Being a novel, all characters, events, dialogue and representations are fictional ... and in no way are meant to represent any real or living persons or events... except the few annual events that are used to move me through time. The opinions expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my author. And the story is copyrighted, by my author of course. Oh, and from time to time I may include some real time events to keep the blog more authentic. Comments and suggestions will be appreciated and seriously considered as the story moves along.

If you are just joining us, start with the Prologue and Chapter One on March 1, 2011, in the Archives.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chapters 32 & 33

Chapter 32
   Campos had been true to his word and work was finished by the 12th. And Colin had been true to his word and helped move me in on Saturday, with both Josh and Jamie assisting. I generously paid the students even though both had objected loudly. Finally, Colin told them to take it, that “Mrs. Grant’s” feelings would be hurt if they didn’t.  
   Sharon and Doug had come early to help, and while the four “men” picked up furniture and hauled the big stuff, we women thoroughly discussed every possible location for every piece of furniture from the storage unit, making a list of pieces we’d need to start shopping for.  
   At one point, I found an opportunity to talk with Jamie alone, and expressed sincere condolences to him about his mother. His usual smiling face had been more sober than normal, but when I mentioned it, I saw the raw edges of still-fresh grief cloud his vision. 
“I don’t know if Professor Murphy mentioned it,” I said gently, “but I lost both my parents at about the same age you are. If there’s anything I can do other than pray, please don’t hesitate to call me. I know you might have questions about your feelings... it’s just that I have been there and can try to help navigate you through it.” 
       I didn’t know if I had said too much, so I was silent for a moment.
He met my eyes for the first time and said softly, “He told me. Thanks. Mrs. Grant. Does it go away? The pain, I mean?”
I reached out and touched his arm. “No, it doesn’t. But it gentles with time. My parents have been gone more than 30 years and I still get ambushed once in a while with the grief. It’s something you learn to live with. Mom and Dad would have wanted me to get on with my life and to be happy.” He looked at me as if saying he could never imagine being happy again. He turned away. 
“I promise it will be better with time, Jamie. Call me if you need me.” 
He nodded and went outside to bring in another load from the truck. My heart ached for him knowing how hard it actually was going to be for a very long time. 

The hardworking crew was rewarded with pizza for arranging and rearranging furniture, unloading books and carting numerous boxes. Doug left earlier when the heavy lifting was done. Josh needed to head to work right after the pizza, and Colin left shortly thereafter with Jamie to work on some business for the Saddle Tramp organization – last spring Jamie had been elected this year’s president and because he was absent most of the summer, had a lot to catch up on. Colin promised to call Maggie later in the week.      
   “Ooohhh,” Sharon said as Colin drove away. “What a hunk! No wonder you’ve got the hots for him!”
   “Phelps, I don’t have the ‘hots’ for him. He’s just an interesting man who’s generous with his time. A friend in the making.”
“A friend with a face and body that are unbelievably handsome. You might need to rethink the sex thing, you know.”
“No, I don’t want to rethink it. And speaking of which, I looked up what the Bible says about it outside of marriage. Do you want to know?” I asked as I walked to a bedroom with another box. 
   “Not really, but tell me anyway so I can refute it,” Sharon said as she followed. 
   “Seems there’s no real prohibition in the Bible against it between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman ...”
“See? That’s great! I’m happy!”
   “But,” I continued, “sexual immorality is denounced in more than two dozen passages in the New Testament. In Corinthians, Paul says it isn’t good for a man to have sexual relations with a woman, and then he goes on to talk about how each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband.” I stopped then, looking at my friend’s reaction before continuing. “Seems Paul states marriage is a cure for sexual immorality.”
   Sharon sniffed and said, “Paul also hated women and said in Corinthians they should keep silent in assemblies and if women want to learn anything, they should go home and ask their husbands. Says it’s a disgrace when women speak in an assembly. Also, according to Paul, in Timothy, I think, he says he doesn’t allow women to teach or to wear their hair in fancy styles or to even adorn themselves with pearls.”
My eyes widened, thinking of mother’s pearl necklace, which I wear for special occasions and often to church. 
  Sharon continued, “But that’s Paul ... not necessarily God. So, if we don’t believe that garbage any more about speaking, teaching and wearing pearls, why should we believe what he said about sex outside of marriage? One of the ten commandments said not to commit adultery, not that we couldn’t enjoy one of His gifts without marriage. I’m confident He won’t send me to hell because I’m sleeping with a man I love dearly.”
   “I don’t believe He will either. However, I’m not ready to say it’s right for me. So, as usual, we respect each other’s opinions on the subject, right?”
   Sharon laughed. “Right, girlfriend. But you might at least give it some thought when that gorgeous man takes you in his arms next time.”
   “Maybe I will, but I doubt it ... and it’s if there’s a next time.”
   Close to midnight, Sharon finally said good night, and I was alone in my new home. I poured a glass of wine and then walked slowly through the entire house, looking critically at every room once more before making up the mattress in my new master suite. I raised my glass up high and said a prayer of thanks, draining the last dregs before turning in. Great house, I remember thinking just before I drifted off to an exhausted sleep ... and so little furniture. Must shop ...
Chapter 33 
   At Mass yesterday morning, I ran into Fern in the vestibule, accompanied by a tall man with a crew cut. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place him. Must be Fern’s husband, I thought, the way he’s holding her hand. How sweet. 
   “Maggie, my friend,” Fern said. “Let me introduce you to my better half. Russell, this is Margaret Grant, the creative lady I told you about who did such wonderful crafts for the children earlier this summer. Maggie, this is Russell, my husband of too many years to count.”
   I smiled at the tall man in the western suit with bolo tie, desperately trying to place him. He was so familiar! Where??? Shaking his hand, I said, “Pleased to meet you, Mr ...” What was Fern’s last name? Did I ever know?
“Russell Arbuckle, Mrs. Grant. And I’ve seen you at Tech regents meetings.”
“Of course, Mr. Arbuckle!” I said with sudden recognition. “You’re a regent. I hadn’t realized ... Oh, and you’re the generous donor for the Wind Museum.” I looked accusingly at a smugly smiling Fern, I said, “You keep things close to the vest, don’t you!” Looking back at Mr. Arbuckle, hoping I’d recovered my manners quickly enough, “But how nice to finally meet you.” 
   Fern was so unpretentious, and yet they were probably the wealthiest family on the South Plains, if not in most of Texas. Amazing.
   Russell smiled and said, “I’ve heard good things from my Fernie about you, and from Monsignor Fitz. And Winston Whitaker thinks you’re quite a smart woman. We ’preciate your sending Steven out to interview me about the museum gift. He did some nice stories.”
“It was our pleasure, Mr. Arbuckle,” I said, smiling. Then searching their faces, I tentatively asked, “I, um, I thought the article said your wife’s name was Dorthea?”
   Fern smiled, but it was Russ who answered. “It is. Dorthea Fern Cavenaugh Arbuckle. But we’re not that formal around these here parts. Fern is what everyone calls her and Russ is what everyone calls me, so please, no Mr. Arbuckle, if you don’t mind. Just makes me feel old!” he said with a wink. I remembered Steven’s article said he was 83, his wife 77.
   “Thank you, Russ. And I’m Maggie.”
“And we’ll be late if we don’t go in pretty soon,” Fern said. “Monsignor likes to start on time, or is it Father Murphy today? Isn’t he the best homilist? Just love his interpretations of scriptures. Oh, Maggie, we’re starting another round of Bible study at the house this fall, after Labor Day and you’re welcome to join us. I’ll let you know the details, but we really must go in now, Russ, darling. See you later, Maggie.”
“Yes, see you later, Fern. Nice to meet you Russ.”
   It was Father Murphy who celebrated that particular Mass, and once again I lost myself in his thought-provoking sermon. Lately, I’d given fleeting thought to trying to attend the earlier Mass so I might see Colin — he was an early morning person, he’d said, and liked attending as the sun came up — but I think it might be too forward, since the 10 a.m. service is my normal routine. 
        Besides, after the physical work of the previous day, I was surprised I’d made it up in time for even this mid-morning service. I’d planned to spend the rest of the day unpacking a few more boxes, especially in the kitchen so I could start cooking, but my sore muscles and the still blistering hot weather made me think instead of a relaxing afternoon in the pool at the Nest. 
       I opted for an hour in the pool and then went back to my very own house to dig through more containers.

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