while? I don’t even know where you live?”
“Mr. Sanders,” Brad said. “I’m Clark’s, I mean Butch’s legal guardian. He lives with my family and me on a huge ranch almost seven hundred miles from here. There is plenty of room and we would like for you to come and stay with us. That way you can spend time with your grandson while you adjust to not being able to see.”
Mr. Sanders sat up in his bed and swung his legs over to the side so that he was facing his visitors.
“I thank you for your offer, Sir, but I can’t leave my home. My life is here and I will find a way to manage. What happened was an accident. Biff didn’t want to go fishing and I should have listened to him. Anyway, I have to move on, now. I would like to spend a few days with my grandson, though. Can you stay for a while, Butch?
Mark decided now was the time to talk to Brad and Clark about his idea. “Would you please excuse us for a moment Mr. Sanders? There is something I need to discuss with these two. It won’t take long.”
“What is this about?” Brad asked when they all got out into the hall.
“It doesn’t sound to me like Mr. Sanders is even going to consider leaving his cabin on the mountain,” Mark explained. “I have to say, even if I couldn’t see, I would want to be in a place just like it. He knows his way around there. It’s his home and the surroundings are peaceful. There is something else. We could let him have Arf for a while. That dog has a knack for knowing the right thing to do. He will help Mr. Sanders learn to help himself in all situations. Arf can do it. We all know he can.”
“I don’t think anyone who knows that dog would question that, but what about transportation? It’s a long way up there and Mr. Sanders will need supplies now and then and there is no phone. Also, Arf will eventually have to come home.” Brad wasn’t totally convinced this was the right thing to do.
“Can we hire someone to look in on him? He does have those musician friends. Maybe one of them could do it.”
“We know that Grandpa doesn’t have a phone, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to have one. Maybe he just figured it was too expensive to install. We should check on that. I think we should try to make it possible for Grandpa to stay here. I can drive now. I’ll spend time with him on long weekends and school vacations.”
“Okay,” Brad agreed. “We’ll check all of this out and make the plans we need to. Since tomorrow is Friday, you and I can stay here until very early Sunday morning. Mark…would you be willing to stay a few days beyond that just to make sure everything is going okay?”
“Sure, you go talk to the doctor to see when Mr. Sanders can get sprung. Clark and I will go talk this through with the man in charge.”
The next day, they took Clark’s Grandpa John back to his cabin in the woods. Arf sensed right away that he had a job to do, and it would take some time.
Arf would stay by Mr. Sanders’ side and guide him everywhere he needed to go. He would make a different sound when he was near the refrigerator than when he was by a chair or the table and wait while Mr. Sanders counted the steps until he automatically knew how far away and in what direction things were. He would make sure his charge had gloves and large tongs when he added wood to the fire in the stove. They would practice this over and over again until Mr. Sanders was able to sense when more wood was needed and how much was enough. The wood stove was the most critical thing to master and they both knew it.
On Saturday night, Grandpa John asked Arf to some to his side and told him to lead him as well as Clark, Mark, and Brad to the shed in the woods behind the cabin. Grandpa had decided he wanted to try and remember to call the grandson whom he had called Butch all his life…Clark. Like Miss Bessie, he thought it fit him better.
Through all of this, Biff was totally content. He was secretly happy that Arf was the one doing all the heavy lifting.
“I want to show you all my treasures,” Grandpa John said. “This is what I’ve been doing for the past six years, Clark. Without my sight, I won’t be able to finish it. Its a daunting project. I want you to know that I don’t feel in any way resentful. I think this is why God brought you back to me. I have hope that when you come for visits, we can complete this together.”
Grandpa John found the key on his own and handed it to Clark to unlock the padlock to the shed. Then he opened the doors wide. Everyone watching gasped in amazement.
Now it was Clark’s turn to feel the tears running down his cheeks.