Story So that your love may be complete.


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Clora thought Joy looked much better, her physical appearance and energy was in high gear. Warren came in pulling two wheeled carry on's.

"She brought bricks with her," he confided to Clora. "These things weight a ton or better." Warren wheeled the suitcases to Joy's door and knocked. Joy opened the door, said thank you, pulled the cases in and closed the door in one swift motion. Warren was left staring at the closed entry, wondering what had just happened.

Clora turned her head, pretending to watch Sam and Luke. The reactions those two had with each other, would have been funny, except she was way to close to laugh without getting caught and having to explain.

Warren, the suave, debonair man of the world with his craggy good looks and sophisticated airs, was getting exactly nowhere trying to charm the vivacious and likeable Miss Joy.

There was a large pot of chili heating on the stove for supper, and left over biscuits and sliced bread to eat. Clora was sure Mark didn't have enough money with him to fill seven teens and himself with hamburgers and fries; so she was going with back up plan B. If they were still hungry when they got home, they could serve themselves.

For a skinny kid, Milo could eat astounding amounts and Robert was right there matching quantity. Teddy was indifferent about eating, not interested as Milo was. Benny was growing well. He had put three inches in height and was as tall as Teddy. The child that surprised Clora was TJ. He was quiet, ate well, was mannerly, pitched in to help and worked hard at school. He was a slight child, thinner than he should be and he had a good, ready smile. He was catching on to being a member of boy gang.

There was totally no indications of the problems, Toby had told them about. Toby had lied about TJ, and his lie and the way he and Meg treated the boy, made Clora sad. Clora would never let TJ go back to their household, she decided.

Warren had examined the adoption papers of the children and declared them all legal, sloppy but acceptable in court.
Mark and his Dad had several conversations about Wade and his strange behavior. First he had claimed to be Mark's Dad and then Lainey's; mixing in all the underhanded dealings with the 'Nam group and Wilson.

Warren had no explanation other than Wade's beatings at the hands of their father. Warren was curious about Bonita, finally telling Mark he couldn't picture Bonita and Wade together, they seemed like such opposites. Mark had to tell about Clora finding out Wade had filed to take Tessee away from them in a stupid attempt to improve the child's welfare.

"She would have roasted him on a sharpened stick," Mark said laughing. "She never trusted him from the get go, and believe me, when you get on Clora's bad side, you're toast."

"I believe that," Warren had no doubt. "You both have had quite an exposure to the Donaldson's, I'm sorry we have been such poor examples. I knew Wilson and Wade were in Portland; but I was gone so much of the time on purpose, that we rarely crossed paths. There was one year I was home for a total of five days. There was no reason to live any other way." Warren had stared straight ahead, fighting his emotions.

"Tell me about Happy," Warren asked in a low voice.

"We only saw her the one time. Wilson came to the farm on some phony pretense, and before we knew it, she was driving in. I honestly didn't feel any emotion looking at her, and I've wondered about that. She was a tiny, shriveled up old woman. She wasn't any taller than my collar bone, and it was almost impossible to picture her carrying three babies the size of me."

Warren had looked at Mark sharply. "What did you say....never mind I heard but I don't think that was Happy. Hadjina was a tall, willowy woman, and that's what attracted me. She was one of the few girls that I knew that was my height, that's one of the reasons you are so tall. Look at Tess, she resembles Clora, but she is a carbon copy of Happy."

Mark had to think on that for a while. "The woman introduced to us as Happy, was 5'2' or so. It's not likely she would have lost that much height to old age, so the only logical conclusion could be, that was not the Happy you knew. Why the hell would you use a woman and then leave her?" Mark asked bitterly. "Surely you had to be aware of what could come of it."

The sudden attack cutting deep into Warren. "I've asked myself that a million times, and I'm going to tell you this once, and I will never repeat it again. I didn't marry Happy because she wouldn't marry me. I asked and she refused." Warren had stood up and walked off, leaving Mark more unsure than before.

From somewhere out of Mark's introspective vision, Clora had come in the room and sat next to him, holding his hand silently.

"I think I know how you feel," Mark spoke with feeling, "about not knowing your mother." Clora's smile was soft and sad, but she looked up when Warren came back in the room with a picture.

A young man that looked like Mark and a tall, willowy, beautiful woman with wavy, long dark hair looked out from the frozen moment in time. Mark had felt the emotion, this was his mother.

Warren had walked away, and never mentioned another word. The woman Wilson claimed was Happy, wasn't.
Clora had looked at the picture and seen Tessee, their daughter a spitting image and a legacy to her paternal Grandmother. Mark had put the picture in his dresser drawer, and Clora had been sure to get it when the fire had caused their evacuation. To Mark, the picture was like Grandma Evie's skillet, the only link to a family.

Clora thought that the fire and the reaction she had to it, probably cemented her resolution to get rid of Helga and Karl. Clora could feel, when she touched the photo, the duo weren't there to protect Clora and Mark, they were there to kidnap Tessee when the time was right. Mark had nearly gone berserk when she confided in him, and Karl and Helga were taken out of the picture.

Clora sat in the living room, listening to the sounds of Lemmie and Hank returning, and then the excited voices of the thundering herd making their usual grand entrance. As she always did, Clora looked up to find Mark and welcome him home with a smile.


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Clora was standing in the open kitchen door, enjoying the cool air after the supper rush. The supper the kids said they really didn't need to eat, and ate more than a gallon and a half anyway. As the herd went upstairs, TJ came to stand beside Clora.

"What am I supposed to call you guys?" his voice held traces of an emotional wobble. TJ wouldn't look at her, so Clora calmly put her hand on his thin shoulder.

"I am going to tell you, you may call us Ma and Dad, or Aunt Clora and Uncle Mark, or Grandma and Grandpa. I'm going to leave the choice up to you, I want you to be comfortable and feel wanted. I don't know why TJ, that Toby and Meg wanted you to come here, but I am very glad and happy that you did. Because we thought it was very important for you to belong to us, Mark and I adopted you so you will be a part of our family forever. When ever you are ready to know more, or see the adoption papers, Mark will show you and answer any questions you have. I do want you to know that adoption papers mean you belong to us and we can never send you away. Your being moved will never happen again."

Lightening fast, TJ turned and buried his face in Clora's apron. He was crying and Clora wasn't sure if he was happy or sad, but she folded her arms gently around him and hugged.

"I thought I had been really bad and they were punishing me, and I wanted to tell them I was real sorry." TJ hiccupped and blubbered. "They never said anything, just told me to get in the van and then Toby came out and dumped all my stuff in the back. I was really scared." He let all the crippling emotion out, freeing his little heart and mind from the cruel way he had been treated.

Benny had come back down stairs looking for TJ, and when he heard what was going on, he scooted into Mark's office. "Dad, Ma and TJ really need you right now." he was so serious, Mark nodded and got up and followed him to the kitchen. Mark got there in time to hear TJ's weepy confession and he went to stand next to Clora and put his hand on TJ's back.

"What Ma said," his deep voice reinforced Clora's words. "You are a part of this family now and we will love you, help you grow and teach you to love God. All the things a man needs to know as he grows up."

TJ wiped his eyes with a corner of Clora's apron and then she heard him blow his nose. She supposed he used her apron, she didn't think there was anything else handy. Mark was hugging Clora, Clora was hugging TJ and somehow Benny got in the huddle and was hugged too.

"What am I supposed to call him?" TJ asked, using his hand to point at Warren who was sitting in the living room watching them.

"Lets go ask," Clora turned TJ and used the other corner of her apron to dry his eyes.

Warren watched them walk toward him and suddenly he got very nervous. This was a big, big deal to the little boy and he didn't know how to handle it correctly. A wing and a prayer, Warren thought, a wing and a prayer.

"Do you want to ask, or do you want me too?" Clora was smiling softly, giving TJ ownership of the choice.


"Warren, TJ would like to know what he may call you?" Clora turned so TJ, who had suddenly got shy, and buried his face in her apron again, could see Warren and his reaction.

Warren said "humm," and looked TJ up one side and down the other in a pretend inspection. "He looks so much like all the rest of them, he'd better call me Grandpa." he offered and smiled at the small boy.

It was what TJ needed and he looked up at Clora for her approval. Clora said "yes," and TJ swiped at his nose once again with the apron corner and ran off with Benny, when Benny started yelling "Co'mon, race you."

Clora had to sit down.

"Thank you Warren, that was a generous gift you gave TJ. I don't know if you know the back story, but Mark can tell you. We welcome TJ and he will become one of our children, as the rest of them have and they belong to us in every sense of the word." Clora, the matriarch of the clan had spoken and issued her decree. There would be no abrogation.

Joy had her room door open and had heard every word. She smiled to herself. What a wise woman Clora was.


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"Is it time for bed? I'm drained," Clora sighed hard. Without waiting for an answer, she asked about Wayne and Millie's new place.

"Not much larger than their apartment up stairs, but has a basement, a small fenced yard and right next to the playground. Want to know something funny?" Mark lowered his voice. "We were done and I was standing there talking to Wayne, when he motioned for me to look over at the swings. There are all our young men swinging and singing their hearts out. Milo had Joey on his lap and that kid was laughing for all he was worth. Wayne called Millie out to look. It was quite the sight."

It made Clora feel good that her children were loving and considerate; she told Mark they were as wonderful and loving as he was, and she thought Warren must have swallowed wrong. He was coughing and choking all at the same time.

Warren gave his son a considering look, wondering if he and Clora were talking about the same man.

Later that night, Warren raised an eyebrow to Mark, wanting an explanation.

"Hey," Mark said solemnly, "When a woman like that tells you that you are considerate and loving...I'm sure not gonna argue with her." Then he chuckled, "she might threaten to do serious damage to me, I gotta be careful."

Joy heard that comment also, and she was sure Clora was a smart woman. She had brought the paperwork concerning her late, ex-husbands estate, and she was going to request Warren's help. Working with him would be an excellent way to get to know him, his principals and what he might have in mind for the future; or if there would be a future.


.357 magnum- fer who ails ya...
God Bless You, and Thank-You, Mrs. Pac... I so look forward to each, and every, piece that you write...




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Thanks for the chapters, Pac!! This thread is the first thing I look at in the morn and on my lunch break, and it's the last thing I look at before going to bed. Of course, there's a lot of F5 action in between, too!!!

You never cease to amaze, delight, and inspire me!!


Live Free & Die Free.... God Freedom Country....
"I am going to tell you, you may call us Ma and Dad, or Aunt Clora and Uncle Mark, or Grandma and Grandpa. I'm going to leave the choice up to you, I want you to be comfortable and feel wanted. I don't know why TJ, that Toby and Meg wanted you to come here, but I am very glad and happy that you did. Because we thought it was very important for you to belong to us, Mark and I adopted you so you will be a part of our family forever. When ever you are ready to know more, or see the adoption papers, Mark will show you and answer any questions you have. I do want you to know that adoption papers mean you belong to us and we can never send you away. Your being moved will never happen again."
"Warren, TJ would like to know what he may call you?" Clora turned so TJ, who had suddenly got shy, and buried his face in her apron again, could see Warren and his reaction.

Warren said "humm," and looked TJ up one side and down the other in a pretend inspection. "He looks so much like all the rest of them, he'd better call me Grandpa." he offered and smiled at the small boy.
Now TJ knows he is completely part of the family....

Joy heard that comment also, and she was sure Clora was a smart woman. She had brought the paperwork concerning her late, ex-husbands estate, and she was going to request Warren's help. Working with him would be an excellent way to get to know him, his principals and what he might have in mind for the future; or if there would be a future.
Go Joy.... Warren is caught and soon....


Contributing Member
WOW, I was away for a week or so and came back to jackpot of chapters. Thank you so much for continuing with this story. I look forward to reading the new chapters.
God Bless You Mrs PAC.


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Monday morning was a free for all, get breakfast, lunches and books to kids and on the bus time. Clora sat at the table with Luke, Liz and John, watching as John was having trouble getting his spoon to his mouth.

Lemmie was watching Clora as she watched John. "Is that a problem," she asked quietly.

Clora had to nod, she couldn't speak.

"Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes," Clora whispered, "but we couldn't get in until January." Something was definitely wrong, John started to weave in his chair and Clora caught him as his body stiffened out in a seizure. "Get Mark!" Clora screamed, and Lemmie flew.

At the screaming, both Warren and Joy popped open their room doors and came rushing out.

"John's having a seizure," Clora yelled and tried to pick him up.

"No, No, he has to be on the floor to be safe," Joy was shouting. "Make sure his airway is clear, Warren get a spoon so we can control his tongue."

Mark came running, Lemmie flattened herself against the hall and let him speed past. "Call 911," Mark directed Warren, "dispatch an ambulance, tell them we're in a grey Chevy pickup on Highway 25, headed to the hospital."

Mark picked up the rigid and jerking child and dashed outside as Clora was hobbling as fast as she could to get the door open for him. Clora and John went in the back seat, the door slammed and Mark started and floored the pickup.

The ambulance met them half way down the hill and mother and child were transferred to the emergency vehicle.

John died in the emergency room. The tumor had exploded with growth after the first operation, tentacles of the blastula winding around and cutting off the blood supply to the brain. The massive aneurysm that had formed, broke, ending John's life.

Clora was holding herself, rocking back and forth as the tears flowed and she tried to pray John into heaven. Holding his hand still sticky with breakfast oatmeal, she held it to her forehead and couldn't breath with the crushing pain she was feeling. Mark came to stand beside her, his hand on her shoulder.

Mark prayed as Clora prayed, asking God to accept their son in his innocence into heaven. Finally the nurses could wait no longer and compassionately moved the parents from the room. Clora turned to Mark and cried, her tears raw, sobbing grief as they held one another in the hallway.

One of the Little Button Creek Wilsons was there in the ER with a boy that had broken his arm falling out of a tree. The man looked at Mark, recognizing him as the Deputy that had befriended them. The large woman looked to be the Deputy's wife and the way she was crying and they were holding each other, the man knew it wasn't good.

All the occupants in the waiting room watched as the Coroner wheeled a gurney with a small covered lump out to the ambulance and shut the door. There wasn't a mother or father there that didn't reach out and touch their own child, the adults realizing what had happened.

Clora was holding on to Mark for support, her head buried in his bad shoulder and Mark welcomed the pain. It served a purpose; a focus against his own pain and sorrow.

A Doctor came out and took the couple back into a room, away from the people staring in the waiting room. There were questions that needed answers, and Clora gave the facts in between bouts of crying.

Hank and Warren showed up and guessed the outcome, by Clora's sobs. Hank went to get the kids from school and Warren drove his son and daughter in law to the funeral home. Arrangements were made and then he drove the grief stricken couple home in painful silence, broken only by Clora's sobbing.

Lemmie called Millie, Millie called Wayne and Wayne called Toby.

Ezra Wilson went home and told his Granny what he had seen, and she said a prayer. Kids were sent running to tell the other Wilson family's, and plans were made.

Clora was sitting in a chair, rocking Liz and Luke when the kids burst into the room, and they all formed a circle around Clora and prayed. Clora held out her hand for Mark, and he wanted to refuse until Lemmie told him to get his sorry hide over there and comfort his family.

Warren walked outside, instantly aged and feeling the pain, but unable to stay inside any longer. Joy walked out after him and put her arms around the stiff and unyielding man. No words needed to be said, they simply needed comfort against the heartache. Eventually, Warrens arms came up and encircled Joy, and they just stood there.


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I can only imagine the pain that would incur, don't want to get any closer than that. Thank you for the whole story, both the good and the bad.


Live Free & Die Free.... God Freedom Country....
Even though, this is a story, it is saddening.

Loosing a child, regardless of the reason, is traumatic for parents, siblings, family and friends.

You lose a part of your future, part of your life, but you will always have a place in your heart for the child that was lost.

We have lost two children and there is a place in our hearts for both.

Prayers, family, friends and time help to sooth the pain of the loss.

Remember, you have others that also need your love and they will help you thru such times.

My soul and heart cries for those that have lost a child.

Our prayers for those that have lost a child.

May God spread his hands of healing and calming over those that have lost a child.

God bless.



Senior Member
Oh, Pac!!!
Such a powerful chapter.
It makes our hearts ache just to read it
How U must feel writing it.
Thank You is such a small word but it's all we have sometimes.
So, Thank You, Pac.


Senior Member
That was gut wrenching. Really good stories make a movie play in my head and that one did it to me. You are a powerful writer and I thank you for sharing that gift with all of us. Even though I could feel the crushing pain I had to go back and reread that chapter. Thank you! That seems so inadequate but it is all I can do.


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"Mama don't cry," Liz was patting Clora's cheeks, and Clora couldn't stop weeping. Clora was in her chair and every child had to come give her a hug. Even Milo and Robert of the ...don't touch me, I'm too big a boy to hug...fame hugged Ma in her sorrow.

Mark sat at the table with a cup of coffee he couldn't drink. He didn't know and didn't care where Warren and Joy were, he didn't miss them. Stoic and grim, nothing in Mark's life had prepared him for the emotion that happens when you lose a child. He was a man that thought emotions signaled weakness, but the only death he had encountered was Borg's. And Borg had been trying to kill them, so that took the emotional response out of the equation.

Millie was the first to arrive, she sailed in and gathered up Clora in a hug and let the woman cry. Millie was crying too, and they finally ran out of tears.

Lemmie was working on baking cookies and rolls; she wasn't sure Mark and Clora knew enough people that the neighbors would bring in food. The Little Button Creek Wilsons were the first to arrive. They brought apples and a scalloped corn dish.
The center ridge Wilson's were next and they brought a venison and potato casserole with green beans and bacon bake.

The Wilson's up on the mountain came with a blackberry and a apple pie; and Addison Wilson brought his Granny and family and they brought two huge pans of corn bread and some wild bee honey.

Gains and Faye Maureen Montgomery were next, Gains the preacher asked if he could conduct a service and Clora looked to Mark and he consented.

Addison's granny asked if the baby was at the house and Clora shook her head no.

"We come to wash and do a sitting up for him, but if he ain't here, we cain't." she said practically. "We'll do some sittin and then go on to home. Your man, he done us some powerful good," she told Clora." he's got good in his heart. I hate it that we got to be meetin this way, your boy, how old was he?"

The old Granny got Clora to talk about John, and the old woman was pleased to find out there was a brother and sister. Luke and Liz came out from behind Clora when Lemmie put cookies on the table, and although they were shy with so many strange people, they played hesitantly with the stranger's babies.

Lemmie was familiar with the local customs, and with Joy's, Millie's and Tessee's help, she put on a meal. The good hearted Wilson clan paying respects to the child and his parents, as they would for any of their own clan.

Those that could eat, had a meal and then the Granny inquired about John's christening dress.

"He was baptized by a man that was not a true minister," Clora had to whisper, her hand on her hurting heart.

"And them other babies, them too?" the Granny turned as sorrowful as Clora. "We gotta get them babies blessed," she ordered. Mountain Granny's are used to giving orders and having them carried out. "Alls ev ya the same ways?"

Clora nodded. "My brother lied to us about being a minister, he had no power or authority."

"Reverend Montgomery, we need you;" the Granny called out. "It's important," and she called him away from the group of men to attend to business.

"We gotta get these people blessed to God," she ordered, "all'evm, today, right now."

Gains Montgomery baptized, by blessing water to be holy and marked the sign of the cross and sprinkling water on every member's forehead with the special water. He included Warren and Joy, Mark and Clora and all the kids, Millie, Joey and Wayne, when the brother came skidding in the door. The maintainer still running outside the hotel parking lot.

While the getting was good, Lemmie pushed Hank in the lineup, as he didn't know for certain if he had been baptized or not. Lemmie didn't want to take any chances.

"Reverend," the Granny woman called out, "you be seein to the boy." and Gains said he would.
"This makes me feel right good, getting such a fine family right with God. Addison, time to be leavin." the whole clan was gone in twenty minutes.

Joy was astonished and asked Lemmie about the customs. "They wanted the baby's pillow, split it open and looked for a halo. Only John didn't have a feather pillow, and they were disappointed to find that out."

"They were looking for a good omen," the cook explained. "Good, solid, strong in their belief's hill people are some of the finest folk around. I didn't think about them coming, or I would have said something to warn you. That's almost a ten mile walk over the mountain for them to come here. They must really respect you Mark, normally they keep pretty much to themselves. I heard the men offer to dig the grave, that's what they do.

Gains asked about the funeral, and was a little astonished to find out Mark and Clora were going to have it at the house, burying John on the hillside above the buildings. He agreed to conduct the simple at home service the next day at 2pm.

Gains and Faye Maureen left, and the house got real quiet. Clora sat back in her chair and closed her eyes, the strain making her heart jump around.

Wayne had to leave, he was over the state line and needed to hustle back into his territory. Joey was napping with Luke and Liz, so Millie couldn't leave for a while, and she rested on the couch.

Clora happened to sneak a peek at Mark, and what she saw had her standing up and taking her husband by the arm and out the door they went. It wasn't hard to coax Lady down for feed and attention, and Mark stood with ramrod posture, holding on to his burden of guilt. He had caused his son's death by not taking the child immediately to the doctor.

"You must hate me, look what I did to John; I feel like a monster." the words came tumbling out.

Clora said "No," and when she tried to take Mark in her arms, he stiffened and backed away. "Don't push me away," Clora's thick with hurt voice told him, "I need you to help me get through this. We have lost John, I can't lose you also. You can't do that to me Mark." the words hung in the air and slowly Mark turned and reached out his hands for her.

Clora could feel his hot tears on her forehead as they stood so close together. Clora started praying the Lord's Prayer, her whispered voice muffled between the two of them. Inky came to sit close to Clora, worrying that Mark was causing her distress. He kept an eagle eye on his Mistresses' man. The man might be Alpha dog, but Inky was Clora's protector.

The funeral was simple and private. Gains brought the body from the funeral home in the plain wood box Clora and Mark had requested. High on the knoll above the house and overlooking the lake, the men of the Linderman clan buried one of their own. Benny and Tess sang with Liz helping. Gains blessed the baby and sprinkled water on the coffin top, there had been an autopsy, and Clora wouldn't allow the lid to be opened.

Back in the house, no one said much, they all sat around and looked at their shoes.


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Thank you, knew it was good for Mark to make sure those mountain folk had enough ammo to get them through that tight spot and included them in the rice and bean give a way.


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Reminds me of my brother's funeral. He died right before Thanksgiving, and the funeral was the following Friday. We were sitting in the house on Thanksgiving morning when the doorbell rang: the neighbors (a bunch of them) had worried we wouldn't have dinner, so they brought a turkey and fixings. Noon rolls around, and the church delivers a turkey and fixings. They had barely left the drive, and the fire department shows up with a complete turkey dinner. We had a stack of 17 pies - granted we didn't have as big a family as the Lindermans, but still.

Southern hospitality is a very very real and precious thing.


Live Free & Die Free.... God Freedom Country....
Across our great land, family, friends and community come together at time of trouble and distress with the loss of a family member.

Problems that families can have with the loss of a child is the guilty that comes with the "what ifs" and the "accusations" which can destroy many families and causes many divorces.

It takes love and understanding between the parents and within the family that somethings cannot be reasoned for things happen that are out of our control.

The hurt of the loss will still be there but it can be clamed.

God bless.



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I didn't expect this, very sad. These chapters put us all in touch with our own grief. We all hurt just as badly but time makes it different.
Maybe because the passing of time brings us all a step closer to our own end on planet Earth .

I don't know what else to say. You're a fine writer Pac, but I know the pain you write is real. Prayers.


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In the silence laying thick in the living room, Clora picked up her Bible and turned to Psalm 103, and started reading aloud. One of her favorites, her voice grew stronger as words from the ages poured forth, assuring them all that God was in charge and would help them.

By assuring her children that God was making her and Dad strong in their time of grief, Clora passed the tools of living in faith on to help guide them all. The reminder, given in such a calm voice full of love, assured that John wouldn't be forgotten and they would be reunited in heaven.

Joy put her coat on and walked across the road to sit on the bench; the breeze blowing small white caps on the gray green, chilled water. The dark grey clouds, promising more rain.

It suited her mood. Being with this family as they handled loosing their child, was a painful and stark reminder of what she had lost over the years. Lemmie was the only sister left alive, the rest of her siblings had passed away as had her parents.

Joy had lost two babies before they were born; the children wanted and waited for, and it was not to be. Joy didn't know how long she was lost in the musings of the past, but it was almost dark when Warren came across the road to sit with her.

They made small talk and eventually Joy got so cold she needed to go in. As she stood up, Warren abruptly asked her why she had come outside that afternoon to hug him. He sounded mad, angry that she had touched him. He was demanding an answer from her and Joy had to swallow hard before she could reply.

"For a moment I needed to pretend that someone cared about me and my hurting heart. I'm sorry I offended you." Joy walked away, the house and her room a place of private refuge. Joy packed quietly. In the wee hours of the next morning, she loaded her car and left. She and Clora had hugged a goodbye. They were both strong women, God would see them through.

Warren had spent most of a sleepless night, and when he could finally close his eyes, he slept so hard he missed Joy's leaving. He didn't know what to think about her. He had been shocked when she hugged him as she had done; he didn't know why and he didn't want to share his grief with anyone. He especially didn't want to be touched. Her answer was unsatisfactory and revealed more need on her part, than he wanted to get involved with.

Since she had left, Warren decided she was as uncomfortable admitting that need, as he had been in hearing it.

The Linderman clan made it through a whole year. The winter bad, the spring glorious, the summer more hot and humid than usual, and the beginning of fall the anniversary of John's death.

Clora and Mark had an empty space in their heart, but they had children in the present that need love, care and guidance.

Cody had come to visit during a rare, late summer's week's break from school. Lemmie looked at her Grandson and marveled at the man he had become. West Point was difficult, and Cody worked harder than he ever thought possible; but Mark had shook his hand and given his protégé a 'good work' and paid for another year.

Practically over night, Milo changed from a teen to a young man in the last year of high school. Milo was all business as he studied and worked at absorbing Mark's lessons at home. Milo, after many discussions with Mark about his future, asked to go to West Point and Mark agreed. The machinery was set in motion to get a congressional recommendation to the school.

Robert was next. The young man a junior in school, but the same age as Milo. Robert was very practical when Mark asked if he would like to attend West Point, offering the same chance to the Thompson that was so very much a Linderman.

"No Sir," Robert had declined. "My poor start has left me so far behind in schooling, I wouldn't be able to do the studies. I would like to become a Marine and put myself into that line of work, while I figure out what I want to do. I've thought about it, and I like the structure they provide."

Robert had well thought out reasons and a fair and concise understanding of his capabilities. Mark approved and told him so; stressing that Robert was using good, critical thinking skills and he would do well.

Teddy was a junior in high school, leaning towards attending MIT when he graduated. His math ability was a capacity so great it went unmeasured. At his parents insistence, Teddy was as good in the rest of his studies and an Olympic bound sprinter and long distance runner.

Tess and Benny were freshmen in high school. Tess, an astonishing contradiction of intelligence and skill at every level she was challenged. Tess had one goal. She was going to become a doctor. John's death had such a profound affect on her, she carried this burning need to help children stricken in the same manner.

Benny was the mechanic. Anything thing he took apart went back together in excellent working condition. An inventor, a tinkerer, a young man that wanted to farm the earth the Linderman family owned and bring forth it's bounty. Benny also wanted to be a minister, and he took night courses to enhance his desire.

Gary was still a harum-scarum kid. His mind went in a hundred different directions, until Clora and Mark looked for and got a diagnosis of ADHD, and with a strict regimen of food, sleep and exercise, improved his response to school.

Lou was the animal man. His association with Blossom gave him the desire to become a vet, and he worked hard at his schooling.

Sam was the dark horse. So calm and easy going, it seemed nothing motivated his interest, like the older kids had picked their favorites. Clora and Mark watched, allowing Sam the freedom to be what he wanted to be.

TJ struggled in school, and Clora and Mark understood he may never be capable of caring for himself. But they patiently taught what he needed to know and set him on the path to independence as he worked through the steps of growing up.

Then there was Luke and Liz. Mark had to shake his head at their budding musical genius children. Mark and Clora bought a piano, and the almost five year olds played classical scores by memory.

Clora, who laughed and said she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, listened as they practiced and read her bible as comfort.

Mark and Clora had been married fifteen years.

So much had happened during that time, Clora gave thanks for the guidance sent by God.

As late summer brought the bounty in from the garden to be put in jars, Clora and Mark listened with amusement to grumpy Warren as he was irritated with their laid back life.

Mark suggested his father might take a trip to the big city, to see what was happening, and Warren griped he didn't know where to go. Mark suggested Chicago with a straight face, and made it almost all the way down the hall before he started laughing.

Lemmie and Hank worked and made plans to visit Joy over Thanksgiving.

Mark had the barn, machine shed, and shop combination almost done, when he got a real itch to go see his valley. The Prince had agreed to exchange the valley for Walter's farm, so the paperwork was finally finished and Mark was deep down satisfied.

Clora had watched as Mark's interest doubled itself every day and she sent her husband/pirate off to look for buried treasure. Mark was totally convinced that Pete's share of the Rhodium had to be in the upper cave. As they were responsible for unimaginable amounts of higher education money, Mark talked and talked until he got Wayne to agree to go along. Wayne took comp time for a week and the men went to the airport with big grins.

Millie brought Joey and baby Abraham Scott to visit the morning the men left. "Talk about a couple of teen agers headed out on a lark," she had complained good naturedly, "I don't think Wayne slept ten minutes last night."

Clora laughed. "Mark assures me that he is done with the excitement of his former life and that he doesn't miss the adrenalin, did you see him run out of here? Helga used to complain about Karl's 'indecent haste' and I know what she meant."

"Speaking of that, have you had any more problems concerning the 'princess' stuff?" Millie was curious.

"No, not really. You weren't there when Mark was introduced to his 'supposed' mother at Applewood Farm, and then later, Warren showed Mark a picture of his mother, they certainly weren't the same. That's a loose end that has been floating around in my mind for a long time, and I don't know where to put it. The same with the feeling about Sylvia Suzanne, my mother. I can feel she is still alive and somewhere on the west coast, but that's all that comes through." Clora took a sip of coffee. "Are you going to let me hold that precious baby? It's been a long time since I've had my hands on him."

"Well let's see, today is Thursday and I thought you held him after church on Sunday?" Millie teased.

"I did, a long time ago." Clora teased right back.

They had found a small Community church half way between where Clora lived and where Millie lived. They attended together as a family and the affiliation with a regular minister made both of them happy. Abe had been baptized, and the kids that wanted to sing, raised their voices to God in harmony.

The only person who wouldn't go with them was Warren. He sat in the empty house and was content to listen to the silence. His mind wasn't easy to turn off however, and over and over it replayed the words that Joy had said. 'I needed someone to pretend they cared for my hurting heart.'

It got so the continuously replayed words cut deep; and Warren had made two stealthy trips to Chicago to see her. Joy had been gone working both times, and Warren was left with a very dissatisfied feeling. It wasn't the first time he had missed the boat concerning women, and he wasn't sure he had the right to try again.

Warren had asked Lemmie if Joy was back working for the 'business', and Joy had replied, 'yes she was.' and went to do something else, leaving Warren standing in the kitchen feeling foolish.
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Veteran Member
What a wake up story this am! Mark and Wayne off to get in trouble, and Warren chasing a skirt like a teen. Thank you Pac.


Veteran Member

When Lemmie came back in the kitchen, she had a distasteful look on her face that plainly said...oh, you're still here, when she spotted Warren.

"I would like Joy to contact me please, have her call this number;" and Warren passed Lemmie his business card with his private cell number on the back. His dignity was a front, and when Lemmie hesitated, Warren tried to smile to reassure the cook.

"I don't think you're very good for Joy," Lemmie had been honest to a fault. "But, she sighed, "I will pass this information on to her the next time she calls." Lemmie went back in the pantry after shoving Warren's card deep in her apron pocket, effectively cutting off anything more he might have wanted to say.

Two month's later, Joy didn't call; she showed up at the house with a broken left hand and scrapes and bruises and a bandaged cut over her left eye. She was friendly, polite and decidedly cool to Warren.

Joy went to sit on the bench frequently, but always walked away when Warren showed up. She about drove him crazy with a snatch of music that she hummed and Warren figured she didn't realize she sang it over and over.

Finally, he corned Joy in the living room one Sunday while the family was at church.

"Would you please tell me what that song is, you sing bars of it constantly."

Joy had been reading and doing paperwork and she looked up startled. She thought Warren had gone to church and she would be alone. Joy shook her head, "I don't know, what song?" she said as she started gathering up her papers and prepared to move.

Warren hummed the catchy set of notes, and Joy smiled and said, "That's Own......and she stopped and went silent. "I'm sorry I'm annoying you, I won't sing again." she closed up her personality and escaped to her room and firmly shut the door.

That was a real bust, Warren told himself. He had to make a call to a friend from long ago and ask about the song he could hear Joy repeating to herself, softly in her room.

Bennett laughed and told Warren he hadn't heard that song for many years. "It's by the band Yes, and it's called, 'Owner of a lonely heart. It was a number 1 song back in the early '80's, I believe. Where did you hear that?"

The time passed quickly as Warren chatted with his friend, they had been on a few missions together and enjoyed the others company. "My lady just got home," Bennet interrupted Warren, "when are you coming to England?"

Warren had to tell him it was not likely and smiled as Bennett rushed the goodbyes to be with his woman. Warren distinctly felt left out in the cold.

Warren had called from the bench and he sat out there a long time pondering the significance of the song Joy had been humming. He was beginning to understand the sentiment.

The sun went behind a cloud bank and Warren went back inside the house. A few minutes on his computer brought up the song and associated video. The song was the catchy set of notes Joy had been singing, but the video was weird and he supposed you had to be in the '80's to appreciate it.

Mustering his courage, Warren knocked on Joy's door. When she opened it, he could see her suitcase on the bed, Joy was preparing to leave.

"Please come have tea with me," he invited, and watched as Joy stiffened her backbone and threw a veil over her eyes.

"Alright, for a moment", she acquiesced, and walked into the kitchen. It was still awkward to use her casted hand, and she neatly maneuvered the bulk of the kitchen island between them, and filled the kettle with water.

"Are you going for a mission?" Warren tried small talk.

"No, I need to get back for other reasons," Joy intently watched the burner heat and turn red, like she had never seen it heat before. Her voice was calm but final.

"I would like you to stay," Warren had no idea why he said that. It surprised him.

Joy shut her eyes and drew a deep breath, and it was over so quickly that Warren almost missed it. "I shouldn't have come," her voice was soft and full of what Warren identified as pain. "I had no business interrupting your time with your family."

"I'm glad you did come, I've missed being with you." Warren had no idea what his mouth was saying, he seemed to have no power over it.

Joy went very still, the silence stretched as tight as a rubber band.

"Please stay, I......I would very much like to talk to you." Warren thought he sounded like a blathering idiot, but Joy was poised to cut and run.


Then Warren said the only thing that was able to reach Joy. "I was hoping to find some one to care for a hurting heart. Mine".
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Lake Lili

Senior Member
Ahh... so Lemmie is playing gate keeper. Not always a wise position to take.
Thanks for the immense about of writing Pac!


Veteran Member
Joy found out she isn't as fast as she used to be...Zigged when she should have Zagged. Thank you, and L L is right, Joy may not be happy when she finds out Warren was trying to see her.