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.”

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***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!”

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***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.

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“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

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WELCOME TO MURDO

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.

GET OFF OF MY FLOOR, I JUST CLEANED IT!!

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I’m bringing homemade popcorn
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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 CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS

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.

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(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.

BARNEY’S TEAM

MURDO GIRL CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS

MURDO GIRL’S CAMPAIGN SLOGAN

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 TEAM

THE COYOTE PARADE ENTRANTS

The Coyote Bystanders

THE LOAN WOLF PARADE ENTRANTS

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.

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***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.

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“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.

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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!”

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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.

WWI

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.

WWII

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.

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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.

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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.

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Vietnam War

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Williams

“The Man at the Wall”

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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.”

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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.”

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“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.

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“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.

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***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.

Murdo Girl…All the right reasons

“Hello Thomas. This is your Aunt Mildred. I just want to let you know that a young lady by the name of Jamie White was here looking for you. She said she’s a friend of Brad’s. I threw her off the trail a little to buy you some time. Please call us sometime dear. It’s the least you could do.”

“Good old Aunt Mildred,” Tom said to the phone as he put it down. “Always trying to put her own spin on things.”

Tom already knew that someone named Jamie was looking for him. He’d gotten three messages from her. “I suppose I should give her a call. It’s the least I could do.” Tom grinned to himself as he reached into his shirt pocket for the number.

Luckily, Jamie was at the farm which is the number she had left in her messages to Tom.

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“Hello, this is Tom Humbolt. I’m returning a call from a Miss Jamie White.”

“Yes…that’s me. It’s so good of you to call me back.”

“I’ve been told you’re a friend of Brad’s. Is he all right?”

“Oh, yes…he’s fine. I know you must be terribly busy, Tom, but I was hoping we could meet in person.” Jamie was crossing her fingers and hoping that he would say yes.

“I have to report at noon tomorrow, so you would have to come here,” he said. “Where do you live?”

“I’m about two hours away. I can be there around 8:00 tomorrow morning.”

“Okay…there is a little cafe on the corner of 4th and Grove. It’s called Harvey’s. I’ll be there at 8:00. I’m assuming you aren’t bringing anyone with you.”

“No Tom…It’s just me coming. Thank you for agreeing to meet. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Jamie barely slept. She was nervous about how her conversation with Tom would go and also feeling a little guilty because she was involving herself in Brad’s life without his knowledge. She didn’t have to be at the clinic the next day, so no worries there.

***Katie and I have been working really hard. We exercise every day and practice standing for longer and longer periods of time. I knew it was time for her to begin taking steps, but I didn’t want to rush her.

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“We only have one more week before I have my check-up at the research clinic,” Katie told Arf. “I want to be able to take six steps by then.”

***I barked an okay, but I didn’t understand what she meant. I know what six is… one, two, three, four, five, six. We do a lot of exercises to ten, but I didn’t know why she wanted to take six steps.

“I’ll tell you later why I have to…I mean have to take six steps before I go back to the hospital. I remember how we were trained to take steps. Do you Arf?”

***Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark, Bark…I did remember and there was no time like now to get started. We were at our usual flat spot away from the house and overlooking the garden. This time I got two walking sticks out of the pocket in the back of her chair and gave them to her. I also got two tennis balls  and worked to get them on the bottom of each stick. They’re to keep Katie from slipping if we hit a bad spot.

“Okay Arf. I will stand up and look both directions for a minute and then look forward and watch you. You will be walking backwards in front of me.”

***I walk backwards so that Katie keeps an even pace and doesn’t hurry. Her body might try to go faster than her feet and that wouldn’t be good. When she says she’s ready, I will put my paw up so she knows that I am too.

“We’ll go one step and then stand,” Katie said, “and then another step and stand, and then we’ll go another step…

***Bark, Bark

“Okay bossy Arf. We’ll only go two steps.”

Katie stood easily. She was strong. She and Arf had practiced her standing routine many times by now and Katie had become more confidant.

She had both walking sticks in position, Arf was carefully watching her from three feet ahead of her. 

At first she didn’t move and Arf began to think her fear had returned. If it looked like she might falter, he was ready.

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Then she did it! She raised her right foot, and still looking directly at Arf, She stepped ahead exactly the right distance. She then brought her other foot forward and stood watching Arf. He could tell she was really concentrating and trying to remember all she had learned. 

Once she was in position again, she repeated the same sequence for the next step. When she had successfully walked forward two steps, Arf could see her knees begin to shake and he quickly pushed the wheelchair so that it was directly behind her. Arf thought she would fall into it, but she didn’t. She slowly lowered herself down onto the seat. Arf took each walking stick and with his paws and mouth, he folded each one and put them back into the pocket. He made sure to put the tennis balls back, too.

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It wasn’t until they were on their way back to the house that Katie began to sob. She cried so hard, Arf was afraid she wouldn’t be able to breathe. She wrapped her arms around her friend and sobbed some more. Finally, she wipped her tears away and replaced them with a huge smile.

“We did it Arf,” she said. “I walked…and you taught me how. Lets go to the garden for a few minutes, Okay? I don’t want anyone to see that I’ve been crying,”

***Bark!!!

Back at the house, Grandma Helen and Miss Bessie were out on the porch in their rocking chairs and enjoying the beautiful day.

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“Does it seem to you that Arf and Katie have been gone an awfully long time?” Miss Bessie asked.

“I was just thinking the same thing, Bessie. It’s a good thing we trust Arf. We don’t even know where they go off to. Do you think Arf is really going to be able to help Katie? I pray every night that I see a change in my granddaughter, but she doesn’t seem to want to get out of that wheelchair.”

Dina had brought a glass of ice tea out to the porch and was about to join Miss Bessie and Helen.

“I agree Helen. I’ve been told she doesn’t think she deserves to walk. I have to find a way to convince her that I didn’t leave because I was told she would never be able to walk. How do you make a child understand that sometimes adults do terrible things for what they think are the right reasons. I thought I was doing it because I loved Jack and my baby so much?”

“Indeed,” Helen said. “Indeed.” Then reached up and took her daughters hand in hers.

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Murdo Girl…Things aren’t as they seem

Things at the ranch seemed to be settling down…. Or were they? Using the methods she and Arf had learned at the research hospital, Katie was able to stand up…Only she didn’t want to tell anyone, yet. Jamie had found Brad’s brother, Tom…and she didn’t want to tell anyone, yet. With all this secrecy going on, to most in the household, things seemed to be up in the air, Which prompted Miss Bessie to stir things up a little.

“Does it seem strange to you that everyone but Jamie, who is still family to us of course, now live at the ranch?” Grandma Helen asked as she and Miss Bessie were having their usual early morning coffee in the kitchen.

“I like it,” Miss B. said. “I especially love that Dina is here and it appears she plans to stay. It must be wonderful for you to have your daughter close by.”

“I must be honest. I really don’t know how I feel about Dina. Are we all supposed to forgive her just like that? She has said very little to anyone but Steve and Katie and I don’t think either of them are that sure of her motives,” Helen said as she got up to pour another cup of coffee.

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“You’re having three cups of coffee this morning, Helen? You’ll be a bundle of nerves by noon, and you’ll be cranky, too. You know how cranky you get.”

“I remember how cranky she gets when she has too much coffee,” Dina said as she walked into the kitchen. “Do you ladies mind if I join you?”

Though she really hated to leave, Miss Bessie decided it would be the right thing to do to let Helen and her daughter have some time alone.

“I believe I’ll take my leave and let you two visit,” she said. “I’m going to take my sketching pad and go out on the porch this morning and try to catch the morning dew sparkle as the sun rises over the hill.”

“I’ll join you in a bit,” Grandma Helen said. “I’ll catch the sun and the garden flowers in all of their glory. Like they look after the sun sunrises.”

Dina, suppressing a grin, poured herself a cup of coffee and joined Grandma Helen at the table. The two ladies continued their lightly veiled squabble a bit before Miss Bessie finally left.

“I tell you,” Helen said. “That old woman drives me to distraction sometimes. How are you settling in Dina and if I may be blunt, how long do you plan to stay?”

“Those are two very different questions,” Dina answered. “I feel my being here makes all of you feel uncomfortable and I can certainly understand that, but I also realize everyone needs time. It doesn’t matter anyway because my relationship with Katie is all that matters. I hope she will learn to accept that I am her mother and I’m not going anywhere. I’ve given my notice at my job and because I have so much vacation time, I won’t be going back. I’ve also put my little house on the market. I’m going to ask Brad if he will allow me to continue to stay at the ranch. I’ll insist on paying rent, of course. Do you have any other questions, Mother? I would be happy to answer them.”

“Just one,” Helen said as she got up to leave. “I thought we were close, Dina. I thought we had the kind of relationship that you want to build with Katie. Why couldn’t you tell me you were so sick and why didn’t I sense it? I guess that’s two questions isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Dina answered. “And again, they require two very different answers.”

*****************

Brad was saddling up his horse when he saw Jamie’s Jeep coming up the drive. For some reason, seeing her brought a smile to his face. When she got out of the Jeep and started walking over to him, he noticed she was smiling, too. She was someone very special he thought. She was easy to be around and had the kind of integrity many people don’t posses. she wasn’t the kind to keep secrets and Brad liked that in a person.

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“What brings you here this morning?” He asked. Have you been able to find anything out about Tom’s whereabouts?”

“I’m on my way to the clinic and I just had the urge to stop by and say hello…and no, I haven’t been able to locate him, yet. I’m sure something will turn up soon.”

***Jamie was holding a brand new frisbee and I wanted to run and get it from her so bad. I was down to my last good frisbee. I didn’t want to interrupt. I liked seeing Brad and Jamie smiling at each other, so I forced myself to stay put.

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“Arf, here’s a new frisbee for you. I was able to find your favorite color,” Jamie said as she knelt down to ruffle the hair on Arf’s head. “If it’s okay with Brad, you can come to the clinic with me this morning. Annie will be there so it’s up to you if you want to bring your brand new frisbee. I know you work with Katie every day so I’ll have you back by noon.”

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Murdo Girl…Back in the day

My brother, Billy sent me an article and I challenged myself to write a poem about it for the blog. It’s all about idioms.

Back in the day…..

June became the month for weddings and here’s the reason why. Folks took their yearly baths in May and smelled bad by July.

To extend the bride’s fresh scent she carried a bouquet. Thus began the custom most brides follow still today.

When things got oh so rank and May finally came around. They all took a bath, first the oldest then on down.

By the time the youngest got to bathe be it son or daughter. You just might lose the baby in the dirty old bath water.

Hence it’s said today though it’s pretty sad. When you throw something away, don’t throw the good out with the bad.

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Lead cups were used to drink either ale or whiskey. The combination made the imbibers go way beyond being tipsy

If someone found them on the street, they thought they must be dead, but there was a chance they’d just passed out instead.

The family laid them out on the table for two days and sat around and ate and drank resulting in a phrase.

The afflicted might be dead or survive with a headache. The party that the family had was called “holding a wake.”

Once upon a time, bread was divided up by status. Workers ate the bottom, always burnt but sometimes gratis.

The family saved the top and ate the middle, because they knew they must. The guests ate the top and were called the “upper crust.”

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The wealthy had something other than dirt make up their floor. The poor had only dirt, hence they were called, “dirt poor.”

In old small villages folks ran out of room to bury the dead. They dug up the coffins and took the bones to the bone-house instead.

They reused the graves where the bodies of the bones had been lying and what they saw was simply horrifying.

They found scratch marks on the inside in one of twenty-five. They realized they had been burying people still alive.

A string was tied to the corps’ wrist, led through the coffin and tied to a bell. If the bell rang that night they knew all was not well.

Someone had to stay in the graveyard listening for the bell to ring. You never could tell when some poor soul would pull that bell ringing string.

It was a long night if you get my drift. That’s why they called it the “graveyard shift.”

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Now I’ll sit back and relax. I’ve written about the whole ball of wax.

Murdo Girl…Surprises

Jamie didn’t know what to do. She had just learned from Brad’s aunt that his younger brother, Tom, is an aerial firefighter.

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Mrs. Jones seemed to be very proud of the nephew she and her husband had raised from the age of twelve. Yet, the letters found in the attic sounded as if when Tom confessed to Mr. and Mrs. Jones that it was him who started the fire and not Brad, they had begun to resent Tom and maybe even mistreated him.

“Mistreat Tom?” Mrs. Jones said in disbelief. “Of course we didn’t mistreat him. It was Tom’s own guilt that drove him away from us. He began to misbehave and we laid down some rigid rules. It could have partially been a teenager’s rebellion, I suppose.” Mrs. Jones said as if the possibility had just occurred to her.

Jamie couldn’t decide what she should do with the information. Should she tell Brad and let him pursue a relationship with his brother, or should she go talk with Tom, first?

She finally decided she would talk with Tom before saying anything to Brad. Her intuition told her that it was not going to be easy for the brothers to rebuild a relationship. Brad had told everyone that he was the one who started the fire that had killed their parents and sister, and convinced Tom it would be better that way. Brad blamed himself for causing Tom the pain of living a lie. Who knows how Tom felt about Brad? It appeared that he finally couldn’t stand it any longer and told his aunt and uncle the truth. That couldn’t have been easy.

Because of Tom’s schedule, Jamie realized it could be a while before she would be able arrange a meeting with him.

**************************

With Arf’s help, Katie got stronger every day. He was her best friend and the source of her motivation. He inspired her and made her believe that she could learn to walk.

Within a week of getting home from the hospital, Katie began to work with Arf. She tried hard to be patient. They had to start from the beginning and exercise hard and faithfully to build up Katie’s strength and stamina. Arf remembered all of the signals and commands. He also remembered how to prompt Katie and when to push her to do more and when to let her rest.

Katie insisted the two of them work alone and everyone in the household respected her wishes. She was scheduled to be checked for progress in six weeks. All they could do was pray and be supportive in other ways.

Arf really liked the pretty lady. He learned her name was Dina. She was sad at first, but as she settled in, some of the sadness seemed to go away.

Steve had gone back to work. He acted a lot happier, too. Maybe because Dina was there or maybe he was happy to be working again.

Dina was constantly keeping herself in check. She didn’t want to put any pressure on her daughter, who didn’t seem ready to accept that she was her mommy, so she tried to show her how much she cared in other, subtle ways. Dina realized the main thing she had to do in order to build trust was to stay at the ranch no matter how she felt about living there. If she left, Katie would never be convinced her mother wanted to be involved in her life, forever.

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***********************

“Arf,…I’m really getting stronger aren’t I?” Katie asked one day when they were outside enjoying a picnic lunch that Miss Bessie had prepared for them.

***I was really interested in what was in the basket. Had Miss B remembered to pack a good bone? I could smell tuna fish sandwiches but I don’t like tuna fish.

Katie was sitting in her wheelchair enjoying the cool breeze. She was leaning forward to look in the basket to see if she could find a bone for me, when I sensed something. I picked the basket up by it’s handle and moved it to a flat spot a few feet from where we were. Then I pushed Katie’s chair over by the basket. My next move was to get the folding stick we always keep in the back pocket of the chair. When I brought it to Katie and then sat down directly in front of her, she shook her head.

“No, Arf, I can’t.” she said. I’m too afraid.”

**I didn’t move. Neither of us moved for a minute or two and then not knowing what else to do, I reached into the basket and came out with a little package of cookies.

I was hoping Katie would understand that she could have a treat if she just tried to stand.  She was right. She was getting stronger all the time. She had the walking stick to support one side and she knew that I would raise up and sit on my back legs. She could steady her other side by holding onto me. If she started to fall, she could put her arms around my neck and I would gently let her down into her chair. There was no way she could get hurt even if she slid to the ground.

Katie could do this, and we both knew it. She got a determined look on her face and asked, “Are you ready, Arf?”

I lifted my paw which was the signal that I was ready. Katie used the strength of her arms and with one hand she held onto the walking stick. She placed her other hand on my head. Looking straight ahead, she slowly began to raise herself up out of her wheelchair.

Katie could feel new strength in her legs. She was standing. She had stood once before, months ago, but she was weak then and hadn’t trained with Arf. She had immediately fallen back into the wheelchair.

This time was different. She lifted herself up with ease and stood with only a mild amount of shakiness. She wanted to stay there forever looking over the garden and the flowers. It seemed she could see so much farther than when she was sitting in the chair.

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***I was so proud of my Katie. If dogs cried, I would have cried. When I knew the time was up, I gave the signal for her to lower herself back into the wheelchair.

“You can’t tell anyone, Arf,” Katie begged. “Not until I can walk, but I stood for a very long time didn’t I? Now reach into the basket and give me those cookies. I know for sure there’s a good bone in there, too.”

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