Murdo Girl…Just one pretty flower

Since it’s getting close to Memorial day, I decided to post the poem I wrote honoring the women who gave their lives for our Country…

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Just one pretty flower

by Mary Francis McNinch

“Put a flower on my grave.” That’s all she asked of me.

“Just one pretty flower that I’ll be sure to see.”

“She never had a chance,” they said. “She won’t make it through the night.”

“She might have won some battles, but she’ll lose this final fight.”

I tried to say, “I love you,” as I stood beside her bed.

She smiled her biggest smile, and this is what she said.

“You know I’ll never leave you, right? It’s really not that far.

Look through all the darkness. Give my name to one bright star.”

“It never did make sense,” they’ll say. “She had little ones to rear.”

“Nothing much that she could do.” I know that’s what you’ll hear.

I said, “What you did mattered,” and she held my trembling hand.

She saw her Country struggle and she had to take a stand.

There are those who disagree. It’s their right to think that way.

They might not survive tomorrow, but they’ll live free today.

“Tell the kids I love them. Show them my picture now and then.

Tell them where I’m going, but don’t tell them where I’ve been.

I hope the evil can be stopped and we keep our flag unfurled.

“I gave you all my love,” she said. “My life I gave the world.”

The last time she closed her eyes, I knew what she would see…

Whatever love looks like ..to those who fought to keep us free.

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“Put a flower on my grave.” That’s all she asked of me.

“Just one pretty flower that I’ll be sure to see.”

Murdo Girl…Katie comes home

After dinner, Brad and Jamie escaped to the library to discuss their plan to locate Tom. It had become increasingly important to Brad to find his younger brother.

After the fire took the lives of their parents and sister, Tom had gone to live with his aunt and uncle. He was only twelve when everything took place. Brad had been sixteen. He chose to go out on his own and no one felt compelled to stop him. He ended up doing what he loved. He worked on a horse ranch and spent the next four years learning the business while finishing high school and getting a couple of years of college under his belt.

“It shouldn’t be that difficult to find your aunt and uncle,” Jamie said. “Did they have any children of their own?”

“None. I realize now that they thought they had to take Tom in because Aunt Mildred was my mother’s sister and there really was no one else.”

“My heart breaks for Tom,” Jamie said. “Do you remember anything in the letters that gave a clue as to where any of the three of them are now?”

“No…” Brad walked over to a wall filled with books. “These were all here when I bought this house,” he said. “I’ve been here almost fifteen years and I’ve never spent any time in this room. It’s kind of nice in here isn’t it?”

Jamie knew Brad well enough now to know he was done talking about his family. At least for tonight. I will have to be the one to take the bull by the horns and find Tom, she thought. 

Dina went to the hospital with Steve every day, and after spending time with his daughter, Steve came back to the waiting room shaking his head.

Each day, Katie begged to see Arf, but didn’t show an interest in seeing her mother.

On the sixth day, Steve and Dina had a meeting with Doctor Simpson. “I think we’re going to send Katie home,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re not like the research hospital and we can’t allow dogs to visit patients, but we have to let her be with…is it Arf? I would stick close by if I were you, Dina. Katie will eventually come around. Maybe Arf will help bridge the gap.”

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***Katie came home!!! She doesn’t look too good. She must have really missed me. I get to stay with her all of the time…day and night. I won’t be able to help Mark with the horses or Jamie with the chickens, because Katie is what matters and she needs me.

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Mildred and Jack Jones were relaxing in the living room of their home in a very exquisite retirement community when there was a knock at the door. “Who could that be?” Were you expecting someone, Jack?”

When she opened the door, an attractive young woman was standing there.

“Hello Mrs. Jones,” she said. “I must apologize for not calling first, but when I discovered where you live, I felt an urgency to meet you. I’m a friend of Brad Humbolt, Tom’s brother. May I come in?”

Mrs. Jones stepped aside and motioned for Jamie to come in.

“If you’re looking for Tom,” she said. “I know exactly where he is.”

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Murdo Girl…Arf waits

***Jamie and Brad talked for a while, but I didn’t really pay attention. We had to get to the vet clinic. Jamie can’t be late or the animals will suffer. I don’t know what suffer means, but I don’t think it sounds like something I’d like to do. Sometimes I want to be with my own kind for one day. It’s not that I don’t love my family, because I do, but they can be pretty high maintenance. I’m ready for Katie to come home. I hope she still loves me as much as I love her. I want us to work on all the things we learned that will help her to walk. That’s the important thing in my life. All the other things I do are just busy work.

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Well, here we go. I heard Jamie and Brad say they had a plan. I don’t know what a plan is, but I’m happy we get to head for the clinic.

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When Dina got to the hospital, she went directly to the waiting room where she and Steve had agreed to meet. He said he would wait until she got there before going to see Katie. She hoped she had gotten there soon enough. Katie shouldn’t have to wait to see her daddy. She should have told Steve to go on alone if she wasn’t there by the time the doctor had given them the okay.

As it turned out, Doctor Simpson suggested Steve go in by himself first, anyway. He said Katie might not be ready for the excitement of seeing her mother so soon after major surgery. It might be wiser to have Steve tell Katie that her mother would like to see her and gauge how she reacts. Too much stress was not something Katie needed right now. On the other hand, it might be more stressful for her not to see her mommy.

“I understand Doctor Simpson,” Dina said. “I understand completely and the last thing I want to do is upset Katie.”

The doctor turned to leave, but he had something else to say.

“I should tell you that when Katie was hovering between sleep and consciousness, she talked about you in a very loving way. She kept saying she knew her mommy loved her, and she loved her daddy, too.”

It was as if all the blood drained out of Dina’s body. She felt every bit of the pain she had caused her little girl. Her baby needed a mother and Dina had not been there. Her husband, her mother, even her sister, Steph had paid a huge price. She hadn’t even given them a chance to be involved in her decision to go to a hospice facility.

“Dina, are you okay?” Steve asked. “You look like you need to sit down. Will you be all right? I’m going in to see Katie now.”

“I’m fine, Steve. Please, go be with Katie. I think I just need something to eat. I’ll walk down to the cafeteria and get a little something to bring back here. I’ll wait as long as you need me to. Promise me you won’t rush your visit.”

It was almost noon when Steve came back to the waiting room.

“They’re giving her some lunch and then they’ll check her incision and do some blood work. Dr. Simpson is still concerned about infection. I hate to say this, but I think she’ll probably sleep for the remainder of the day.”

Steve didn’t wait for Dina to respond or ask questions.

“Why don’t we drive to your house and you can pick up whatever you’ll need for the next few days. Since you don’t have a car, it will be easier for you to stay at the ranch instead having to ride the bus. I’ll bring you to the hospital every day until Katie can come home. Can you get the time off work? I know you’ve been working at the hospice.”

“I called them this morning. I have a lot of vacation time and there aren’t that many patients there, currently. I have all the time I need.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do!” Steve pulled the truck around and within minutes they were headed toward the little town he and Arf had been to the day they found Dina.

“I’ll do whatever you suggest. If you think I should stay at the ranch for a few days,” Dina said not too convincingly, “Then I will, but Steve…please tell me how our daughter is doing. I know she’s got a lot of mending to do physically, but how is she doing mentally?”

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“If you’re asking me if we discussed you, I’ll tell you we did. Let me see if I can put what I sense into words. I’m not a psychiatrist, but from what she said, I get the feeling Katie is afraid. She believes that you come and talk to her when she’s sleeping. She feels like she knows you, and she doesn’t want the real you to be different from the imagined you.”

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“I get it,” Dina said. “I’m afraid, too. What if I can’t live up to myself?”

“You can and you will,” Steve assured her. “There is one other thing. Katie talks like she is able to walk during those imagined visits.”

Steve knew that was a lot for Dina to absorb. They rode in silence for a while.
“Having a relationship with Katie is really important to you isn’t it Dina?”

“You have no idea, Steve. I’ll take whatever she’s willing to give and I will give whatever she’s willing to take.”

***Everyone returned to the ranch that night. Even Jamie came for dinner. I was supposed to go home with her again, later. We all expected to see Miss B and Grandma Helen cooking a huge dinner, but Grandma Helen met us at the door and said Miss Bessie was all upset because Miss Alice had kicked her out of the kitchen. Alice said it was HER kitchen and she was going to do the cooking. I hate to complain, but Alice never remembers to give me one of the good bones. It hadn’t been a good day for old Arf. I lost a frisbee to that female at the vet clinic, too.

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Murdo Girl…Arf’s family

The next morning, Dina was up and ready to go by 5:00 o’clock. Brad had given her the keys to Steve’s truck after making sure it had plenty of gas. He had also pulled it up to the front of the house and like men do, he gave her some pointers on how to drive it.

Both Brad and Jamie had offered to go with her, but having no idea what the day would bring, she thanked them, but declined.

She was on her way out the door when she noticed there was a light on in the kitchen. Thinking she could grab a cup of coffee to take with her, she walked in only to find Helen sitting at the table with a cup of her own. Too late to change her course, Dina walked in and headed straight for the coffee pot.

“I filled a travel mug for you,” Helen said. “Do you still drink your coffee black?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Have a safe trip,” Helen said as she rose to leave. “Please let us know how Katie is doing and give her my love.”

“Of course,” Dina answered.

Everyone in the household calls Helen, grandma, but she’s not my grandmother, Dina thought. She’s my mother. A woman who has spent the last seven years caring for her granddaughter, Katie, after I walked out on them all without explanation.

After being diagnosed with a rare blood disease, Dina had been told she would die soon and didn’t want to burden her family with that emotional upheaval in addition to giving Katie the care she needed. They had been told Katie’s paralysis was permanent. She would never walk.

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Dina

But Dina didn’t die. She lived less than two hundred miles away and worked in the hospice facility she had gone to when she had been so close to death.

A short time later, when Brad walked into the kitchen, Miss Bessie was in there cooking up a big breakfast.

“Good grief, lady. Are you cooking again? You spent all day yesterday in here and poor Jamie had to spend the day cleaning up after you.”

“Did Jamie complain? Is that why she left right after you all got home last night?”

“No, of course not. She’s a country girl, now. She had to get back to her farm and take care of her chickens and milk the cow. She also said something about weeding that garden of yours.”  What Miss B didn’t see is that Brad had a teasing grin on his face as he poured himself some coffee and opened the newspaper.

“Oh yes, the garden. I miss my garden. Oh well, Jamie’s back is younger than mine. My back just can’t handle pulling weeds anymore. That’s why Helen and I have taken up painting and a few other new hobbies.”

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“Like cooking massive amounts of food?” Brad stole a piece of bacon and walked out of the kitchen. He also had chores to do.

Jamie was up early, too. She wanted to complete her morning chores and do some detective work before heading to the veterinary clinic where she was doing her internship. She had regretted starting the internship early, but then, she hadn’t anticipated so many life changing events would take place. Besides, she enjoyed working at the clinic.

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***I got to come to the farm with Jamie. I guess she really needs my help, too. This should probably be more than a one-dog family, but I like staying busy…especially when my Katie isn’t here. I sure hope we go to the veterinary clinic, today. They let me go there with Jamie. The only condition is that I can’t bark. There’s getting to be fewer and fewer places where a dog can bark out loud these days. There is a female dog there that likes to steal my frisbee from me. I’ve lost two really good frisbees that way. I don’t know if I should take one, today. I’m getting low on good frisbees.

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Jamie and Arf were just finishing up their chores when they saw Brad pull in. Luckily, they had some time before heading for the clinic, because Jamie had some questions for Brad.

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“Good morning,” he said. “I thought I would stop by and let you know that we heard from Steve already this morning. Katie had a good night and she seems to be resting comfortably this morning. He also said Dina got there safely and they were waiting for the doctor to make his morning rounds.”

“That is such good news,”Jamie said. “We all have so much to be thankful for. Isn’t that good news about Katie, Arf? Poor guy, he’s been trying so hard to figure out when he can and can’t bark.”

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“He’ll get to bark enough when Katie gets well. A lot of his training includes barking commands.”

“We have about thirty-minutes before we have to head out, Brad. Come on in for some coffee. I want to talk about Tom. Do you know where your aunt and uncle are living now?”

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Murdo Girl…Will the storm pass?

To help assuage her nervousness, Miss Bessie had cooked all day. By the time Arf and Mark came in from getting the horses into the coral and barn, there was barely room on the counters or the table. Jamie was busy washing dishes.

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The ground was white with hail, but the wind had calmed down and the downpour was now a gentle rain.

Grandma Helen, Brad, Dina, and Steve were still in the waiting room of the hospital where Katie was having her surgery. They still didn’t know if her appendix had burst and if that was the case, had infection set in.

“I finally got through to the ranch,” Brad said. “Arf and Mark were able to get all but two of the horses to safety. Miss Bessie had dinner ready, so they were going to eat before going in search of the two they missed. It sounds like Arf outdid himself again.”

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Arf and Mark

Steve wasn’t listening. He was pacing. Dina was staring out a window.

“I can’t believe we haven’t heard anything about Katie. Have you checked with the nurses station, Steve?”

“None of has checked in the last thirty minutes,” Dina said.

“I’ll go now,” Grandma Helen offered. “Wait! is that the doctor coming?”

Dr. Simpson looked exhausted as he walked into the waiting room.

“Katie is a strong little girl,” he said. “I was more than a little worried about the outcome today, but it appears your prayers have been answered. I believe that with a lot of care, Katie will mend.”

Dina burst into tears. “Excuse me,” she said quietly. “I need to go to the chapel.”

“I’ll go with you.” Brad could sense that Dina really felt alone and afraid. “We’ll be back, soon, Steve. Helen would you like to come with us?”

“Thank you, Brad, but I think I’ll stay with Steve and listen to what the doctor has to say.”

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“Doctor Simpson, when can I see my little girl?” Steve asked.

“She is going to be pretty groggy throughout the night. Why don’t you go home and get some rest? You’ve got some tough days ahead of you.”

Steve had some time to think while he and Helen waited for Dina and Brad to return from the hospital chapel. By the time they got back, he had made a decision. He would stay the night at the hospital in case Katie woke up. He hoped that Brad would agree that Dina should stay at the ranch tonight rather than take a bus to where she lived. He also hoped Dina wouldn’t object to him being the one to stay. She could drive Steve’s truck to the hospital the next day, so they would have a vehicle. By the time Katie was fully awake, both her mommy and daddy would be there with her.  What happened beyond that, would remain to be seen.

***I decided I really like being a ranch dog. I like horses better than Miss Bessie’s chickens and I haven’t seen one skunk since I’ve been here. Mark and I found those other two horses in no time. Mark only told me to quit being bossy to them twice. They were getting spooked.

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Brad, Grandma Helen, and that nice lady got home last night. Steve and Katie weren’t with them which kind of worries me, but on the other hand. Everyone seemed happy, so it couldn’t be too bad. They must have taken her to a place that doesn’t like dogs.

I miss my Katie like crazy, but I’ve been cleaning up around here. I get a good bone every time I turn around. Nobody seems to know who’s in charge of those really good bones so they all give them to me. I’m in dog heaven.

Come home, Katie. Come home Katie. Come home, Katie…

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Miss Bessie showed Dina to one of the many empty bedrooms and gave her a fresh nightgown and robe to wear.

Never shy about involving herself in someone else’s business, Miss Bessie asked Dina if she and Helen had had a chance to talk things out.

“No,” Dina said. “I don’t expect forgiveness from her or anyone else. I only hope my baby can see how much I love her. I hope she’ll let me help her get well. I can live without being forgiven.”

Murdo Girl…The cottage

“Kip! I’m going to the cottage.”

“Oh Kip, if you need me, I’ll be at the cottage.”

“Come on over! I’ll be in my cottage.”

My friend, Pat, said I should call my she shed something simple, like Cottage, so I’m trying it out.

Here are a few more pictures. I’m having fun playing around right now. Everything is subject to change.

I’m still looking for a footstool and an end table

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I found some wire things that I thought would do nicely to hang my hat collection on. I hung one here because I don’t want to hang anything on the walls until I know for sure where I want them to go.

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Some of you will no doubt recognize things you have given me. I’m really excited that I’ll now have a place to display my collections. I’ll have to put the water tower photos all of you collected for me in an album.

Bonnie Blue was the first story I put on the blog. Remember Dakotah’s princess doll? Here she is!

I need to keep my eye out for an Arf doll. I did make a book of  Arf and Annie, pictures.

I don’t have the Connie’s Story doll. There is one, but she belongs to Mari Jackson.

Ellie/Essie was going to be my “E” but I never put the book together.

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Welcome to Beastertown

We are the shining crown

Of rabbit cities everywhere. None other can quite compare.

We treat others with respect and go beyond what they expect.

When it rains, we see the sun, and rainbows surround everyone.

Promises are never broken, and unkind words are never spoken.

When you speak, we will hear. We’ll make your worries disappear.

The Beasterhop has much to do, and many families to answer to.

He’s the Mayor of our growing town..The city with the shining crown.

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Beastertown, a children’s story, will be the first book I write in my cottage.

The pictures below are for Kip’s sister who hasn’t seen the before and after pictures of the ceiling.

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Pardon my excitement. I’ve never done anything like this before.

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Arf will be back tomorrow.

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Murdo Girl…A long day

“How long has it been since we last heard from the doctor?”

“About forty-five minutes,” Brad answered. “And about ten minutes since you last asked. Can I get you some coffee or something? You’re going to wear yourself out. When do you think Dina will be here?”

“No, I don’t want coffee, but thank you,”Steve said.  “Dina should be here any minute. I have no idea what to do with her.”

Helen was seated in a chair that was facing the door the doctor would be coming through. “I don’t know what to say to her, either Steve, but I think it’s important to follow Katie’s lead. If she forgives Dina, then we should, too.”

“We can’t put that much pressure on an eight year old. Just think about it,” Brad said. “She’s just a little girl who now knows her mamma is alive and well. In the midst of her incredible pain, she wanted her mother.”

Steve couldn’t help but feel hurt by Brad’s words, but he knew he was right. Children have a huge capacity for love. Just because his daughter loved and was close to him, didn’t mean there wasn’t room in her heart for Dina.

“Here comes Dina now,” Helen said. “I can see her checking in at the nurse’s station. I haven’t seen my daughter for seven years, and now, she’s about to walk through those doors.”

Dina walked directly to where Steve was standing. “Have you heard anything at all, yet?”

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“No…nothing, and it’s driving us all crazy. Dina this is Brad Humboldt and of course you know your mother.”

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Back at the ranch, Jamie and Arf decided to hurry back inside. A storm was brewing and it wasn’t looking good. The temperature had dropped and the wind was blowing hard.

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“I don’t know what to do, Arf,” Jamie was not knowledgeable about how to prepare a ranch for a spring storm. She looked to Miss Bessie who’s eyes were as big as saucers.

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“Don’t look at me,” Miss Bessie said. “I can take care of chickens and a milk cow, but horses? Can’t you just see me chasing a herd of horses into the corral. I bet they buck or something and get all riled up when it storms. Especially if there’s loud thunder. They probably even jump fences.”

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***I kind of wondered what Miss B was talking about, but I decided someone should take action. I begged to be let out and Jamie opened the door. I ran toward the paddock. I was hoping to find Mark, the hired hand. The horses were still out in the pasture, and I couldn’t see Mark anywhere. I managed to get the gate to the corral open before I ran out into the pasture to try to get as many horses penned up as I could. The sky was so dark it would be hard for a human to see. I couldn’t see that well either, but I used my other senses to find where I needed to go.

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I ran as hard as I could first behind the horses on one side and then switched to the back and the other side. I was worried they would trample me so I tried to stay a safe distance behind. Was I a cow dog? I knew I was doing the right thing.

I had about half of the horses through the gate when I saw Mark’s truck coming down the road. He was just in time because I could feel pelting hail on my head and back. The horses could too, and they went wild. I ran to the gate to make sure the horses that were in there didn’t turn around and come back out. Mark drove his truck to herd some more in. We never did get them all.

Mark yelled at me to get into the truck. I was happy to.

“You’re an amazing dog, Arf,” Mark said. “How did you know what to do?”

By the time we got back to the house, Miss Bessie had made enough food to feed an army and I got two big bones. The good kind.

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“I’ve only been on the farm one day,” Jamie said. “I’ve already messed up. I was too afraid to drive over there and take care of the chickens and the cow and calf. Will they be okay, Mark?”

“Don’t worry, Jamie,” Mark said. “I could tell the weather was about to turn so I drove over there and took care of them. I miscalculated too. I barely got back in time to help Arf.”

Miss Bessie picked up the phone to call the hospital. She couldn’t wait another minute to hear if there was any news on Katie.

“I can’t get through,” she said. “The lines must be down.”

 

Murdo Girl…What’s wrong with Katie

In the last chapter of Arf’s story, Katie and Arf were back at the ranch. Katie woke up the first morning with a terrible stomach ache. Her crying woke Arf. The training they had learned at the research hospital kicked in and without even thinking about it, Arf was able to transfer Katie from her bed to her wheelchair. Katie also remembered exactly what she was supposed to do. 

Arf pushed Katie’s wheelchair to the kitchen where they found Katie’s Grandma Helen. Katie was crying and doubled over with pain.

“Oh my goodness, honey.” Grandma Helen rushed to Katie and desperately tried to figure out what was wrong with her little granddaughter. “Tell me where you’re hurting.”

“My stomach hurts so bad I can’t even breathe. My chest hurts, too. I’m scared Grandma. What is wrong with me? Am I going to die?”

“No honey, you’re not going to die. Arf…go get Steve. He’s headed for the paddock to find Brad. I’m going to get the thermometer and take your temperature Katie. You feel feverish.”

***I was so worried. What could be wrong with Katie? She was crying so hard. Must find Steve…Must find Steve. There he is! I started barking and ran back in the direction of the house, but Steve didn’t follow me. Oh, no! He thinks I’m playing with him. I ran back to him again and barked. Then I ran toward the house again. This time he got it and came running behind me.

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When we got back to the kitchen, Katie was moaning and her eyes were closed. Grandma Helen Was holding a wet cloth to her head.

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“Steve! Something is terribly wrong. She is burning up and her breathing is shallow. She was complaining about her stomach hurting. Hurry and call Doctor Simpson. I was afraid to leave Katie’s side to do it. I feared she would fall out of her chair.

Steve ran to the phone and with clumsy fingers, dialed the number and was able to get through to Doctor Simpson’s office. Once he explained Katie’s symptoms, the doctor said to get her to the hospital and he would meet them there.

***Brad was back before they left, so he drove Katie, Grandma Helen, and Steve to the hospital. Miss Bessie and I stayed behind. We didn’t want to, but we had to. Miss Bessie called Jamie.

By the time they got to the hospital, Katie was bordering on delusional, and she was going in and out of consciousness.

“Mommy are you here? I need you Mommy. I’m so sick. I need you, Mommy!”

While it broke Steve’s heart to hear his daughter call out for the mother who left her seven years before, it also infuriated him. This was all so unfair to Katie.

In the midst of his anger, he remembered what Doctor Philips had said to Dina and him. He said they should put the past behind them for the sake of their daughter. Steve looked at Helen who was standing beside him. Katie was on the examining table in the emergency room and a nurse was getting her temperature and blood pressure.

“Helen, I need to make a quick phone call. Tell Dr. Simpson I’ll only by a minute.”

Dina answered the phone on the second ring. When he told her about Katie, she said she would take the next bus which would get her to a stop near the hospital in a little less than two hours. Dina didn’t own a car.

The doctor was there by the time Steve got back to the emergency room. “We’re taking her to surgery,” the doctor said. “This child’s appendix has burst. I just hope peritonitis hasn’t set in.”

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Jamie went right to the ranch to wait with Miss Bessie and Arf. Poor Katie…She had been through so much, and for the first time, she had hope…hope that after spending her whole young life in a wheelchair, she might be able to walk.

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***Miss Bessie started dragging out pots and pans and flour and sugar and eggs and everything she could find in the refrigerator. Too bad for me, she didn’t drag out any bones.  I like bones when I get nervous and I was really nervous. What if Katie doesn’t come back? I can’t even think about that. Jamie was nervous, too. I could tell.

“Let’s go outside Arf. I’ll throw the frisbee to you. Miss Bessie, will you holler at us when Steve calls? We’ll be right out front.”

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While waiting for the bus, Dina walked across the way and found herself in an empty church. She walked up to the front, knelt down, and prayed for her daughter. “I won’t pray for forgiveness,” she whispered. “I will pray for Katie to heal. Please, God, heal her body and her soul.”

Alf Church

Murdo Girl…Unmasked

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I’m as ready as I can be.

I have a crocheted mask that goes everywhere with me.

You can see me coming. The color is bright green.

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Those who see it say it’s like none they’ve ever seen.

I tell them it was made by a very special friend.

They want to know if she would crochet one for them.

I wore my mask all day. I had lots of things to do.

I found there are some mask pluses. I’ll spell them out for you.

I went by the grocery store that gives a senior discount

The clerk thought I was younger and charged a higher amount.

Everywhere I went people made the same mistake.

They thought me ten years younger which was something I could take.

I went to get a hair cut. The last thing I had to do.

I prepared to prove my age because they give discounts, too.

The stylist wouldn’t be convinced I was a senior citizen

It soon dawned on me…she couldn’t see my double chin.

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I finally caught on to what had been taking place.

You see, no one could see the south side of my face.

The north side has fewer lines. The south side tells the truth.

The south side has deep rivers. The north, the fountain of youth.

But when I have my mask on and look into the mirror,

I realize you can’t tell when I’m smiling ear to ear.

I won’t worry about what goes south. I’ll leave that for the birds.

I’ll wear my mask tomorrow and hope all hear my muffled words.

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These beautiful flowers are a Mother’s Day gift from my son.

I want to wish every woman who has nurtured a child a very happy and blessed day of celebration tomorrow…And don’t forget to wear your mask!

Murdo Girl…Talking it out

Steve knew his daughter and he sensed she’d had enough for one day. He never should have brought Dina with him to see Katie at the hospital. It was too soon. Katie wasn’t ready to deal with her mother coming back into her life. It wasn’t even that Dina was back in Katie’s life. She had left when her daughter was a small baby and Katie had no memory of her.

Steve suggested they leave Katie with Sam while they returned to the counselor’s office for further direction. The counselor said he had been afraid Katie might react as she did and advised them to give her some time. He suggested Steve return with Arf the next day..

Dina wanted to meet Katie’s doctors before they left, so they went to Dr. Philip’s office.

“Doctor Jones and I agree that Katie has been given all the tools she needs to learn to walk. There is nothing more we can do for her here,” he said. “There is no doubt Arf is willing and more than able to do his part. Now it’s up to Katie and the two of you. If I may offer some advise…I hope you leave the past alone for now and work together for your daughter’s sake.”

Steve and Dina said a quick goodbye to Katie before leaving. “It will just be Arf and me, tomorrow,” Steve said. “Your mother will come and see you after you’re all settled in at the ranch.”

Once again, Katie burst into tears. “Do you promise, Daddy? Do you promise she will come?”

This time Dina resisted rushing to Katie’s side. “I would love to spend time with you, honey, but only if that’s what you want. Just let your daddy know when you’re ready.”

The next morning Steve and Arf went by themselves to pick Katie up. Steve had never seen Arf so excited.

“The next few weeks are going to be critical, Arf. If Katie doesn’t show improvement soon, it’s possible she may never learn to walk.”

***I wonder if Katie has pulled herself up to her feet again. Has she shown anyone else she can stand up or just me? I can’t wait to see her. It seems like it’s been forever. I sure hope I remember all of the signals and commands I learned from Sam. I hope I remember how to dance and exercise Katie’s arms and legs.

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Katie and Arf were excited all the way back to the ranch. Katie babbled about Brad, Jamie, Miss B. and Grandma Helen, but she never mentioned her mother.

“You will be busy catching up with everyone tonight, honey, but tomorrow, we are going to establish a schedule for you and Arf to work together.”

***That night. I got to sleep in Katie’s room. Right before she turned out the light, Katie said, “I’ve always known my mommy loves me. She comes to me every night and tells me while I’m asleep. She says she loves Daddy, too.”

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***The next morning when Katie woke up, she had a really bad tummy ache. “Help me Arf,” she said. “I hurt so bad.”

I remembered how to help her get out of her bed and into her wheelchair. She remembered, too. I pushed her to the kitchen where Grandma Helen was.

It felt really, really good to help my Katie again.

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Jamie, Brad, and Mark, the hired hand, had worked all day getting the furniture from the attic and the remainder of Jamie’s belongings moved to the farm. It had been a while since anyone had been inside the house, and it was rather dusty, but Jamie couldn’t help but feel excited about having her own farm.

Brad was surprised that he felt a twinge of disappointment. Between taking care of the farm and her job at the veterinary clinic, Jamie would be extremely busy. Too busy to help him find his brother, Tom.

Brad rode back to the ranch with Jamie and Mark followed with his truck. “You’re awfully quiet, Brad. You must have your mind on your brother.”

“I can’t believe I didn’t have the sense to check up on Tom while he was living with my aunt and uncle. I assumed they didn’t know he was the one who started the fire.”

“I got the impression from reading the letters that Tom is the one who told them the truth. It also sounded like that was when they began mistreating him,” Jamie said.

“Of course. When they thought I was the one responsible, they treated me as if they hated me. They felt obligated to offer me a home, but it was really Tom they wanted.”

“Your mother and aunt were sisters. Am I right?” Jamie was doing her best to follow the timeline of the events that occurred before and after the fire.

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“Yes, but they weren’t very close.”

“Forgive me for saying this, Brad, but it doesn’t sound like anyone in your family was very close. Did you spend time with your grandparents while they were living in the ranch house you now own?”

“Remember, my family didn’t live here. Neither did my Aunt and Uncle. I can only remember coming to see my grandparents a couple of times, but I never forgot the house. They never owned much land. I was barely sixteen when my parents and sister were killed in the fire. After that, I didn’t have a home and I didn’t have a family. All I had was a dream. A dream to own a horse ranch. It was much later that I discovered the ranch house was going to ruins and I was able to get ownership of it.”

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“You’re an interesting man, Brad Holcome. I intend to help you find your brother as well as your aunt and uncle. They have some explaining to do.”

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