Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Arlissa - Her Story - Day 43 -54

Arlissa got ready to go see Granny and knew she needed to tell Granny about everything that had happened. Should she worry her with all that, she wondered. She didn't want to upset her Granny, but when Granny came home would be too late to tell her. Nothing but to do except just out with it right off, but maybe just kind of ease into it slowly. Yeah, that's what she would do...just ease into it. 

She walked out to the car and prayed the car would start. It was temperamental about starting and Arlissa never knew if it would give her trouble or not. She had no sooner put her foot on the starter pedal than she heard the sound of a motorcycle. 

Laying her head on the steering wheel, she gritted her teeth. Not that pesky Bobby Joe Odom! Not now! Arghh! No, here he came, right up to the car window...looking in and smiling.

"What do you want?"

"Well, now, Miss Arlissa, I just came by to see if you might need some help with starting your vehicle. Seems like I remember yesterday you havin' some trouble with the old gal."

"It's going to do just fine, smarty pants! Just listen..."

She turned on the ignition and to her dismay only heard the click, click of an inactive battery. Her face turned a beet red and she jumped out of the car ready to do battle with the only handy object of her anger standing before her with a smirk on his face. So she let go and smacked him right on the nose with her fist.

"Whoa! Hey, listen!" The object of her anger grabbed her fist and held on. "I had nothing to do with the fact your car won't start. Let's take a look at it, okay? I was only teasing you a bit. Reach in there and release the hood."

She did so and he raised the hood on the car. 

Leaning over the car works, he noted a lot of corrosion on the poles of the battery. 

"I think maybe I see the problem here. Let me just clean off these places and see if that doesn't help." 

Taking out his pocket knife, he opened the large blade and cleaned the poles of the battery, then reattached the wires.

"Okay, now get back in and see if she'll start. Just had no way to get the juice flowing in the battery cells."

She turned the key again and it gave a low growl, but nothing more.

"Hmmm. You need it to be jumped from another car battery. Once that's done, you can drive it long enough to get the charge built up. You got a neighbor that would come over and give it a charge? How about the O'Hanlons?"

"Ha! Not much chance of that this morning. Nope. Ain't gonna happen. Right now, they wouldn't give me air in a jug."

Bobby Joe smelled a story but he couldn't say anything, except to ask about other neighbors. 

"Wait a minute. I got an idea. I'll be back in a few minutes. Don't go anywhere."

She simply looked at him as if to say, "How in the world would I get anywhere now?"

He headed off on his motorcycle and left her sitting in her car.

Arlissa waited and as she did so, realized that Bobby Joe didn't know about his friend, Zeb's sister being dead. She knew she had to tell him before the morning got any later. She determined to tell him as soon as he returned.

Fifteen minutes later, here he came leading a fellow driving a truck. Arlissa took a good look at the truck and driver. As he driver got out of the truck, she could see he was a burly fellow with a gap-toothed smile, which he was displaying with good humor. Realizing she didn't even know that person, she looked at Trooper Odom with a querulous look on her face.

He smiled back at her confusion, and explained. 

"He was driving down the road and I stopped him to see if he could help you. First I asked if he had jumper cables, then if he had time to help a lady in distress. Fortunately, he was willing, he was about the fifth person I had stopped."

"Howdy, ma'am. I'm more than happy to help you get your car charged and started. I admit I never had an idee that I'd get such a strange request when I left home this morning. Just wait till I get home and tell the wife and kids what I got to do this morning. I never turn down the chance to be of help anytime. Now, how about you get back in your car and we'll get this hooked up and charge that battery and get you on your way."

"Thank you, sir! l really appreciate your help. Could I have your name, please?"

"Ahh. My name don't matter. Jist glad I could be of help."

After a few minutes, the car battery had received enough charge to keep running, and the man shook Bobby Joe's hand and tipped his cap to Arlissa, got into his truck and waving his hand, he drove away.

"Bobby Joe, I can't thank you  enough for what you just did. But, I do have something I need to tell you that happened during the night last night. I wouldn't want you to think I neglected to let you know."

"Really? What about?"

"It's about the neighbors, the O'Hanlons. Zeb's sister, Rosie, has been my friend for a long time, and she came over to visit me last night with her little boy, Benny. She took her own life last night and I found her this morning and...and..."

She had told all this in one breath so she could get it all out, but then she broke down and began crying all over again. In no time, Bobby Joe had gathered her into his arms, where she collapsed against his chest. He held her for a few minutes and then she pulled back.

"I'm sorry! I'm gettin' your nice uniform all wet."

"That's okay. You can get my uniform wet any time you like, but I hate to see you cry."

Wiping her eyes, she got into her car and said, "I really got to go. My Granny's goin' to be wonderin' what happened to me.  And I gotta drive this car while it's got a battery charge. Thank you for helpin' me. Seems like anytime I need some help, there you happen to be. The O'Hanlons might enjoy a visit from you, bein' Zeb's friend and all. Bye now."

As she pulled out into the road, she realized she hadn't told him the reason she couldn't call on the O'Hanlons for help. Well, no matter, he would find out soon enough when he went to visit them. Then he would probably turn against her, too. Or maybe be caught in the middle?

Time would tell, she reckoned; in the meantime, there was Granny to explain it all to. She wondered just how she was going to ease into it, like she hoped she could without really upsetting Granny. Would Granny be able to deal with a long drawn out lawsuit, being sick and all?

Pulling into the parking lot, she was glad to be there and that she had found a parking spot not too far from the entrance. Hurrying out of the car, she headed for the door and was soon on her way into the building.

When she reached the desk, she was sure her Granny must be in room of her own by now, so when she inquired, she found that to be true. 

"Your grandmother is in room 215 A. So far she doesn't have a roommate. We didn't have room in the ward, so she was put into a semi-private room. We have a lot of people with the influenza in the ward."

After thanking the nurse, she headed for the elevators. Of course, they would have put her Granny in the Ward, because of their financial condition, she realized. As she rode up, she stewed over the whole situation. What were they going to do? She sure didn't want Granny worrying, and now... more problems. Thank you, Rosie! Well, they would just deal with things as they came. God would help them, she had to believe.

Putting a smile on her face, she exited the elevator and found Room 215.

Pushing the door open, she saw her Granny sitting up in bed, having lunch.

"Where you been, girl? You talked to the sawbones yet, to see when I can get outta here? It's costing us money, every minute I'm in here! I can sit around in bed at home, if need be!"

Uh-oh! Granny was in a snit, and this was going to take quite a bit of sweet-talking and diplomacy. What tack to take to approach this attitude? Granny in a snit was not a pleasant thing to watch taking place.

"Now, Granny! If you really want outta here, ya gotta calm down and not cause trouble. Besides, I got somethin' I need to talk over with you."

Walking over, she shut the door as though she wanted privacy, and not have anyone to overhear what she was going to discuss with the old woman.

Well, that calmed Granny's tirade, because if Granny had any one attribute, it was an everlasting curiosity. A big smile split her face and she was soon all ears and no sass. She sat up and said, "Tell!"

"Well, you know Rosie O'Hanlon..."

Arlissa was going to draw it out as much as possible to pull her Granny into the story. 

"Yes, go on...what about Rosie? What's that foolish girl done now? Is she back home?"

"Now, just a minute, Granny! If I'm going to tell you about her, you gotta keep eatin', cause you need that food to get stronger."

"Okay, okay.. see, I'm eatin'. Yum! Now, go on!"

The girl continued with her story.

"Well, I went over to her house yesterday. She has a little boy now, named Benito, but she calls him Benny. His father is not married to Rosie, and apparently got her hooked on drugs while she was with him. She came home with me and brought Benny with her."

The old lady sat back against the bed. "Well, I never!"

"I know, Granny. It's hard to get ahold of, but apparently true."

Sitting up again, "Tell me more, child! What happened when she got to our place?"

"Granny, you keep eatin' now!" She watched as the old lady took another few bites. The food was slowly disappearing. Good. 

"Well, I had a good time playing with Benny and Rosie didn't do a lot more talking. We had a bit of supper and Benny had played so hard, he got sleepy and we put him to bed on my divanette in my bedroom. Then Rosie and I sat and talked awhile before she went out on the front porch for awhile."

"What'd she do that for? Kinda bad manners if you ask me..but then she always was kinda flighty and fidgety, even when you girls was a lot younger. And on drugs??? She's got no business raisin' a little boy! How old is that pore little tyke anyhow?"

That was the way Granny was - she would take off on a tangent when she was listening to someone tell something. Her curiosity was a thing to behold. Arlissa wondered if she would ever get to tell a story the way she intended. 

"He's almost three, I believe. But that's not what is important right now, Granny. You see...you see..."

Arlissa was having trouble going on with the story because the enormity of Rosie's passing was choking her up again, and the tears began to fall.

"Oh, Granny, Granny... Rosie's dead! And she wanted me to raise Benny."

Through her tears, she heard Granny gasp.

Arlissa knew Granny was most likely upset, but that was to be expected. So she didn't look for fear she would not be able to continue. 

"I know, Granny. It's not a good situation. You see, but I gotta finish tellin' it before I lose my nerve. It ain't gonna be easy with us tryin' to raise that little boy. When the Sheriff told them that Rosie gave me guardianship of Benny, they was really mad and he called me and told me to not come over right away. Now I know that the only way I'd have any right to legally raise him is the paper she wrote out, me not bein' kin to him or anything. She took her own life, Granny! Right there practically right in front of me and I didn't know it. There...that's what I wanted to tell you."

As she turned to look at her grandmother, Arlissa's eyes widened. She had never seen Granny looking like that. Or sounding that way. Granny was trying to talk to her, but all that was coming out was all like mixed up and she had spit running down one side of her mouth. Her eyes were open wider than Arlissa had ever seen them, except when Granny was really, really upset or alarmed. 

She ran for the nurse. 

"Oh, help, help, please. Somethin's wrong with my Granny! She can't talk. Hurry, hurry!" 

Arlissa was wringing her hands, agitated beyond measure. When she had gotten the attention of the nurses, one of them ran back with her to 215. 

"Look at her! What's wrong with her, nurse? Why is she like that?"

The nurse took one look and immediately began working with Granny. 

"Okay, just try to relax, Ms. Hinton. You've had a stroke; the doctor will be in soon to help. In the meantime, let's get you comfortable and lying down. We know you can't talk right now. Don't worry, your speech has been temporarily affected by the stroke. We're going to work to get it back. Okay? Let's calm down now. I'm going to bring you an aspirin, it will help."

She removed the tray cart which was over the bed and got the old lady settled in the bed. Ms. Hinton was still trying to talk and getting more agitated by the minute. 

Arlissa stood by, helpless to do anything except try to assure her Granny that she was going to be okay and not to worry about anything. 

"I'll take care of you, Granny! You're gonna be okay. I promise! Now let's jist get you better. The nurse'll be right back with an aspirin. If she says it'll help, then it will. Aspirins are medicine, ain't they?"

She knew she was prattling along, but right now, that was all she was able to do. She began to pray. She knew God was right there with them and would help them through this. 

"Oh, Lord, please jist be with us, and help us know what to do to help my Granny. You made us, Lord! You know our bodies even better than we do. You know us from even before the time we were made inside our mothers. You knew we were goin' to be, before we was. I'm trustin' You, Lord, to help my Granny to be better, if'n it's in Your Will to do so. Thank You, Lord. Amen."

She had spoken aloud and then she looked at her Granny, who looked much more peaceful and settled. She had heard the prayer and prayed with Arlissa. It was her Granny who had raised her and taught Arlissa about God's love and care for them. 

The prayer was the best thing Arlissa could have done as she spoke it aloud. Not only was she speaking to God, but Granny heard and responded in faith.

The nurse returned then and had Granny sit up and see if she could swallow a sip of water. She did swallow and so the nurse gave her the aspirin to chew. 

"Now, just chew slowly and then take another sip of water. The doctor will be in in just a while. He had an emergency surgery that he is taking care of right now."

Turning then to Arlissa, she said, "She is much calmer now. What happened?"

"I spoke to another Physician, and He is helping too." Arlissa smiled.

"You did? Where? How?"

"I can talk to Him anytime and any place. So can you, if you want to."

The truth began to dawn on the nurse. She lifted her eyebrows.

"Oh, Oh! Yes, yes. Good." 

She was clearly taken aback and seemed rather embarrassed. Hmmm. 

"Well, I'll send the doctor in as soon as he gets to our desk."

Arlissa had a lot to think about, and sat down by Granny when the nurse departed. She took Granny's hand, and spoke.

"Now, Granny, you're gonna be jist fine, so don't you worry none. Okay? We're gonna get through this, I jist know." 
She smiled reassuringly and patted the old lady's hand. Granny just looked at her, wondering if her time had come.

Arlissa looked at Granny's mouth which drooped on the left side. She learned later that apparently the right side of the brain was the one affected by the stroke, and that was where speech control was located. She was going to learn quite a bit about the effects of stroke in the days ahead.

She had to wonder how long her Granny had, and how she could care for both Benny and her Granny at the same time. Then there was her job, too. What would they do for money?

Arlissa was fussing over Granny when the doctor came in. 

"Well, Miss Arlissa, seems like your sweet Granny was in just the right place if she was going to have a stroke." He smiled at both the old lady and her granddaughter.

"Now, let's check you over, Ms. Hinton."

He gently picked up her hands, one at a time and had her try to press against his open hand, testing their strength. Then he did the same thing with her feet. 

"Well, it seems we are going to have some therapy to go through with you, sweet lady. But I think we can get you up and moving one of these days soon. It's going to take some work on your part and Miss Arlissa's as well, once we get you ready to go back home. You do want that, don't you?"

The old lady stared at him as though he were the most ignorant man she had ever seen. Of course, she wanted to go home. 

"We still have to keep an eye on the heart as well as tending to your physical movement. You must do exactly as we instruct you, Ms. Hinton. Understand?"

Again, she stared at him with what Arlissa called her stony look that seemed as though she were looking right into the soul and knew what you were thinking.

"Ah...I guess you do. Okay. We're going to get your heart regulated and then we'll begin the exercises a few at a time."

He believed in leveling as much as possible with his patients and Arlissa appreciated that.

"Well, I need to go right now, I do have a few other patients to see yet today. I'll be back later on. Goodbye, Ma'am, Miss Arlissa."

She followed him out into the hallway. 'Oh, no, one of those who always followed the doctor outside the room to see if he would tell them any more in private.' he thought to himself.

"Doctor, please...Is my Granny gonna be okay?"

"Now, Miss Hinton, er Arlissa, we're going to do everything we can to get her back on her feet, but with strokes and at her age and in the condition of her heart, especially so, there are no guarantees. I can't make any promises, except to say we are going to do our best. I'm sorry I can't tell you any more than that." 

If he had been wearing a hat, he probably would have tipped it to her before he left. He smiled again, and turned to go. 

Arlissa went back into the room, and found Granny looking resigned. She couldn't tell Arlissa what she was thinking; she tried, but it only came out sounding like nothing either of them had ever heard, so she just gave up and lay back on the pillow, exhausted, tears of frustration leaking from her eyes. Reaching up with her left hand, she wiped them away and shut her eyes, turning her head away from Arlissa.

"Oh, Granny, what am I going to do? What am I going to do?"

Granny opened her eyes and looked at her dear granddaughter. She brought her left hand up to her chin, lifted her eyes, looked at the ceiling, and closed her eyes, moving her mouth the best she could. Then she looked at Arlissa again, and pointed her left hand to the girl.

Arlissa looked puzzled. What did Granny mean? 

Then it came like a revelation. "You mean you want me to pray?"

The old lady gave her a one sided grin, and nodded her head.

Well, at least Granny could still think clearly. Arlissa bowed her head and began to talk to the Great Physician.

"Dear Lord," Arlissa prayed. "Please help me to know what to do. You know the problems that are ahead of me 'n Granny. I can't do nothin' without your help. I'm dependin' on you, Lord, to help us through the times ahead. I ain't got no money to speak of, and Granny's goin'  to need lots a' help and care. Please let me know what the best thing is for us to do; help us through these days stretchin' out ahead of us. Guide me, please, in knowin' what to do about little Benny. Please, Lord, jist work it out in your own way. Me 'n Granny is goin' to turn it all over to you right now, Lord. I'm gonna try not to worry over it any more. Thank you, Lord, for listenin' to me. Amen."

The girl looked over at her Granny, who smiled. Arlissa was holding Granny's right hand, and felt the slight movement in her hand. Did she dare hope that Granny was getting movement back into her right side? She knew that with God, anything is possible. 

She would just wait and see, with hope in her heart. She watched as Granny drifted off to sleep. Then she turned to leave, but first she leaned down and kissed her granny's soft cheek. 

"Bye, Granny! I'll be back soon," she whispered.

Just as she was leaving, the nurse came in with a bag of fluid to hook up to Granny. The doctor had determined that Granny was dehydrated. He had asked some questions earlier and found that she had not been drinking enough liquids at home. Many times strokes occur where the patient is lacking in fluids. It seemed God was already at work to get Granny on the road to recovery. 

Arlissa really didn't know any more than she did about what to do concerning young Master O'Hanlon, but she was going to go home and consider her options. She also needed to get Granny's room ready for her home coming, whenever that was going to be. 

"Let's see, now, I need to change Granny's sheets on her bed, and I need to dust the furniture and polish it up real good, and maybe wash the curtains in that room. Make it smell nice 'n all. Sweep the floors and mop 'em; see if she's got any laundry needs doin'. Oh, yeah, and I need to go to the drug store and talk to them about my work hours; see if I kin get off a little more'n usual without losin' my job there. So much to take care of."

She was walking with her head down and almost ran into a boy she had known in school. 

"Whoa! Watch it, Lissa! You purty near mowed me down. Whar you a runnin' off to? What chu doin' here, anyhow?" 

"Con Douglas! I didn't know you was workin' here! You been janitorin' long?"

"Oh, jist since my daddy died. I needed a job and somebody told me about this place needin' somebody, so I applied and got the job. Say, you wouldn't be wantin' to maybe take in a movie sometime, would you?"

Con didn't make it difficult to say "no" to in the way he asked questions; for that Arlissa was grateful. 

"Gee, I'm sorry, Con, I jist can't. I jist got too much on my plate right now to even think about going to the movin' pictures. Thanks, anyway. I gotta be on my way, now. Bye."

She realized as she left him that she had not divulged why she was there, but figured he'd know when he mopped Granny's hospital room.

Right now she had a lot more on her mind than going out and having a good time.

Maybe she needed to see a lawyer about little Benny, but that could wait til she decided what she really wanted to do.

By this time she was out the front door of the hospital and heading for her car. Taking one look at the car, she burst into tears. 

The spare tire had gone flat. She had been afraid that would happen. Now what to do? She didn't really know this part of town, since it was not her town. 

Arlissa looked around. Would help come from somewhere? She saw no one who looked like they would offer any assistance. 

"I could really use the help of that irritating trooper right now," she remarked to herself jokingly. She was beginning to realize she needed friends more than she had thought. Arlissa was the kind of person who had always considered herself to be self-sufficient in all things. Hard learned lessons were becoming evident in her life lately.

She decided to go back into the hospital since she was stuck here without transportation. She had no one to call on for help: the O'Hanlon's were out of the question; she might as well just go back and spend some more time with Granny while she pondered on her quandary. 

As she entered, she missed seeing that the front entrance had just been mopped and also the sign that Con had put there for people to be careful. OOPS! She slipped in the wet tile floor and landed on her seat, arms akimbo, and a surprised look on her features.

Con, who had been mopping another part of the front entrance, ran over and began to help her up. 

"Lissa, are you okay?" He couldn't keep the grin off his face as he tried to help her up. 

She kept slipping until finally she said, "Just turn me loose and let me get up by myself, please."

He acquiesced, standing back to watch and she turned over to her hands and knees and ungracefully stood to her feet. 

"I'm sorry, Lissa. I did put a sign there, you know. Are you all right?"

"Yes, yes, I'm fine. Just a bruised feeling in my ego."

"I don't understand. Where is your ego?" Con wasn't the brightest bulb in the pack. He had had a difficult time in school.

"Oh, it's where nobody can see it. Don't worry; it's not hurt too bad."

"Good. Well, I'm glad you're okay. Why did you come back in, anyway? Did you forget somethin'?"

"I have a flat tire. It was a spare that I had to use."

"I kin fix that for ya. I work at a service station when I ain't on the job here. How 'bout I fix it for ya? Might jist need some air in it. If'n it needs a patch, I kin do that, too. Okay? Make up for you fallin' on the floor here."

"Well, thank you, Con. You're a Godsend! I really appreciate it. I'll jist go down to Granny's room and wait."

"Yore Granny's here? What's wrong with her? I ain't been down all the halls yet. I didn't know she was in here."

"It's her heart. She jist had a stroke too. I'm hopin' she's gonna be okay, though. I gotta trust that she will be."

Arlissa left Con mopping the hall and felt his eyes watching her as she left. She knew he had always been sweet on her; she had to be careful not to encourage him. He could be dangerous, she knew. Granny had warned her.

Heading back into her Granny's room, she saw that the old lady was still sleeping, so she stepped quietly over to the window and looked out. The skies were looking gray, just the way she was feeling at the time. Her life looked as though it were falling apart; she didn't know which way to turn. 

"Lord, what am I going to do? Here's Granny all laid up; little Benny's future is all in a mess, and I seem to be right in the middle of it all. How could things be in such a muddle all of a sudden? Am I ever gonna find my way out of it all? What was Rosie thinkin' anyways, to give me custody of her little boy. And, what about his Daddy, anyhow? Won't he come a' lookin' for the boy? What then? Don't Daddies have rights above an old friend?" The burden seemed more than she could bear, and she felt the weight of it all bearing on her soul and spirit.

She seemed to hear a voice in her heart that said, "One day at a time, child. That's all we can do." 

Ah, Granny! That's what she was always sayin' to Arlissa as she was growin' up. It had been tough for Granny to raise Arlissa alone after Gramps passed away. 

She remembered Gramps and spending time with him. She loved playing around his feet when he was sharpening his hoes for gardening, or when he was sitting out under the big elm tree, taking in the shade in the middle of the day. Then one day, he was gone and left her and Granny all alone. 

"What are we gonna do, Granny? Without Gramps... it jist ain't the same. How are we gonna get along?"

"Jist one day at a time, child. That's all we can do."

Bless Granny and her wisdom. "Don't borry from tomorrow. Each day has got enough troubles of it's own. That's what the Good Book says, and it's mighty true, child. Now, you get on in and do yore homework. It ain't gonna do itself."

'Funny how those memories come back to us,' Arlissa smiled. 

She turned and looked at her grandmother resting quietly and smiled. Dear Granny! She was one tough old bird, so to speak. Hopefully, she would soon be well enough to take home. She knew Granny was made of strong stuff and would fight to recover. Granny would not want Arlissa to have to struggle to care for her. 

Just then the nurse came in with a tray for Granny. 

"Miss Hinton, I happen to have an extra tray. One of our patients went home this afternoon and the kitchen had already prepared a tray for them. Why don't you eat his supper, so it won't go to waste?"

"Oh, how kind! Thank you, nurse, I believe I will. I didn't have lunch today, and it will really taste good."

"Well, I don't know about tasting good, but it will fill the empty spaces." She smiled as she made the age-old joke about hospital food. "Also, when your grandmother wakes up, let your grandmother feed herself as much as she can do, because it helps her to get better."

"Yes, ma'am. Thank you. I will."

"I'll bring your tray right in."

Arlissa had just finished her meal when Granny awakened. The girl raised the head of the hospital bed so the old lady could sit up; then quickly got a washcloth and soaped it up so that Granny could wash her hands.

"Now, Granny, you need to eat something; get your strength up so you can go home soon. They won't let you out of here until they know yore gonna eat good."

"My right hand don't work good, Arlissy."

"The nurse said you need to be feedin' yoreself as good as you can, Granny. So jist try, okay?"

Granny picked up the fork with her left hand, but it was clumsy and she finally said, after a few bites, "I ain't hungry, nohow!"

"Oh, my, I hate to think of you in a nursing home, Granny! It'll be so sad. To see somebody else havin' to feed you everyday, when you coulda' done it yoreself, ifn' only you'd tried. But, I guess when a body gives up, that's what happens."

The old lady looked up, surprised to hear such words coming from her granddaughter's lips. How could she dare to speak to her in such a way, anyhow? It was - it was- well, it was just awful!

"You ain't a sendin' me to no nursin' home, missy! Jist you watch me eat this or die in the tryin'!" 

The old lady attacked the food with a vengeance, as though the fork was a weapon and the food disposition a war.

"Well, I vow! Granny, you are a'doin' it, ain't cha?" 

The girl smiled.

"I'm that proud of you! I knowed all the time you could do it!"

"Now, when do I get outta here?" The words were a bit garbled, but Arlissa got the idea of what she was trying to say.

"Whoa! Granny! Not in that big a hurry! But you gotta do what the doc says about exercisin' when they tell ya and yore leg and arm is gonna get stronger. They told me it could take a few weeks, but if'n you work at it, it could be sooner. But ya gotta feed yoreself, and try it with yore right hand some and it'll be stronger. Okay?"

She nodded her head, then said something that sounded like bathroom.

"They told me I had to get a nurse to help you with that, Granny. I'll ring fer one. Jist hold it, okay?"

Soon after they rang, a young nurse named Anne came in to help Granny. They placed her in a wheel chair and she was pushed into the bathroom where she was assisted to the commode.

When she came out, Anne suggested that they take her outside in the fresh air under some trees. When she got tired, Arlissa was to bring her back inside. 

Granny grinned her half-grin and nodded at the nurse.

"Yes, I like Anne, too." Arlissa replied.

Then she saw a tear stealing down Granny's soft, wrinkled face. 

"I know, Granny. It is beautiful out here, and I know you feel helpless right now, but it's gonna get better. I promise. And what don't get better, God's gonna give us the grace to get through. He promised that to us. Now let's jist enjoy the outdoors, okay?"

The old lady nodded and took Arlissa's hand, squeezing it in agreement.

"Granny, I was reminded a' somethin' today. You remember tellin' me time and again, 'jist take things a day at a time'? Well, we gotta do that now, right?"

The old lady looked up into her granddaughter's face, and gave the half-grin, her face brightening up visibly.

After they had been outside for about 40 minutes, Arlissa could see that Granny needed to be taken back inside, and proceeded to push her wheelchair in that direction. The doctor crossed their path and stopped them. 

"Ah, I see you are looking much better, Ms. Hinton! Fresh air can always help us recover. Miss Arlissa, you are looking a little more in control and that is good, too. How is your grandmother doing with her eating and speaking?"

"Pretty good and she is going to get even better, ain't ya, Granny?"

The old lady nodded her head in agreement and gave him her twisted smile.

He went on his way and they continued inside. 

Granny looked up at her and then in the direction the doctor had gone. 

"What? What are you saying, Gran?" 

Then the truth dawned on her. "Oh-h-h- no, Gran. Jist get that idea outta your head, he is engaged. You know what that means and he'd never look at me a second time. Besides, I don't want some high-falutin' fella as he is. I could never measure up, so jist ferget it!"

Just then Con came up from around the corner. Apparently he had overheard their last remarks.

"Well, what about me, then? I ain't no high-falutin' feller, and I always liked ya, 'Lissa. I got both yer tires fixed; how about goin' to the movies with me in turn for the gettin' the tires fixed?"

Arlissa looked at him with amazement in her eyes at his very audacity. She reached into her change purse which was in her pocket, and pulling it out, removed a five-dollar bill.

"I pay my debts with money, not favors! And don't you forget it!"

She stuffed the five dollar bill into his shirt pocket and continued with "Consider yourself paid for your trouble, Con Douglas! It was nice of you to fix the tires, but that's as far as it goes. And don't be askin' me again to go out with you, please!"

His face flamed red and she could see the anger in his eyes, but knew there was no changing the situation. He was just going to have to accept the facts. 

"Jist you wait, Miss High'n'Mighty! Jist you wait! You'll be needin' me some time and you'll have to beg 'fore I help you again! Maybe then I won't; then you'll see. You'll see!" 

He turned on his heels and left her standing open-mouthed as he walked away.

She heard Granny make a sound and turned to look at her. Granny just shook her head, with a look of fear on her face. She may have had a stroke, but she knew human nature, and was aware of the fact that Arlissa had made a dangerous person very angry. That could not be good.

Arlissa took the handles on the back of the wheelchair and continued the journey inside to return Granny to her room. 

After she got the old woman settled back in bed with the help of the nurse, she bade her good-bye and told her she would see her tomorrow and hoped she would rest good.

She reached her car and saw that Con had been true to his word and fixed the tires; so she headed home. 

The girl was almost home when she rounded a curve and saw a vehicle stopped along the side of the road, apparently in need of help. 

She stopped to see who it was. Just then along came none other than her trooper friend Odom.

Around from the other side of the parked vehicle came Con Douglas, grinning like a sheep-stealing wolf. He had not heard the approach of Trooper Odom; apparently he was intent on surprising Arlissa. 

"Con! What're you doin' here, anyhow? You left the hospital a while ago, before me. You been waitin' for me?"

"Uh, well, maybe...yeah. You sure you won't go to the movies with me, sometime? What about tomorrow night? I'll buy you some popcorn 'n' everything. I promise we'll have a good time. I won't try to kiss you 'er nothin' like that." 

"This fellow trying to bother you, Miss Arlissa?" 

Bobby Joe had just parked his motorcycle and walked over to the two of them. He could see there was some friction between them.

They both turned toward him. 

"No, we don't need you buttin' in on our talkin'. We're jist talkin' about Lissa goin' out with me. You can jist head on out the way you come in!"

"I told you several times, already, Con Douglas! I ain't goin' out with you, nohow, no way! Now scoot! I wouldn't go out with you if you was the last person in the world! Go! Go!"

She couldn't have been more emphatic with him if she had been standing over him with a baseball bat. Once again, his face burned with her rejection. 

"Jist you wait, Arlissa Hinton, jist you wait. You treat me like I'm somthin' you wouldn't wipe yore shoes on. Well, yore gonna get your comeuppance one a' these days when you're least expectin' it! You'll find out then!"

He got into his car and slammed the door shut so hard the glass rattled; he started the car and threw it into first, taking off with the spraying of gravel from the tires.

"Whew! That sure is one mad fellow, Miss Arlissa! Maybe you shouldn't have said all that stuff to him. He looks like he could be dangerous."

"Oh, poo! I'm not afraid a' him. He's all talk. He's been chasin' around after me ever since I was in grade school. Can't get rid a' him. Maybe he'll leave me be now."

"Hmmm. I don't know the man, but he's sure sweet on you and mad at the same time. That's a bad combination. Well, just you keep on your toes and don't dismiss his threats lightly. I just stopped to tell you that I did go over to visit the O'Hanlons today. They are quite upset with you, I can sure say for sure. They hired a lawyer today and they did contact Zeb. He is on his way home. It'll be good to see him again, but I hate it has to be under these circumstances. He told them he had some news for them, but wouldn't say what. It's been awhile since they saw him."

"They're mad at me cause Rosie signed a paper givin' me the job of raisin' her little boy. I didn't ask her to do that. I don't know what to do. I don't even know why she did it. Why would she give me the responsibility of raisin' her little boy? I ain't had no experience doin' anything like that. I don't want them mad at me! How do I choose the right thing to do?"

"Sorry. I don't know what I'd do! I can't advise anybody on what to do. Just follow your conscience, I guess."

"Well, I gotta go for now, and I have things to do at the farm." 

"Do you need me to follow you and kind of keep an eye on the farm this evening? I don't trust that fellow that was bothering you while ago. He knows where you live and that you're all alone, doesn't he?"

"Aw! I ain't worried. He's all talk, always has been! I've knowed him forever."

"Hmmm. Okay. If you say so, Miss Arlissa. Take care now."

She smiled and got into her car. He shut the door for her and she started up the car and left.

Bobby Joe stood looking at the car as it pulled out. He was still worried. 

(To be continued)