With apologies, I am going to have to leave you all unexpectedly as friends from church will be coming to live with us. In the next 48-hours, I have to clear space to accommodate two teenaged girls and their father and find room to store the contents of their house. SO my ability/time to write has vanished for several days while this gets sorted out. Hope to be back early next week.
1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.
They were on approach into Havre, MT, when the jet went screaming overhead. One of their soldier guards opened the small window in the door and Matt and Jamie joined him as they watched an old fashioned dogfight began. It could have been all over in seconds, but instead went on for some time. Dr. P. also went to watch.
“It’s like they are toying with each other and neither intends to be the first to fire,” the doctor commented.
The soldier looked at him and nodded. “One of those is a National Guard jet from Wisconsin and the other is a US Army jet. Looks like the boys in the air don’t intend to shoot each other.”
Well, there’s hope in that,” murmured the doctor.
Suddenly the guard jet turned and began to dive into a run.
“OH shi--!” screamed the soldier. “Everyone hit the deck!”
Experience had taught this group well and they all lay flat as they felt the train rock. The train kept moving. It never slowed. It swayed on its rails as air pressure and debris hit it but it kept moving. The plane never actually hit it.
Dr. P and Jan looked at each other. “No intention of actually hitting us,” stated Dr. P.
The train was supposed to stop in Havre but they kept racing across Montana, finally stopping at the siding in Shelby. The train seemed to stand like a panting shivering dog.
For the first time since he got on the train, Connor Donaldson, nephew of Sgt. Donaldson, spoke.
“Did you know that Jack Horner was born here?” he asked.
Jan looked confused but Drew Cody lit up like six free games. “Really! He was born here?”
“Yup!” said Connor. “He found his first dinosaur bone here when he was 8-years old.”
“That’s the same age as me!” exclaimed Drew. “Tante Jan. Mr. Horner is really important. He found the first Maiasaura nest. Does he still live here? Are we going to be here long enough for me to find a bone?”
Connor laughed. “Nah… he doesn’t live here. Sometimes though he comes back to visit friends and family. He’s down in Bozeman at the Museum of the Rockies but he travels all the time.”
A soldier came down to Jan. “We are going to be here about five hour,” he told her. “While we didn’t get hit directly, they want to check out the train thoroughly. They have asked that you keep the stoves off. They will cover the cost of a meal in town for everyone.”
Jan looked at Connor. “Well we’ll be here a bit and we need to eat lunch. Any ideas?”
Connor looked startled that his opinion was being sought. He gave Jan a small smile. “My Pa and I used to come here to go to the Kow Loon Chinese Restaurant on Main Street.”
Donaldson came through the door. He clapped Connor on the back but the excited teen had turned back into a sulky one. “So did you decide where to go? My parents used to bring us here a long time ago to a place called Kow Loon. The original Mr. Kow had started a restaurant here for the people who were building the railway. Eventually he was able to bring his wife and children over. I think the restaurant is now run by the 6th or 7th Mr. Kow.”
“You came here too?” Connor asked with surprise, “but I thought it was only my Pa and me…”
“He brought you too?” Donaldson inquired. “That’s great! I miss him too… glad you got that great memory.”
They smiled at each other but then Connor remembered he was supposed to be mad and the smile slipped back into sullenness. Donaldson just shook his head.
Later that day, Jan sat with a cup of coffee at the table and updated her note book. Under Ginger Cody, she added…
Name Age Date of Birth Schooling Work/Apprenticeship
Inga Schmidt 4 Apr 22 JK
Hilda Schmidt 18m Jun 15
Kurt Schmidt 18m Jun 15
Zach McConnell 3 (?) Unknown – given Dec 12
Connor Donaldson 16 Jul 26 Grade 11 No trade. Wants to go into army.
Jan looked again at the file social services had given her pertaining to Zach. It was comprised of his medical file from the hospital, a note advising that his parents had listed Jim and Tina Wright as their names on the rental forms but that a quick run produced nothing. The old lady had passed away before she could give them any information and no one around town was talking. The house had been a total loss with nothing retrievable. The child had given his name as Zach but didn’t know his last name, his parents’ names or his birthday. His estimated age was three, but a just turned not a turning four.
So social services had given him December 12th as his date of birth. With him going to Jan, they gave him her last name. They also gave her a cheque for $1,000 and a note saying that the Family Courts in Williston viewed the placement as permanent and their duties to Zach McConnell as being finished. They also noted that they expected Jan to complete the adoption process in Montana once settled and that they would appreciate a copy of those records for their files. Jan shook her head.
She then went and sought out Connor.
“Hey Connor, you got a couple minutes you can give me?” Jan asked pulling him away from a discussion with Matt, Jamie and Sarah.
“Go talk with her man,” said Jamie. “She’s got this book where she writes down all the things we want to be doing so that she can help us get there. I want to farm, so I’m an easy one, but Matt here is like you and wants to go into the army.”
Connor nodded and went and sat with Jan. They talked for almost an hour. Jan wondered if anyone had actually spoken to him since his father died. Certainly no one had asked him what he wanted to do or helped him figure out how to get there. She felt conflicted. As much as she had hated the way that Ontario and Canada as a whole had headed, at least in the schools there had been some attempt to get kids employed in something they wanted to do. Connor had no skills. He’d done nothing but hang-out and play video games for years. In some ways he was at the same level as John and David. Her first goal for him was to get him a skill. Otherwise he’d be nothing but cannon fodder going into the army. Time for a chat with his uncle.
Sgt. Donaldson had a few more issues to contend with that a sulky sixteen year old. The first was how to break it to Jan that her husband had been handed over by the Michigan Military to the Ontario Provincial Police and that he was back in Canada. He rubbed his face wearily. Time to have another extraction coordinated. And given the death sentence passed on all CISIS operatives, Jones was on borrowed time.
Jones knew that he was being moved. He kept his body limp and listened. He was dumped onto something that was table height. He then heard an unexpected sound. Helicopter rotors and they lifted. They weren’t in the air that long, maybe twenty minutes… a half hour. He could smell water when they landed. He was heft-up again and tossed into the trunk of a vehicle. If the whole thing hadn’t been such a spy novel he’d have laughed. The car stopped and again he was lifted out. They went up flight of stairs, pause for the door, then down stairs. He was seated on a chair and tied.
"Welcome home Jones!" said a disembodied voice. "We've gone to a lot of effort to locate you."
‘The only questions is will they beat me before they take the hood off or after…’ he thought. Then the first blow hit and he passed out.
Thanks Dosadi! Actually I am not too concerned about the girls. They are quite nice and very involved at our church. Challenge is that my house is much more structured and their mother is busy telling them that they don't need to listen to me, only to their father. Their father is saying they have to listen to me but the mother... yeah... you can see here this merry go round is headed. They are just confused and trying to get through.
Off to feed the thundering hordes. Have a great day.
At Amtrak’s request, the train pulled out at 4:30pm in order for the tracks to be cleared for the evening train to Seattle. It took them 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Essex, MT, to the big BNSF Rail Yard. It was here that the really heavy freight trains picked up additional engines to get them through the mountains. The train stayed overnight at the Essex yard and the kids had a wonderful time exploring.
Jan and the older girls were corralling the little ones when they ran into the Kellys who own the Izaak Walton Inn at Essex. As the kids admired what could be done to make a rail car a home if you had money, the Kellys were amused by the converted troop car that had hauled the growing family across the country. Certainly it did not subscribe to the luxury of their converted rail car suites. However, they did see promise in the ability to create bunk houses for backpackers. Jan sent Connor off to get his uncle. Meanwhile Sama and Andrea got an introduction to the chef. While he inspected their travelling barns, they got him to agree to purchase two milkings of 120 gallons of milk and twelve dozen eggs. In return they got more flour and sugar and three pans of the Inn’s famous Huckleberry Cobbler.
The cobbler was a huge success at dinner that night.
The next morning the train pulled out heading over the Continental Divide by way of the Marias Pass. It was only an hour and a half into Whitefish. There they were to be met by the truckers who would take Martin Cody and their steers to the Lower Valley Processing Company in Kalispell. Kyle, who was now walking without assistance, would go with him.
At Whitefish, the train would switch from the BNSF rail line to the Montana line that ran north to Eureka. Originally the train ran on to Old Rexford, but it was lost in 1972 when in Lake Koocanusa was created. It was created as part of a joint project between the US and Canada with the purpose of providing flood protection and to generate hydroelectric power. The Kootenai River used to fluctuated wildly in the spring causing flooding in Montana, Idaho and BC. So the Libby Dam dam was built and Lake Koocanusa is its reservoir. The name was chosen in a contest and the winner used the first three letters from KOOtenai River, and the first three letters of CANada and USA.
By 2pm, the train pulled into Rexford. Jan could have wept with relief. There was an amazing amount to be done, but they had got here and they were all safe.
Standing at the station platform was a young Amish man and the two people she had just about given up ever seeing again… her cousin Gordon McConnell and Jones.
OH yeah! Now to find out jones story. (OK I admit it i'm kinda gory about wanting to now what happened to the heros. I try to tone it down, but since I don't do hate in real life I splurge and dislike fictional bad guys strongly.)
Truth is that hate hurts the hater most, and makes anyone seeking justice weaker in the end. Kinda my vision of hate the sin, not the sinner, but different.
Fantastic!! Thank you for this wonderful adventure. Hoping that everything at home becomes peaceful ..teenagers, certainly girls, need a steady hand and structure. Why any mother would try to cause controversy is beyond me.
Jan wanted to leap at Jones but the toll of his time away was clear marked on his face. He stood only because of the crutch and Gordon’s help. Gently she kissed him.
Gordon grabbed her and gave her a big hug. She looked at them both marveling at their relaxed stance compared to their heavy battering.
The young man who had been standing back now came forward.
“Mrs. McConnell, you may not remember me. I am Jonas Yoder. I wast told dat meine feste Freundin, Mary, she is on the train with you.”
She looked at Jones and Gordon. “This is going to take a few minutes. Gord, please get him to sit down before the kids swarm him. Jonas, please come with me.”
Jane walked down the tracks a pace and looked at the young man. “Did you come down with anyone Jonas?”
“Yes,” he said. “Mein faddur.”
“Please go and get him.” Jan said quietly.
Jonas ran and came back fairly quickly with a tall bearded man, who was deeply uncomfortable speaking with this English woman, until he saw that her husband was close by.
“Gentlemen,” Jan started. “Several days after your train pulled out, the Village Council in Fenelon decided to make an example of the Agrico feed store and its employees. All of them were seized, the building looted and burned. Mary was amongst those seized. She was put through a trail in which she was accused of selling food to Relocators. She was labeled a Collaborator. Her head was shaved. She was beaten and repeatedly raped. The was then walked bare foot down Colbourne to the cenotaph where she was tied to a flag pole, stripped and publicly flogged. She was thrown at my feet when we arrived to get on the train.”
Mr. Amos Yoder looked shocked and ill. Young Jonas looked like he had been punched.
“When we were able to get her to speak she told us about the boys, Mr. Wallis and Dr. P. The army retrieved them all and they came with us. To be blunt, Mary is very traumatized. I need to make sure that you and your community are willing to accept her after all that has happened. You need to go and talk about it with your elders, because if you can’t accept her, then I will not let you see her. If you make it an issue later, we will come and take her away.”
“You are right, Mrs. McConnell,” said Amos. “We will accept her in our family, but we need to ensure that there will be no issues within the community. Jonas here will need to make some decisions and we will speak with our women. Come Jonas, we must pray and talk.”
Jonas stood there a moment longer. “I should have been there. We should not have left her behind.”
Jan looked at him. “There is no way to have known. This is what you must work through before you see her or your anger will get turned on her. This is where the doctrine of pacifism in your faith will be tested on a personal level. You have to learn to forgive those who did harm and those to whom harm was done.”
“I would never blame Mary!” he exclaimed.
“If you do not deal with your anger and frustration you will. She will become the only target you have. Now go talk with your father and your Elders. They will help you work it through. Meantime we have a rented building here in Eureka.”
“You are very wise,” Amos said nodding. “I have talked to your husband about the land they give. Do not accept it. It cannot be farmed. There is snow there now, but we saw it when there was none. See if they will give you land to the north, between here and the border.”
Jan nodded and then their attention was caught by a cry of pure joy and Jan saw John launch himself out of the train towards Jones. They all smiled. Then Amos and Jonas touched the brim of their hats and they headed out.
The chaos of the 24-hours that followed should not be underestimated. Jan and Jones tried to have time to talk but their now much larger family all had demands of time and attention and the livestock needed care too. Cousin Gordon, or Big G, as the kids calls him so as not to confuse him with Gordie Cody, was still transitioning from the five years of hard labour. Jones was far more fragile than she wanted to admit. She was sure that he had been starved but he wouldn’t talk and finally she took her concerns to Sgt. Donaldson.
“Sergeant, do you have a few minutes?” She asked.
He sighed knowing what was coming. “I don’t have all the details… you should really wait for…” Jan shook her head. “Okay, here is what I do know. He was transferred from the Michigan National Guard barracks to a prison in Windsor, Ontario. I think its official name is something like the South West Detention Centre and it houses both men and women in a maximum security setting. They also have a special wing for special cases. He had been held by the MNG for about four days at that point. We still don’t know if they were trying to extract information from him or were just having fun torturing him. He had been marked for execution, so I think it was just some sadist having fun. The broke every bone in his right hand. And I do mean every bone. The rest of him was kicked and hit in every spot possible with the aim of causing the most internal injuries possible. Our medical team worked on him for more than 14-hours and we are still not sure that he is going to make it. The real thing to watch for are kidney and brain issues. He was repeated kicked in the head and we don’t know what that will do to him.”
Jan sat back, pale and shaky.
“Well we’ve got a doctor in-house, so we’ll have to take it from there. Thank you for telling me.
“Now,” continued Jan. “We need to talk about the land issue. Not sure what bill of goods were being sold around here but the Amish I have met with are seriously ticked off. Moreover, I have been told point blank not to accept the land I was given. That it matches neither the spec or the images we were sent and it is entirely tree covered. Moreover, it is part of a housing development and the open spaces we were told were pasture are now covered with vacation homes. As you can see none of the men here are able to log nor are we here on vacation. I doubt those who paid of $300,000 for a vacation home are going to be too happy having livestock crammed into the 2-acre lot next door.
“I have gone to the real estate agents around here and there is not much farm land around here in the first place. There is a 95-acre parcel on Grave Creek (MLS#5319306) about 16 miles east of Eureka with a 4-bed house, but at $1.2 million I expect that it’s a bit rich for all our blood and puts the kids too far from any apprenticeship opportunities. There is an excellent little farm south of Libby, at 51545 Hwy 2 (MLS#20137408) with 80 acres on a creek against National Forest land. It’s got a 4-bed house and is $650,000. Just north in Newgate, BC, is another 4-bed house on 100 acres (MLS#2390611). In this case, it’s got 30-acres in pasture, 30 in hayfields, 10-acres are tiered with irrigation. It also has a secondary plumbed building. But again it’s on the market for $699,900. Now making more sense for us is that north of Rexford off the old Hwy 81 that was submerged, is a piece of land, without a house, that is selling for $479,000 (MLS#233482).”
Donaldson grimaced and took the information that Jan had given him. With the way things were heating up he needed to get back east ASAP, but these were people who had dealt fairly all the way along and he didn’t want to leave them in the lurch. Moreover, as he had been hearing complaints, he began to wonder if anyone in the Relocation office had even come out here to look on the ground. It was a huge investment the army was making in ensuring food production for its own needs and if some idiot in the Pentagon had decided he could make decisions from a make and without recon, Donaldson figured it was time to shake some things up there too.
As he headed out, Jan went to check on Jones. He was sleeping. Mary was sitting with him. Her bruises were fading and she was moving more easily. She and Jan had had a long talk the night before and Mary had cried herself to sleep over what might have been, but she was glad that Jonas knew. She hoped that he would not be too long in his decision as she had her own to make. As she thought about it, she wasn’t so sure that marry Jonas and staying here was the answer. The world had changed and she wasn’t sure that she could sit quietly in a backwater and let it change without her participation. Once she could have, but she was now involved in this war at a very personal level. She had skills and abilities. She didn't want anyone to speak on her behalf ever again. She wanted her own voice. Once she would have been happy to have stood at the woodstove and been wife and mother. Now she wanted more and more than anything, after all that had happened, she didn’t want to feel like someone was doing her a favour in marrying her. She was angry that it felt like she was on trial again with neither the reason nor the outcome taking her personally into account.
“Jan,” she said softly. “I’ve reached my decision.”
“You know,” John told the Committee. “When Donaldson and his units finally pulled out of Eureka, Mary and Matt went with them. My mother was right, Matt’s deferment was cancelled and he was called up immediately. He served in that long conflict that became known as the North American Civil War. Mary served too. She went into espionage. Her proudest moment was going back into Fenelon and dealing with that nest of vipers.
“Jonas and Mary did have a long talk. He had found a way to work through his fury and feeling of impotence at not being able to protect her. Jonas and his family were unwilling to allow what had happened to interfere with Jonas’ desire to marry Mary. However when Mary told them of her decision, Amos was relieved. He later told Jan that he was not convinced that the community would be so forgiving in the long term and he had been worried that it might be used against the young couple and any children later. Jonas later married Sama and they continued to run the dairy operation, later enlarging it to more than 60 head. They had nine children, who continue to live in the Rexford area.
“Mary did not live to the end of the war. She died in on a mission in Kingston, Ontario. She had just freed 4 political prisoners from the Kingston Penn. Her name is on the cenotaph in Rexford. In a tradition we brought with us from Fenelon Falls, every November 10th at sundown on the eve of Remembrance Day*, we light a candle in her name and place it on the cenotaph. Our cadet corps then stands guard over our memories until the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In the going down of the sun and in the morning, we remember them.
“In the end Donaldson acquired the peninsula north of Rexford for us. The price and the lack of buildings made the difference. We were also then close enough to the Amish community to be able to take up apprenticeships as we reached the right age. The soil wasn’t much better than home, but our apple trees all survived and that made my mother happy.”
*Note: The Remembrance Day Eve candlelight ceremony takes place every November 10th in Fenelon Falls, Ontario. The veterans, cadets, scouts, and guides all walk followed by the village members who carry candles, each named in memory of one who served or is in active service. The candles are placed at the base of the cenotaph and the cadets then stand guard through the night. In 2011, there were 2,500 candles lit. It is incredibly moving and such a small thing that we can do in memory of those who laid down their lives so that we might live in freedom.
Thanks everyone! I should say as a disclaimer that Fenelon Falls is a wonderful community to live in and we spent a wonderful number of years living ten miles from town. For a number of years we participated in the Remembrance Day Eve service and one of my favourite memories is watching my child carry a candle in memory of his great-grandfather's service with the 29th Field Artillery (Guelph), Canadian Army.
I would also like to say that the Kawartha Dairy in Bobcaygeon is a real dairy, although not run by the Raven family, and their ice cream is incredible. As much as possible, I have put the stores, schools and roads as they exist, so that if you want to play on Google Map you can find them. As I have moved out of the Kawartha Lakes, I have done the same for other communities, so that should you need their services, the stores are there and the products bought from them are sold there. Amtrack does run trains daily from Chicago to Seattle and the stops are as presented and the Chinese restaurant in Selby, MT, is there, although its history is created for the story. I hope one day to visit Eureka and Rexford.
I likely will not be able to post the next installment today as I have to have a wedding cake ready for pick-up by 2:30pm Newfoundland time... so for those of you on the Pacific coast, pray for me as you drink your morning coffee. Have a great day all.
I'm just glad the story is NOT over!! (though this would be a great stopping place for book I as long as there was a book II!!!!)
thank you !!!!!
kaija, don't say that!
Lake Lilli, please ignore kaija talking about stopping this and doing a book 2. Just keep going with this story! In my experience, it takes too long to start a book 2. We need MOAR!! Thank you for the wonderful story!!
( \ o / )
/ _ \
Following my Lord-
Where He leads me,
What He wants of me,
Who He wants me to be.
Lake Lili I have just finished the first page of your story. Thank you for taking the time to share your gift of story telling with us. I am looking forward to reading the rest of your story I am really enjoying it.
Kaija - thanks for the encouragement but one book at a time for me.
Appreciate everyone's encouragement. So here is another installment and I'm off to teach grade 3. Amazing how much I learn.
Two days later, they had moved into the restaurant in Eureka for the rest of the winter. The landlord was glad to have it rented for the four months as he had a buyer for it with a May closing. Located at the corner of Dewey Avenue (I-93) and Hwy 32, there was a convenient field just north of it.
Jones and Big G spent several hours going over topographical maps and satellite images of the land they had been given with the boys from the Army Corps of Engineers. They brought Amos Yoder and Issac Knapp into the discussion as they were organizing the teams to build the buildings. In the meantime, temporary barns had been erected in the back field. Permission had been granted to do this because the family was willing to haul the manure out every two days. They took it to the farm and began the compost pile that would be tilled in come spring. The neighbours had also agreed to the conditions.
A representative from the local school board came up and spoke with Jan. They offered to fit the kids into the school through the end of the year, giving Jan the opportunity to get the house set up before deciding if they wanted to go back to homeschooling. With 16 high school aged kids (5 in grade 12, 3 in grade 11, 5 in grade 10, and 3 in grade 9) for the Lincoln County High School, four middle school kids (2 in grade 7 and 2 in grade 5) and four more for the elementary school (2 in grade 3 and 2 in JK), it was a generous offer and after speaking with the others, it was accepted. The kids were less than thrilled but saw the value in meeting others and in not just hanging around. There would be three buses that would swing by to get them starting at 7:30am on Monday.
Inside the restaurant the two private reception rooms became bunk houses for the boys and girls. There were also three small meeting rooms, and those became rooms for Jan & Jones, Dr. P. & Grandma, and for Big G. One of the two big dining rooms became a playroom/homework area for the kids, and the other became the dining room/living room for the whole family. The women all loved the big kitchen space. Andrea located her cheese making equipment and soon the extra milk was being served as a soft cheese on crackers and bagels made by Lydie.
Gail had taken over the boxes and bags of clothes and in short order, with Sally and Heather’s help had organized it so that clean clothes were available to all. Those in charge of the livestock were pleased to see how happily the animals settled into their new accommodations. Eggie was pleased that the layers were laying again. Sama saw a rise in the amount and quality for the milk. They were all waiting for Martin and Kyle to get back.
Later that afternoon, Jan found the boys huddled around the radio in the playroom.
“What are you listening to?” Jan asked them figuring it would be football or hockey.
“Radio Free Redoubt,” answered Eric. “Initially you think their tin foil hats are a bit tight but you soon realize that they actually know what is happening. None of the MSM is reporting about what is happening in Canada, but these guys seem to have some reporters in Ontario who are getting the information out by ham to someone in Northern Michigan.”
“What is going on?” She asked.
“Apparently Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and all the members of Parliament have disappeared,” said Eric.
“Some crazy lady named Olivia Chow was urging people to rise up in memory of their hero and martyr. Some guy named Jack Layton. Supposedly in Toronto they were marching through the downtown carrying banners and placards with his name and image on them. The crowds reached Queen’s Park and then some of them realized that behind them were police moving barricades into position. To leave, you were funneled through a processing center. If you were receiving public assistance, then it was cancelled. Any further protests and you went to work camps. Problem was that this was still being done by the Ontario government but they are claiming it was at the direction of the US Army, which is saying it made no such request. All sounds very confusing.”
“Keep listening and let me know.” Jan said and moved on.
Heather and Sally were playing with the little ones on the other side of the room and Grandma Jones was knitting in a corner keeping an eye on Hilda and Kurt and they ran about and fell.
Jan was worried about Jones. He wasn’t moving any more easily and his translucent colour and tremours were of increasing concern.
Jones was worried. Even more than worried he was confused. He felt continuously hung over, like his brain was operating in a deep fog somewhere between a spinning gyroscope and molasses. He felt nauseous and had clammy sweats. He was constantly cold. All these people around him. He was supposed to know them. He felt swamping waves of panic. The people came in and out of his range of vision and their voices and the colours of their clothes swirled around him until he couldn’t respond at all. He would close his eyes and all would gradually still but when he opened his eyes nothing would focus. He vomited. Someone came into range and gently cleaned him up. He didn’t recognize her.
But it was the two women that worried him. One thought she was his mother and the other thought she was his wife. He was fairly sure that he didn’t know either one of them. The only one he was sure he knew was the young boy glued to his side. He was fairly sure that the boy was his son, but he didn’t know where they were or why. He was so tired. His body ached. Perhaps if he slept some more it might become clearer.
That day he had stood on the train platform and this man had been talking to him, had been just one more day in a long run of nightmare. If the man hadn't been there, he would have fallen down. This gorgeous vital woman had stepped out of a rail car laughing with a soldier. She had seen him and come over. She had kissed him so gently. She was obviously excited to see him but he hadn't a clue as to who she was. He had looked at the man beside him for help.
"You're wife," the man had whispered. "You lucky dog, you."
But Jones hadn't feel lucky. This vital woman had seemed too vivid for him to cope with. He had felt like she was sucking energy from him. Also why was the dog lucky? He had been and continued to be confused.
Jan watched him from the doorway. Tear streamed down her face. She had expected that Jones would be here and step-in and take over some of the load. It was going to be a long time before that would happen. She wanted to yell and scream and curse… she wanted to lay down like a two year old and throw a screaming hissy fit… but someone had to be in charge and it looked like she wasn’t going to be able to share that with anyone for a while. Dang! She wanted her husband back. She wanted her handsome strong whirl-wind husband back. She wanted a chance to be like every other married couple. She wanted the head of their household back in his God given position. She wanted… well if wishes were horses then beggars would ride…
“I would like to tell you,” John told the Committee, “that my father recovered quickly but he didn’t. He never really did. Physically he regained strength but he never stood straight and proud again. He always seems… well frail would be the word. He caught every bug that came though - colds, flus, pneumonias got him all. He seemed to always be sick.
“And mentally, he was never the man he had been before. The brain injury he sustained was significant and it damaged him in ways no one could have ever predicted. Eventually he was able to do some work around the farm but he had to be supervised to some extent. So there was always a kid trailing after him… Mom’s version of ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’… and he was good with us kids. It was with the adults he had problems. It’s like he knew there was something wrong and with us kids he didn’t have to pretend.
“My mother loved him. She honoured her vows and loved him. He depended on her but he never seemed to really figure out who she was, and he never got anyone’s names except mine. I think seeing him was part of why Aunt Becky didn’t stay. Losing a second brother on top of everyone else was just too much for her. Caring for him taught Heather a great deal about head trauma cases and she went into the military nursing program and specialized in helping soldiers with brain trauma. Grandma didn’t care. Her boy had made it home and she would take him however she could get him.
“We weren’t home that day, some five years later, when he slipped the kiddie leash and went for a swim. He drowned in the Kootenai River in the place where the dam widened it into Lake Koocanusa. He was buried on the farm.
“Mother loved him and she never complained to us about the hand dealt. She just continued on. She was the strongest person I ever knew. She told me once that I was the prize she won in their marriage, and that she would go through it all again just to have me. Even with all the other kids about, I never felt anything less than love. She was a remarkable woman.”
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