Thursday, March 5, 2015

Arlissa - Day 209

Marie, who was the shy one in the group, gazed over at her newly found sister sympathetically, and walked around to where she was getting ready to rise from the chair.

Holding her arms out, she embraced Arlissa.

She didn't have to say anything; her actions spoke louder than words.

Hugging her in return, Arlissa whispered, "Thank you, Marie!"

That seemed to have broken the dam, and the whole family gathered around her, hugging and welcoming her into their fold. All questions were left in the dust for the time being. It was enough that she was with them, the rest of her family, at last.

Granny would be leaving the hospital soon, and Arlissa would have family that she had sought for so long. The empty places in her heart would be filled. 

Love would come in its own time; in fact, she was sure it could very well be on its way to her in the form of one young highway patrolman. She'd just have to wait and see. 

For now, she was happy, just to be Arlissa Jane Hinton O'Hanlon.

(The end)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Arlissa - Day 208

"Well, that is the other news I wanted to share with you. I just found out recently that you all are my half-brothers and half-sister. Rosie was my twin sister. Thanks to your mother, I was able to verify it. She loaned me the family photo album with Savannah's photo and also it had a letter tucked in between two of the back pages that told me a lot, too. It was from our father."

They all stared at her, hearing her words, but having great difficulty believing them. 

Their father and her father were the same man. 

"But, when, how? What happened?" 

The siblings turned to their mother. 

Zeb asked, as their spokesman, "Mom. Would you explain to us, please? How could something like this happen? You've never said anything to us to indicate that Rosie wasn't yours."

"Oh, Zeb! She was mine! Not by birth, but I couldn't have loved her more if she had been born by me. When Seamus brought her to me, he said the mother didn't want her. I knew she was his, and I believed him. She became mine, too. I wanted no difference made between you all, so I never said anything otherwise. Please believe me."

Jake looked at his wife. 

"How come you've never shared that information with me?"

"It just never seemed important enough to say anything. Rosie was my child in every sense of the word that mattered to me. It broke my heart when she left a few years ago and we never heard from her."

Arlissa sat there, wondering how they were going to receive her into the family...or if they even were. 

Zeb turned to her again, and asked, "You never suspected that we were related to you? Did you know that our Pa was your father, too?"

"No, my Granny never let on. She promised my Ma on her deathbed that she'd never tell me that your Pa was mine. My Ma didn't want me to know. I don't know why. Maybe it was because she found out he had married since they broke up. There is so very much I still am not sure of." 

The suspense of whether they were going to welcome her into their family was beginning to wear on her nerves. So far they had not been making any overtures of being glad. 

Should she just leave and let them discuss the whole thing? Common sense was telling her not to hang around any longer.

"Well, I just wanted you all to know. Er...ah..."

(To be continued)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Arlissa - Day 204 -207

As she left her Granny's room, Arlissa was thanking God for the healing in the rift between herself and the old woman who had loved her so dearly through all the years. She also was feeling grateful for the continued healing of her Granny's body. 

"Lord, I'm so glad you are returning her speech to her. I know that You are the one who made our bodies, and the only one who can truly heal them. Thank you so very much. I saw the walker sitting by her bedside and realized it means she is getting back some of the use of her legs. My heart is just overflowing, Heavenly Father! You are so wonderful to us. I know you've been with me through all these years, keeping me safe. Thank you!"

Her eyes filled with tears of joy, and she almost ran into Bobby Joe.

"Whoa! Whoa! What's going on here, anyway? What's wrong? Is Granny worse?"

Arlissa looked up and smiled through her tears, as he grasped both her arms.

"Oh, no! Those are happy tears! I've just been thanking God for His taking care of me all these years and healing Granny. I was just getting to thanking Him for me finding my family."

"What do you mean?"

He stood back, looking at her. Then began to grin.

"You mean you really are kin to that rascal, Zeb, my buddy? And all of them O'Hanlons?"

She nodded her head, and grinned back at him. 

"Well, whadda ya know about that? I always wondered if there couldn't be some connection."

"I'm on my way over to see the family now. What are you doing here?"

"Kinda hoping I'd run into you, but didn't know it'd be literally. I was just out this way and thought maybe you'd like to go down to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee with me. I've got a few minutes, before I have to get back to chasing the bad guys." 

He smiled down at her.

"Yeah, like chasing poor little women following their grandma to the hospital?"

He stood there, holding his helmet in his hands.

"Say, you ever ride on a motorcycle?"

She looked up into his face. 

"Hmmm. Isn't it against some kind of rules for me to be riding your motorcycle? You are offering to take me for a ride, aren't you?"

"Well...uh, maybe I was just joking." 

He was back-tracking from the implied suggestion.

She smiled. 

"I really have to go. I'll be at the Tunstalls with family, if you want to stop by later after work."

She left him standing there, open-mouthed, gazing after her. Was that an invitation for a date later on that day? He wondered.

He turned and went into Granny's room, and found her wiping her eyes, lying back in bed with a smile on her face.

"Hey, Mrs. Hinton! I just saw Arlissa out in the hallway. She was wiping her eyes, too. You all okay?"

"Very okay!"

"Say, I really like your granddaughter, ma'am. I kinda got designs on her. I think she maybe likes me some, too. I'm gonna see her as much as she'll let me. I want you to know I was in some trouble when I was much younger, but I straightened up, thanks to my uncle and Zeb. He led me to the Lord back about a year ago. I don't want you to worry none about my being the right kind of fella for Arlissa."

"Thank you. Good."

She took his hand in her two hands and smiled. 

"My blessings." She told him. "Now up to you two. Our secret."

Arlissa realized she would possibly have to tell her new family about the passing of their Aunt Savannah. She began to wonder if any of them knew their aunt. Perhaps she had been estranged from them. 

It seemed she was going to be the bearer of quite a bit of news for them.

As she drove, the windshield wipers seemed to be swishing out a rhythm to her.

Fam-i-ly; fam-i-ly, go-ing- to - see, my - fam-i-ly.
Fam-i-ly; fam-i-ly, go-ing- to - see, my - fam-i-ly.

She smiled and sang in her heart the words of the rhythm.

"How will they receive me? What will they say? Will they be glad or think I'm just trying to get something from them? What about Mrs. Tunstall? Is she really ready for me to claim kinship to her kids and family?" 

Then she thought back to when Helen had loaned her the album. Yes...she would be okay with it, surely. 

'She is after all, the one who opened the door for me,' thought Arlissa. 

"Well, I'll know in a few minutes." She told herself.

"Fam-i-ly, fam-i-ly, go-ing-to-see, my-fam-i-ly!"

Nervously, she opened the car door and closed it gently, with the album and rosewood box in her right arm. She had wrapped the two items in an old paper bag, hoping to keep them dry.

Running through the gentle raindrops, she made the front porch in just seconds.

She rapped hesitantly on the front door; it was opened by Marie, who seemed surprised to see her.

"Oh, hey, 'Lissa! What brings you out this way?"

"Well, I have some news that I want to share with you all. Is everyone here?"

"Yes, they're all in the kitchen, gathered around the table. We were just discussing what we need to do in the next few days, but we have time for you. Come on in!"

Zeb had headed into the living room to see who was at the door, so he was not far behind Marie.

"What news? What's happened?"

"Well, quite a few things, as a matter of fact. I have three news items to share with you, some good, I think, some bad."

She looked around at each of the people assembled there, with different emotions than she had ever before experienced. This was family! Brothers, sisters, at last! Her eyes filled with tears, and in her heart, she knew, at last, what it felt like to have that empty place filled.

"Why don't you join us at the table? Angie, pull her up a chair!"

All eyes were focused on Arlissa now, as they waited to hear what she had to say to them.

Clearing her throat, she asked if they had heard about the wrecking of the car Donelli was driving. They all nodded in the affirmative.

"Well, his parents showed up at the Sheriff's house this morning."

"Already? That was fast! How did they get here so soon?"

"He has his own plane, so they flew. He was quite arrogant when they came to the house. Wanted to know all about the accident and when they could have his remains."

"Then what?" Zeb wanted to know.

"We calmed them down and they were much changed when they left the house and went to Hanson's to claim the body. The second bit of news is very sad, too. Our Aunt Savannah is gone. She passed away during the night. I'm so sorry."

"Aunt Savannah? Who is she?" Lester inquired.

"Wait a minute! Just wait a minute! What was that you just said? Our Aunt Savannah? What do you mean, 'our'"?

(To be continued)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Arlissa - Day 191 -203

The next morning, Arlissa awakened to the sound of rain dripping from the eaves outside her window. She almost despaired as she lay there, listening. So much to do, why rain?

It seemed to her then, that maybe it would just be better to go back to sleep for a while. There was no aroma of food cooking, coming from the kitchen. What time was it anyhow?

She looked over at the little ticking clock on her nightstand. 4:30, it read. She looked over at the couch, where Sarah lay, snoring gently.

Then Arlissa realized how very blessed she was, too much so to be a little down over hearing it rain.

"At least, I can hear the rain. I know there are people who have never heard or seen it raining. Forgive  me, Lord, for being so ungrateful! Sometimes I take so much for granted, I fail to appreciate my blessings! And having friends who have helped us through our hard times can't be overlooked, either. Maybe I haven't had the benefit of knowing who all I was kin to, but, God, you've been with me and .Granny all the way! Thank you, Lord!"

She lay there, feeling so very blessed, drifting back to sleep, only to awaken a couple of hours later to the sound of the telephone. She also smelled the bacon frying in the kitchen. Sarah's bedding was no longer evident on the couch.

Within a couple of minutes, Arlissa came into the living room to hear Sheriff Bradshaw saying,  "What? They're here? Already?  How did they get here so fast, Billy?"

There was a pause on the Sheriff's part.

"Ah! Their own private plane?  I see. Well, you tell them that I'll be in to see them in about an hour. I haven't even had my morning coffee yet, or much less - my breakfast. Tell them where the diner is, and I guess they'll need a place to stay. Tell them  about the bed and breakfast, too, where their son stayed. I reckon if it was good enough for him, it should suit them okay. See you in a bit. Confound it all!" The sheriff muttered to himself as he hung up the phone.

"Trouble, Sheriff?"

"Ah, don't worry! Ain't nothin' I can't take care of. Let's go get us some breakfast. I could eat a horse!"

"Well, I'm sure Sarah has something better than a horse for us!"

"Don't knock it! Horse meat was sometimes eaten in the past. It ain't too bad. Kinda sweet, in fact."

Arlissa looked askance at her host, so he said no more, knowing what a soft spot she had in her heart for animals.

"Well, that was the Billy Newman, at the office, calling. He told me the Donellis are already here; came in by private airplane and drove over from Frankfort. Seems they wasted no time getting here."

"Apparently no expense, either, Woody!" replied Sarah, from the stove, where she was preparing breakfast. "Seems they are gonna be trouble for you."

"Hmm. Maybe not. Could be they're just anxious to get their son's body back home and buried."

"I feel sorry for them, having to bury their son that way. Can't help wondering what they're like, though, and if they'll make trouble for us keeping little Benny."

"Guess we'll find out soon enough, cause they're bound and determined to see me as soon as I get to the office. Billy'll no doubt tell them that what's left of the remains are in Hanson's Funeral Home. Didn't see any need in doing an autopsy, since we all know what a hurry he was in when he left the office yesterday afternoon. I'm having Mr. Hanson, Sr., do a thorough job of checking the body over, though."

"Sheriff..." Sarah interrupted him and nodded toward Arlissa, who was beginning to turn a bit pale.

"Oh, yeah. I forget sometimes. Tell me again, Arlissa, what it is you've planned for today? You said you want to go out to see the Tunstalls and the O'Hanlons?"

"Yes,  but first I want to go see Granny and my Aunt Savannah. Then I want to return the album and ask about the letter. Of course, I know that my grandparents are gone, but Ellen may be able to shed some light on the letter." 

"Well, that sounds like a good plan!" He smiled at her, encouragingly.

Sarah announced breakfast was ready, and just after Woody asked the blessing, the doorbell rang, followed by a knock on the door.

"Don't worry, Woody. I'll get this one," stated Sarah firmly. "You just sit here and dig into that good breakfast I just finished fixing. You're gonna need all the energy you can get today, in my opinion!"

Woody just smiled and said, "Okay, Miss Boss!"

Sarah headed for the front door and when she opened it, saw two well-dressed strangers standing on the porch, looking very out of place.  The woman was short and round, with eyes that had been reddened by much weeping, it seemed. 

The man standing beside her was just the opposite: tall, distinguished-looking with a hard expression in the eyes. 

"Madam, I understand that this is where the County Sheriff resides. Is that correct? If so, we need to see him, at once! See to it, please. May we enter?"

So saying, he pushed past her and stepping across the threshold, he entered the living room and saw the kitchen doorway across the room.

"Now, wait just a minute! Who are you? Where are you going? You have no right to enter the Sheriff's house this way! You haven't been invited in!"

When Sheriff Woody Bradshaw heard the commotion, he stood up abruptly, dropping the napkin from his knee where he had placed it, and went into the living room.

"Here, here!! What's going on in here, Sarah?" 

Arlissa, still holding her table napkin, followed right behind Woody, her eyes big and worried.

"Well, it seems we have some privileged visitors, Woody. Folks, why don't you come on in and have a bite of breakfast with us? Here in the country, we don't stand on ceremony."

All at once, the wind seemed to be let out of the stranger's sails, and he realized that he had behaved inappropriately. 

"I'm sorry, Sheriff! All we've been able to think about is the fact that our only son is lying dead. We weren't even sure where he had gone when he left Philadelphia several days ago. Please, could we see him?"

"Sir, Mr. Donelli, you don't really want to see him, the way he looks now. I can assure you, however, we have identified him as your son. Come on in and have some coffee, at least."

All this time, the young man's mother had not spoken, but stood there, looking very tired and as if she could faint at any minute.

Arlissa took the old lady by the elbow and guided her into the kitchen to a chair.

"Would you like a cup of coffee or tea," Arlissa asked her.

"Some tea would be wonderful, thank you. You are very kind to an old lady," she said quietly to the girl.

"You look very familiar to me! Have I seen you anywhere before?" 

"I don't think so! I've never been to Pennsylvania. In fact, I've never been anywhere away from here."

Arlissa put the tea kettle on the stove and began heating the water. While it was heating, she got a teapot and cup, added a tea bag to the teapot, and sat quietly with Mrs. Donelli.

"I'm so sorry for your loss, Ma'am. It must be very difficult to raise a son, only to have him die so violently and so young. How old was he, if I may ask?"

"Thank you, Miss ...?"

"Oh, you can just call me Arlissa. I was only barely acquainted with your son. "

"He was thirty- five, just in the prime of life. We hadn't seen him for three years, since he and his father had a big argument over the family business and other matters. He..."

Just then the tea kettle's whistle cut off her statement, and her husband came into the kitchen with the Sheriff, as well.

"Fiona, we need to be going."

"But, we were going to have a cup of tea, Benito! See, it is all ready to pour. Please?"

He looked down at his wife, seeming to realize for the first time how very hard the past twenty-four hours had been for her, the mother of his son.

"Of course, Cara Mia! Forgive me. I'll have one with you. "

Arlissa got a cup and saucer for him as well.

Then he took another look at her.

"Are you the young woman I heard about my son living with last year?"

"No sir, I'm not. I only saw him a couple of times. "

"Well, you sure match the description I got. It can't be a coincidence ! Do you happen to know why he was here in this town in the middle of nowhere? "

At this, Sheriff Bradshaw spoke up.

"Mr. Donelli, he came here and attended the funeral of the woman he had lived with. She came back home for a visit, and passed away soon after. I believe he was on his way out of town when he took a curve too fast and crashed his car. It went over the edge and crashed, catching on fire. I'm very sorry.
His remains are at Hanson's Funeral Home, and will be released to you when you go and fill out the proper papers. Again, we're very sorry for your loss."

"Thank you. You've all been very kind. We'll be going now. Come, Fiona."

The couple left the Sheriff's home with a very different attitude than the one with which  they arrived.

Sarah looked at Woody with great admiration in the way he had handled the situation.

"Arlissa is the one who turned the tide, by her kindness to Mrs. Donelli," stated the Sheriff.

"Was it intentional that you failed to mention little Benny?" Sarah inquired of Woody.

"Well, yes, since he didn't mention the boy, I figured we didn't need to muddy the waters any more. The child is going to be raised by his aunt and uncle, isn't he?"

"Yes, that's what we decided, for the sake of his stability," replied Arlissa. He will have lots of family, with the whole O'Hanlon bunch.

"Shall we finish our breakfast now?"

"Yes, Sarah. We had just begun when the Donellis came. How about heating up that coffee pot? Arlissa, did I understand you to say you were going to see Savannah today? Maybe you'll be able to talk to her. She was in a bad way when she was found outside the diner in the alleyway, where she was beaten. There was a witness to the beating; otherwise I would never have known it was Donelli that beat her. It seems he used brass knuckles to do the beating. "

He shook his head in disgust.

"Well, he certainly got his back, in spades," observed Sarah.

"Yes, sin never goes unpaid," at least that's what my Granny always says.

"I reckon that's true," observed the sheriff. 

The three ate their breakfast and didn't spend much time lingering at the table, because there was so much to do.

Arlissa was soon on her way to the hospital with the photograph album and the rosewood box belonging to Granny.

When she arrived at the room where she had last seen Savannah, she was surprised to see the bed was empty and stripped of bedclothing.

"What happened to Savannah O'Hanlon?" she enquired of the woman who was cleaning the floor.

"Oh, you mean the lady that was in this bed last night? I don't know. I was told to strip the bed and clean the room when I got here this morning." 

Arlissa ran over to the nurses' station. 

"What happened to Savannah? Where is she?"

"I'm sorry. Was she a friend of yours?"

"Yes, yes, I mean, she's my aunt. Can you tell me where she is?"

"Ma'am, I hate to tell you, but she passed away around midnight last night. Her injuries were just too extensive. Poor thing was in so much pain, even with the medications."

"Was anyone with her?"

"No, I'm afraid not. The doctor came soon after midnight and pronounced her gone. Hanson's left with her remains about two this morning. I'm so sorry for your loss, my dear."

"Thank you."

Arlissa sat down in one of the chairs to think. An old adage came to her memory. Granny always said that deaths came in  threes.

Beginning with Rose, then continuing with Donelli, and ending with Savannah, there had been three recent deaths connected with her family. 

"I hope that's it, Lord..." Arlissa whispered. 

She stood up and headed for the hallway and bank of elevators. She needed to see her grandmother. They had some things to talk over.

Upon arrival at Granny's room, she was pleasantly surprised to see her grandmother sitting in a chair, clumsily feeding herself with her right hand. Moreover, most of the food was making it to her mouth. Near the side of Granny was a walker.

"Granny! You're feeding yourself with your right hand! When did you start doing that?"

"Prac'sin." The old lady looked up at her.

"Oh, Granny! Good for you! You're doing so good! I'm right proud of you!"

She hugged Granny and kissed her cheek.

"G'wan." She shrugged as though it were nothing, but the half-smile plastered on her face said it all. Arlissa knew the old lady considered pride to be a downfall.

"I brought your box to you, Granny. Just like you asked me to. I haven't looked inside it, even though I've often been tempted to."

"Open." Granny urged her.

"Are you sure?"

Granny nodded her head, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

The young woman lifted the lid and smelled the faint scent of roses. She looked inside and saw several pieces of paper folded together. There were also two envelopes, both addressed to Granny. 

"Take out, read."

As she removed the papers, she noticed there were some photographs in the box as well as two pressed roses, which were dried and dark.

Gently, she picked up the roses and looked at Granny with a question in her eyes.

"Funerals. Ellie's. Grandpa's."

She smelled the roses, which now had very little scent left in them.

Picking up the pictures then, she saw they, too, were faded. 

"My Ma?"

The old lady had tears gently sliding down her wrinkled cheeks. She nodded. 

"I've never seen these before. This is when she was a little girl, and in this one, she is a young woman, standing next to a man. Who is the man? Is it my Pa? Where did this one come from?"

The old woman nodded.

"S'vanna took. Gave it when..."

"When my Ma died?"

She nodded once more, still weeping.

Arlissa opened one of the envelopes, removing the letter inside. Unfolding it, she saw it had been much read, from the way it was creased and refolded. The words were faded, and some she could see where teardrops had smeared some of the words.

To my baby,

In my heart, I know you are going to be a girl. I have some things I want to say to you. When the time is right, you will have this letter of love in your hands. It is up to circumstance as to when that will be. 

Since I am not equipped with a crystal ball, I don't know what life holds for you, I do know you will have love, for my Ma and Pa have plenty to share with you. They will be exactly who you need.

Your Pa is married to someone else now, and I regret doing that to you, but I will never regret having you. I don't believe, somehow, that I will live very much past your birth, because I can feel my strength fading with the passing of each day. 

Your name is to be Arlissa. It means powerful and complete. But make no mistake, we are never complete without God. You will be able to accomplish things, if you place your trust in God. He has helped me through these past few months, and I know He will always be there for you.

Always believe in goodness.

I love you, my little Arlissa.
Be good and I will see you someday.

Eleanor Hinton

Upon finishing the letter, she was smiling through the tears.

"Thank you, Granny, for raising such a good person as my Mama was. I know she made mistakes, but I'm so very glad she had me and Rose. She never knew about Rose, did she?"

The old lady shook her head.

"Thought she died. I did, too, til later."

"When? When did you find out?"


"Rose visit'n Martha. On street in town with her Pa. Knew then."

"Did you say anything to him?"

"Almost. He looked at you, then Rose. Both knew then."

"You're saying you both knew then?"

Granny nodded.

"What happened then? What did you do?"

"Went home. Prayed."

 "What did he do? Anything?"

"Other letter."

Arlissa picked up the second letter, unfolding it cautiously, wondering what it could possibly hold for her.

"Dear Mrs. Hinton,

Seamus told me about seeing you and Arlissa on the street. He said the two girls looked at each other and reached out their hands. He thought it strange that you would have a child that looked enough like Rose to be her twin.

I know that he came to see you later and wanted to take Arlissa with him, but you refused and told him that Arlissa was not his. He said you told him that she was a year younger than Rose, but of course, he didn't believe you. I never betrayed your confidence in me. I know that he wrote a letter to our mother later on, telling her the truth of what he believed. He wanted her to do anything she could to help you all. 

My mother was not a kind woman always. She resented Eleanor and blamed her for Seamus' running off and joining the army. He would have been eventually drafted anyway, but she was obstinate in her hating. She is not always kind to Rose, either. I have seen her mistreat the child.

When I came to bring you to Ellie, you were so upset, I'm sure you didn't notice that the midwife was Hetty McReynolds, Doc's wife. As you most likely know, she often helped out when Doc was busy on another case. Someone had suffered a heart attack and so when I got there, Hetty was attending Ellie, and Rose had just been born. 

We knew another baby was on it's way to being born and Ellie was out of her head with pain. It so happened that Seamus was home on furlough and I knew it. I called him and told him that Ellie was dying and she had just given birth to a baby girl. The baby had our color hair and eyes.

'Let me  have her, please. Helen and I will raise her as our own. I know she has to be my baby. You don't have to tell anyone.'

He just showed up at the cottage and demanded to see the baby. Ellie never knew he was there. She heard his voice and thought he was the doctor.

When he saw Rose, he said, "She's mine! I'm taking her." Hetty looked on in amazement, and I knew she was storing up the knowledge to maybe use later. We swore her to secrecy, and Seamus took Rose away. 

Soon after he left, Ellie roused and we told her the baby she had just birthed had died, and to concentrate on having the other one. Doc came about that time and the next few hours were spent delivering Arlissa. I left to get you and bring you to Ellie and her baby girl, Arlissa. We knew Ellie could not live much longer because Doc couldn't get the bleeding to stop. 

Please forgive me for my part in the whole deception. Ellie was the one true friend I have ever had. I miss her awfully bad.

Savannah O'Hanlon" 

"So," Arlissa reflected, looking up at Granny, after reading Savannah's letter.

"A lot of people have been aware for years of this whole thing, this secret, and never once said anything, or let on, in any way, about my kinship to the O'Hanlons. I could have had brothers and sisters for real, instead of the imaginary ones I made up to play with. Aunts and uncles, maybe, too."

Her eyes glittered with tears, as she looked, with a mixture of love and regret, into the wrinkled face of her grandmother, who sat there expectantly.

She turned away, walking to the window, still holding the letters in her hand.

The rosewood box lay on the chair, where she had placed it.

There was a deafening silence in the room, as the young woman gazed, unseeing, out the window.

In her mind, however, she was seeing the past, as it might have been.

What had Rosie told her about their other grandma? Would she have treated her the same as she had Rosie, shutting her in the cellar? Would Seamus have loved Rosie and beaten Arlissa, the same as he had his sons?

Perhaps the decisions that were made had been best. She would never know. She did, however, know it was now best to forgive all those who had taken part in the deception, and move on with life.

Arlissa walked over to her beloved Grandmother, wrapped the little old lady in her arms, and kissed her.

"I love you, Granny. I could never stay upset with you for doing what you believed was best for me. In light of everything that I know, you did what was right. I completely and forever forgive you."

"Thank you, Arlissy, heavy burden gone."

Arlissa placed the two letters in the box and unfolded the other piece of paper from the box.

Arlissa's eyes widened as she read the certificate of birth. 

"According to this, I was born on September 4, 1942; the second child born to Eleanor May Hinton and Seamus O'Hanlon. I was 5 lb., 2 oz. and 19 inches long. My father was a farmer and my mother was not employed. Registered by Doctor Henry McReynolds."

Looking into the box, she saw another document and thought, 
'now what?'

Unfolding it, she saw it was a death certificate for Eleanor May Hinton. dated September 5, 1942.

"Now you know all." Granny spoke quietly, head bowed.

"Yes, Granny. Now, I need to go see the rest of my family. We have a lot to talk about and I don't know for sure how it will all be received. But I guess maybe I'll find out...huh?"

She gathered up the things she had brought with her, and kissed her grandmother tenderly once again on the cheek.

"I'll see you later, Granny. I love you!"

"Love you, too, girl."

(To be continued)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Flu bug.

Dear readers. I've had the flu for the past six days. Trying to recover from it. I'll be back soon, God willing. Love, Ruby.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Arlissa - Day 176 -190

Dear Sister,

Yes, I know that I'm not your real sister, but ever since we met, so long ago, I have felt a connection to you that I can't explain. You know how we used to know exactly what the other was going to say. 

Anyway, I've always felt I was not really a part of my family. I've searched through all the important papers that my mom has put back, and I've never found my birth certificate. Oh, I've found all the others, so it just confirmed my not belonging. 

So I've decided that you can be my true sister. Because of this, I want you to raise my little Benny as your own. The other paper with this one is his official birth certificate. I want him to know he is loved for himself and not for who was his Mama and Daddy. I hope you will do this for both me and Benny. 

Love, your Kindred Spirit, 
Martha Rose O'Hanlon"

"Now what do I do? I've already given over custody to Mrs. Tunstall." Alyssa was in a quandary. "I guess I should show these to her and Mr. Tunstall and see what they have to say." 

She sat down in the chair at Mildred's desk and bowed her head to ask for guidance. This was going to affect the futures of many people and only God knew what the best course was to be taken. 

"Dear Heavenly Father, here I come again with more questions than I have answers for. Please tell me what I should do. Amen."

Leaning back in Mildred's chair, she closed her eyes, remembering...

" 'Lissa, did you know that my Granny locked me in the cellar when I was only a few years old? I had wet the bed or some such thing, and she was 'teaching me a lesson'. There were rats crawling around down there and she left the lights off. My dad was up in Pennsylvania, taking care of Mom. Mom had some kind of illness that was catching. He thought I'd be better off down here. My granny came up and got me, I think. It's been so long ago."

"Oh, no! Did you tell your ma or your pa what she did?"

"No, I was afraid to. I was afraid they'd not believe me. I still have nightmares about that and sometimes have to sleep with the light on."

"You poor girl! I remember when your granny died! That's when we met."

"Yeah, you were so shy, and I was so surprised to see somebody who looked so much like us living out here. Are you sure you're not akin to us?"

"No, I'm not sure of anything about my relatives. I'm embarrassed to say, I don't know who my pa is. Nobody'll tell me."

"Then we can pretend we're sisters. Do you like to read?"

"Yes, I spend a lot of time reading, when I get the chance."

"Have you ever read that story about the two girls that became friends and lived up in Canada somewhere, and said they were kindred spirits?"

"Oh, yeah, I have!"

"Well, we can say we're kindred spirits then, can't we?"

It was just a snatch of conversation, but Arlissa remembered it just like it had been yesterday. 

She wiped the moisture from her eyes. She had to do right by her twin sister; she just had to. But what was the right thing to do for the boy? That was the question.

"I need to talk to Savannah - that's the next thing to do, before I even see Helen Tunstall."

Arlissa remembered Rosie telling her how much she envied 'Lissa having the sweet granny she did.

"Well, she was a mama to me as well as a granny," 'Lissa had replied.

"Sometimes I think about my daddy and how he would beat Zeb and Mama. He would come in after drinking all afternoon after work. He never beat me, though. I never could figure out except maybe he loved me more than them. I don't know why that was, either. He called me his little Rosie-love. When he died, my whole world turned upside down and me and Mama just quit talking except for her arguing at me. She had to go to work, and I had to do stuff I didn't have to do before."

"What did you have to do?"

"Had to start doing the wash and cleaning the house, taking care of my younger brothers and sister. Life was no fun anymore."

"Oh..." I had wondered what was so bad about that. I had always been responsible for a lot of those things with Granny. Just didn't have to take care of brothers and sisters, cause I didn't have any. I remember thinking that I'd have loved to have some. 

Rosie had felt the sisterhood link that we shared, just as I had. I wondered if she realized it now that she was not with us any more. I felt great sorrow that she had not died a Christian. I would never see her again. 

I wept again in sorrow for both our losses. 

Soon, Billy's cousin arrived with my car. 

"Hey, you must be the gorgeous girl old Billy was talking about," he exclaimed when he entered the Sheriff's office.

 "Keep your eyes offa her, cousin!" said Billy, walking out of the Sheriff's office. 

"Aw, keep your stuffed shirt on, Billy! I ain't doin' no harm to her! Here's your key, honey bunch! You need to bring that car in and let me tune it up for you. It's running real rough, no joking." He smiled ingratiatingly at Arlissa, and despite herself, she smiled back.

"Thank you, Mr. Williams. How much do I owe you?"

"No charge, except maybe a date to go to the Dixie Drive-in Movie on Saturday?"

"Back off, Cousin! I told ya, She's not for you. Anyway, she already has a fella. You've delivered the car, now she's going to be going."

"Bye, you all. Thank you both for all the help. I've got a lady I need to talk to, and an important decision to be making. "

She left them both standing, arguing with one another, and getting into her car, she headed for the hospital and her Aunt Savannah.

It felt good to be driving again. She hated having to rely on others to take her where she needed to go. She had always loved being independent. Probably got that from her Granny. She never saw anybody as independent as her Granny.

Within minutes, she was at the hospital, heading for the ICU. When she arrived at the desk, she was asked to sign in and tell what relation she was to the patient.

"I'm her niece," replied Arlissa. "Can she talk?"

"You may only stay for five minutes, and please don't excite her. She has been very badly beaten. She is in unit four."

Arlissa very quietly entered the unit and when she saw the lady lying in the bed, she saw that there were tubes running into her nose and arms. She wore bandages on her head, as well. Her eyes were surrounded by bruises that were varying shades of blue and purple. 

She slowly approached the bed and sat beside the woman. Reaching out, she softly lifted the limp hand and looked at it. There were callouses on the tips of the fingers. The index and middle fingers were stained yellow holding cigarettes.

The patient stirred and moaned. There would be no answers coming from her on that day. 

Arlissa stood and kissed the lady's forehead, and left quietly.

She stopped at the desk and left her phone number. 

"I'll be back tomorrow to visit her. If she awakens before then, please let her know that her niece, Arlissa Hinton, was here and that I'll be back. Also tell her that I said I was sorry."

Arlissa didn't want to worry her Granny with this latest news, and so she decided to just go home for the day. She had a lot to think about. The papers could wait awhile. 

It was getting late in the day, anyway and it had been a long one, to boot. 

The box would have to wait, as well. 

Never before had Arlissa felt so much at sixes and sevens. Where to go? What to do? Did she want to go back out to the farm before it was finished? Or maybe to see the Tunstalls/O'Hanlons? Or back to the Sheriff's house. She felt like a leaf fluttering in the wind, unsure of where she should be.

She decided she would just go to the Sheriff's and talk with Sarah. She was a very wise woman and was sure to know a lot of the history of the area. After all, all the clothing she owned was there at the Sheriff's home, and even if she did go back to the farm, she would need that.

Arriving soon at the Sheriff's, she was met at the door by Sarah.

"Oh, Sarah! I'm so glad to be back here. It has been such a haven for me! I really need to talk to you, if you have time."

"Why sure, Baby! What's got you in such a dither, anyway? Come on in here, while I finish making our supper. Give me just a minute to check on Mz. Bradbury. She's been having a rough day of it today. Poor lady is wasting away to nothing. I don't know how much longer she can last."

"I'll just come with you. Maybe I can be of some help to you, and get my mind off my own worries."

"Of course, I'd be glad to have your help. Uh, oh, I need to change her. This happens sometimes; if you don't want to stay and help me, that is okay. It is sometimes unpleasant."

"Nonsense. I'm no shrinking violet, Ms. Sarah. I'll be glad to help change her and the bed, as well."

They got busy and cleaned up the sweet lady in the bed, then put a clean gown on her. Sarah lifted her and put her into the chair near the bed for a few minutes. 

"If you would just stand by her and make sure she doesn't fall from the chair, I'll change the bed. It is much easier with her out of it, although I quite often change it with her in it."

"Hey, sweetness! Do you remember this lady?"

The woman looked closely at Arlissa. 

"Savannah! Where have you been? Why don't you ever come to see me?"

"I've been wanting to! Now, I'm here to visit!" Arlissa replied.

"You gonna marry that fella you've been going with? Is that where you've been? What's his name? Oh, I forget so much."

Arlissa floundered about for an answer, then replied, "Well, sure. Uh...Jimmy is his name."

Within minutes, they had the bed changed and the sweet woman was back in it. Sarah put pillows at her back and placed her on her side, to help prevent bed sores. 

"Would you tell me a story, Savannah?" asked Maggie Lou Bradshaw, the very sick lady who lay quietly in the bed.

Arlissa looking compassionately at her, replied, "Of course, I'd be happy to. What kind of story would you like to hear?"

"A true story, please. A happily ever after story."

Arlissa smiled. 

"Well, let me see, now. Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Arlissa, who wished to know who her father was. She had never seen him, but she knew he existed, because she was there. She lived with her Grandmother and Grandfather, because her mother passed away when she was born. Now, that may seem sad, but we never get to decide those things. She was happy with her grandparents and grew strong and learned lots of things. 

Arlissa had friends all around. One of her best friends was a girl named Rose who looked just like she did. They both had red hair and blue eyes the color of cornflowers. In fact they looked so much alike they could have been sisters. The two girls spent many happy hours together. She finally found out who her father was and discovered she and her friend were in fact sisters. She lived happily ever after."

"Thank you, Savannah! That was a good story. Now I can go to sleep, I think. Would you maybe sing to me, like you used to sing?"

"What song would you like to hear?"

"Mockingbird Hill. You remember that one, don't you?"

Fortunately, Arlissa did know that one, at least most of the words. However she decided to hum it and as she did, Maggie Lou drifted off to sleep.

Sarah wiped her eyes as she watched the tender exchange between the two women. Then she touched Arlissa's elbow and they quietly left the room.

"Come into the kitchen with me, Arlissa. I know it may be a bit early for supper, but we could have some hot tea and a couple of cookies. I have a feeling you really need to talk, right?"

"Yes! I really do. I have some questions that you might be able to answer, questions that need some answers." 

Arlissa sat while Sarah put the kettle on the old range and lit the flame.

"Now, fire away. I'm ready. I think you may want to know more about your parentage, but I need to know that I won't be stepping on anyone else's territory if I answer them. I can't tell you everything you want to know, perhaps, but I'll try."

"What can you tell me?"

"First, tell me what you know, if you will."

"Well, I know that I had a twin sister who was taken by Savannah O'Hanlon to her brother, Seamus O'Halloran, and they took me to Pennsylvania to his wife, and told her that my Ma had me and didn't want me. My Ma had me in the night soon after Rosie was born, and then Ma died the next day. I don't know if she told Savannah to take Rosie to our Pa, or if she was told Rosie was born dead. I believe she told Ma that my sister had died in birth."

"Maybe she felt like twins would be too much for your Grandma to handle. She might have known she was going to die. Quite often, people who are gravely ill somehow know when they are near death."

"I know that she asked Granny to put up a marker for her baby that supposedly died. She made Ma promise not to tell me who my Pa was or that I had had a twin. Why would she want to keep it from me? Why shouldn't I know?"

"We were told by your grandparents that your father had been killed in service, that your parents had been married secretly and then when your mother died in childbirth, it was easier to just raise you with the same last name as the grandparents. It seems your grandparents had to save your mother's reputation in some way."

"So, two lies were told, one to me, and one to the general public."

"Yes, but I believe those who were close to your family and the O'Hanlons knew the real story, most likely."

"But why wouldn't someone have told me?"

"Out of respect for you and your grandparents probably."

"I see. The big regret that I have is that all that time, I could have been told, after I met Rosie, that we were actually twins. I could actually have spent time knowing, then."

"Ah, yes, but then, think about the fallout from knowing this at that time! You were secure with your Granny and she was with a family who loved her. Be happy with knowing that you did get to spend as much time with her, as you did."

At the whistling of the kettle, Sarah got up and poured the water over the tea bags. Then she poured the tea in cups for each of them and placed the cookies before them.

Arlissa handed the letter to Sarah that Rosie had written

"Read this, please, and tell me what you think."

Sarah read closely and then reread it.

Handing it back to the young woman, Sarah, reflecting on the contents, gave an added opinion.

"I don't believe it could have made a lot of difference as for how you felt about each other. You two were at close as you could have been, maybe closer. When you know you are twin sisters in reality, there is almost always a feeling of competition. This letter speaks of friendship that goes beyond that. If you had known you were sisters for real, what would that have done to all the relationships in the two families? Would they have combined or competed?"

"Hmmm. I hadn't thought about that. But how do I approach the O'Hanlons now?"

"How do you want to approach them? As a sister? As a friend? Have you discussed this letter with them, or told them of your kinship?"

Arlissa picked up the cup and sipped the tea, thinking about Sarah's question.

 "I'm planning to meet with them tomorrow and then I guess I'll just tell them my story very simply and take it from there. Mrs. Tunstall already knows of mine and Rosie's kinship. In fact, she loaned me this photograph album."

Arlissa opened the album so that she and Sarah could look at the pictures.

"See, this is a photo of Savannah when she was about my Ma's age when Rosie and I were born. I can understand why Maggie Lou, in her mixed up mind, thinks I'm her. We do favor each other, don't we?"

"Yes, child, you do. I heard today, by way of the town grapevine, that Savannah is just barely hanging on, due to a beating from that trouble-making foreigner that came to town."

"I went to see her this afternoon; in fact, I just came from there. She is drifting in and out of consciousness, I believe. I can't think how she hung on long enough to tell the Sheriff what had happened. Maybe someone else told him. I don't know. I felt so very sorry for her. I know that she is the only real witness that can verify that Rose and I are, indeed, sisters, since she saw us born."

"Bless your heart, child! I'm sure no one can know what you've gone through in your lifetime."

"Oh, now, don't be feeling sorry for me, Miss Sarah! I've had a good life with people that love me. I'd never whine over that. Say, look at this picture of Rose when she was just a baby. It looks just like I did in a picture Granny has of me. No wonder my Pa wanted to take me home with him when I was three. He must have known then, or suspected that Rose had a twin. My Granny can be something fierce when she wants to be. He didn't stand a chance of getting me away from her and Grandpa."

Just then, Sheriff Bradshaw entered his home and came into the kitchen.

He flopped down into one of the kitchen chairs and wiped his forehead with his handkerchief.

"Oh, my! Oh, my! I've never seen anything like it," he uttered under his breath. "You got any fresh coffee, Sarah? I'm wiped out!"

"Why, whatever has happened, Woody?"

"Just got through working that wreck out on Dead Man's Curve between town and where you live."

"I remember you leaving to work on it. How did it happen?" 

"The dang fool went off the road and down the deep incline. He was driving a flashy convertible, with the top down, apparently. It seems he was thrown from the car and it landed on top of him. Blew up and burned him almost beyond recognition. Money was blowing all over the place."

"Oh, I'll bet it was Alberto Donelli, wasn't it? I remember seeing him in it one day," replied Arlissa.

"Yep. We found a bunch of drugs in the bag that he took with him. It got thrown out as well. There were only a couple of bundles of money still left in the bag. I guess that will belong to the little boy, since he is Donelli's."

"As his guardian, can I decide what should be done with that money?"

"Why, yes, I guess you could. What would you suggest, anyway?"

"I'd like to use it to pay for Savannah's hospitalization. After all, he is the one who put her there. It is only fitting that the money be used to help her. From what I can gather, she is down on her luck, anyway. Otherwise, I don't think she would have had anything to do with slime like him."

"Why don't you discuss it with the family, Arlissa?" 

This suggestion came from Sarah, who had been listening intently to the whole conversation. 

"Yes, I suppose that would be the best. Especially since I decided to let Zeb and Angie have custody of Benny. He does have the last name of O'Hanlon. But then, she was my twin sister. Oh, I don't know..."

"Well, I've got to notify Donelli's next of kin, if I can locate them. I know he comes from Philadelphia. I might as well go ahead and contact them now. Excuse me, Sarah and Arlissa."

He headed into the living room where he had some privacy to talk to law enforcement in Philadelphia. Then he went into the bedroom to check on Maggie Lou, and found her sleeping. He leaned down and kissed her brow.

Within a few minutes, he was back in the kitchen. 

"Ah...apparently, the Donellis wield quite a bit of influence in that town. They are a family of some importance, with their fingers in quite a few pies. The police are going to contact the father and mother in the next little while and I am to await further instructions about the body. I am sure some questions will be coming our way, but don't worry. I can handle anything they need to know."

"Do you think they are going to cause trouble, Woody?" Sarah was a natural worrier, especially where her friends were concerned.

"Nah! Nothing I can't handle. We did everything by the book."

"Do you think they'll try to get Benny away from us?" 

The thought had just occurred to Arlissa, and worried her. 

"Now, let's not borrow trouble, ladies! Just take things as they come!" 

He tried to assure both of them not to worry needlessly.

"Well, let's get some supper on the table! I'm afraid it's just leftovers from lunch today, but the roast was mighty good and I've still got some green beans and little roasted potatoes. I'll slice some fresh home-made bread and toast it. Arlissa, would you like to help me?"

"Sure, my Granny always said, 'Many hands make for light work.' I know it's true."

Within minutes they were all seated and the Sheriff bowed his head and gave thanks. 

"Sheriff Woody, I went by the hospital this afternoon to see Savannah, but she was in really bad shape. I didn't get to talk to her, but I'm aiming to go back tomorrow and see if she's any  better."

"That's a good idea, Arlissa. She needs friends right now, and understanding. I knew her way back when I was a new Sheriff. I watched her go downhill, getting into first one kind of trouble, then another. I knew all the O'Hanlons. I felt sorry for them. They had a tough row to hoe."

"Tell me more, Sheriff. Since they're my relatives, I'd like to know how many there were and who they were."

"Well, now, let me see... there was Seamus, the oldest..."

"He was my Pa," she interrupted.

Sheriff Bradshaw looked at Sarah, lifting his eyebrows.

Sarah just nodded in affirmation telling him that Arlissa knew the truth now, for sure.

He went on..."then there was Savannah, she came next; then there was Carolina, then Lloyd, who was a regular hellion,  next...ah, let me see...Nancy Jane (named after her Ma)...last came Bernice, named after her grandmother on her Mama's side of the family."

"Oh, my goodness! I've got lots of relatives, then, haven't I?"

"Well, you know, folks around here don't have right small families, at least back in the twenties and thirties, they didn't." This came from Sarah, with a chuckle.

"What happened to all of them, Sheriff?"

"Well, now, you know that Seamus was killed back in '56 or '57; Savannah - well, let's just say she got on the wrong side of the tracks for a while...they all left home as soon as they could, what with the kind of parents they had. The old man straightened out a few years before he died, thanks to Zeb's efforts helping him to see the light."

Arlissa spoke up then.

"I used to see Mrs. O'Hanlon some around town once in awhile when I was growing up. but didn't know her, really. She always had a sour look on her face, like she had been eating dill pickles or something. I was afraid of her. I know now she was my Grandma, and, somehow, now, I feel cheated of knowing that. Maybe it could have made a difference in both our lives, me knowing that."

Arlissa sat and thought for a couple of minutes, then the light dawned upon her.

"But, she knew, didn't she? And never said anything to anybody. She could have looked at me with a smile or something, couldn't she? Maybe said something to my Granny about how pretty I was and patted me on the head; or put her arm around me? She most usually just looked at me and then turned her head away." 

Sarah looked sympathetically at the young woman.

"Well, it was her loss, too, honey. Maybe she didn't want to stir up a hornet's nest. Who knows what goes through other people's minds? Goodness knows, she probably had enough problems to deal with on her own. From what I know, the old man really ruled the roost with an iron fist."

"Yeah, he was influential in town, too. He was head of the town council for quite a few years; I had to deal with him on a daily basis sometimes. Finally, he gave it up, after Seamus's kids came to live on the farm with their mother."

"Do you know where any of my aunts and uncles are now, Sheriff?"

"Not for sure; I think maybe most of them moved away. You probably have heaps of cousins, somewhere, though."

"Well, tomorrow, for sure, I'm planning on going in to see Savannah. At least, I know where she is. Then I need to go see Ellen and Jake Tunstall and all of them."

"I see you have a photograph album lying over there on the counter."

"Yes, maybe you could spend a little time with me and Sarah, and help me identify some of the people in it?"

 "Sure, when would you like to do that?" 

She took a good long look at him, his fatigue was clearly showing.

"Why don't we do it in the morning. I don't know about you, but it's been a long day today, and I'd say we'd feel more like doing the looking tomorrow, if you don't care."

He smiled knowingly at her, appreciating her thoughtfulness, but decided that the present time would be better.

"Well, if you don't mind, I'm kinda curious about the pictures. Could we take a few minutes right now, maybe?"

"Sure, Sheriff, and, Sarah, I'd like you to look, too, and maybe, since you've lived around here a long time, you'd know some of them. You said you knew Savannah."

The three of them gathered around the album.

"Now, this here is a picture of the old man and Martha Jane when they got married, I'd say," quipped Woody.

"Oh, my, look at those clothes they're wearing. That's back in the early 1900's," Sarah piped up. "Here under the picture is March 20, 1920." 

"Where? Oh, it's written on that little white space around the picture. Let's slip it out of the corners where it's mounted and look on the back."

They looked on the back of the photo and saw Sean and Martha Jane O'Hanlon written in fading letters, along with the date.

They found pictures of the couple's children as they were growing up, not so very many of after they were grown. There were a few of grandchildren, but not many. Apparently, the old lady was not a very sentimental soul.

Inside, near the back, they found some written pages that looked as though they had been unfolded and refolded many times. It was stuck in the margin of the album, as though it was either a treasure, long forgotten, or a missive that could not be tolerated, and hidden in order to forget.

"Look! A letter? Maybe a love letter? What do you think, Sarah? Sheriff? Should I read it? Would it be okay, since these are my relatives?"

"Well, most likely, Ellen Tunstall knows about every thing that is in the album, and she did loan it to you to look through," Sarah opined. 

"Sheriff?" He just shrugged his shoulders. "You might find out some more about your beginnings."

Arlissa tenuously unfolded the pieces of paper. It was a letter.

"Ma. I reckon you know that our Rose is my child, but not Ellen's by birthing. You remember when I brought Martha Rose down last year when Ellen was having such a hard time carrying Zeb? 

Did something happen while she was with you? She hasn't been sleeping good since I brought her back home. She's nervous all the time, too. 

Anyways, I wanted to ask a favor of you. I believe that Rose has a twin sister named Arlissa. Her grandparents are raising her, and having a hard time of it. I'm not making enough money to send any to them, but I know you are close by and can help them when they have needs.

As you most likely know, their Mama, Eleanor Hinton and I were planning on getting married. We had a big fight, and like a fool, I ran off and joined the army. I really loved that woman. I know we could have made a go of it, if she'd only listened to reason. 

I didn't know she was in the family way until Savannah showed up with little Rose. Savannah never said nothing about there being another baby. I would have taken both of them.

Please, go out of your way to be kind to the Hinton's. It's my fault that little Arlissa has no daddy to care for her. I did try to get custody of her last year. Show them love, Ma. I don't want a kid of mine growing up thinking that she didn't have a father who cared about her.

Your son, 

Arlissa held the letter close to her breast, while the tears rolled down her cheeks. 

"I just knew my father loved me. Somehow, I just knew he wouldn't have forgotten me."

"Never once did I get the idea that my Granny O'Hanlon cared anything about me. So far as I know, she never gave us anything or came to visit us. Was she ashamed of me?"

"Do you know for certain that she never came to see you? Maybe back before you have any memories to rely on?"

"Oh, I don't know! I've got to ask Granny. Seems like the more I learn the more questions I have. Would I be better off, just saying, 'Oh, well, I just need to go on from here and let the past be the past!'?" 

"Well, now, Sweetie, that's up to you. Maybe you need to consider it. I don't have any dog in this fight. I just would like to see you happy, as I'm sure your Granny would as well."

"I need to get to bed in a bit. I have a big day tomorrow, I'm sure. Today has been a long one. I've got to go see my O'Hanlon family, and Granny, and also Savannah. I'm sure Zeb and Angie are wanting to be heading back to Tennessee. They'll most likely be taking little Benny back with them."

Just then the phone rang and the three looked at it as though it was a snake, ready to bite one of them. Usually when the phone rang that late around there, it was not good news.

"Relax, ladies... I'll get it. You know I'm always getting calls that don't necessarily mean bad news."

"Hello...Oh, yes, this is Sheriff Bradshaw. No, no, that's okay. I hadn't gone to bed yet. In fact, I've been waiting to hear from you, Mr. Donatelli."

The sheriff lifted his eyebrows and looked at the two women. 

"Just a moment, let me go into the other room."

Sheriff Bradshaw laid down the phone and indicated silently for them to hang it up when he got into the living room.

"He doesn't like to discuss business in front of us. That way he can keep his sheriffing separate from his home life.   

 "Ah, I see. Very smart!"

"Yes, that's how he's kept the job for so long. Being smart. Besides the fact, that he's good at it."

Within a few minutes, Woody was back in the kitchen with the two women. 

"Well, I need to get to bed, ladies. I'd say tomorrow is going to be a busy one. Lots of things to take care of. Thank you for all you do for my family, Sarah. I realize I don't say that often enough. You always go the extra mile."

He gave Sarah a friendly hug and tiredly headed for his and Maggie's bedroom.

Sarah wiped her eyes, and watched him go. 

"That man has a whole heap of worries on his shoulders, if he let it be. I know his faith is what keeps him on an even keel. He's a good man, Arlissa, with a kind heart. I don't know what he'll do when Maggie is gone."

Arlissa sat there lost in thought. Her mind was on a different track.

"Do you suppose the Donatellis will come here to see what happened with their son? Or just have the body shipped back to Pennsylvania? I'm sure they must have questions. I wonder what they're like..."

"Now, girl, don't you go looking for trouble. You hear?!! I'd say naturally, they'll want to have all the particulars, but maybe they're nothing like their son."

"Hmmm. I wouldn't count on it. Seems like he had to get that attitude of his from somewhere."