Well the kittens I mentioned last month have all found new homes [and new names I suppose] so it is a little quieter around here. I like the quiet but I think I may have a touch of empty nest syndrome.
It’s not anything like the empty nest I experienced when the last child left home, it’s more like uh…
Shucks, I don’t know…
Like losing your blanket? Kind of…
Like adjusting to the new furniture arrangement? No…
Like a new haircut? No…
Like finding a $20 bill? No…
Well by the time I find the words I will be over the empty nest thing but speaking of the last child to leave home, guess what?
Sniffles and snorts.
Baby boy had a baby boy this month! Remember when I was trying to find him a wife?
Okay, he didn’t have the baby – his lovely wife did but he helped as much as a man can.
Listen, I have to tell y’all I was a little concerned about how much help he would be. Most of us know how raunchy it can get in the final stage of labor. A natural labor. In a birthing center. Yeah!
Well I am proud to say he did just fine and his wife? Daaang, what a trooper! And to look gorgeous through it all? Just wow.
When I rehashed the story for the umpteenth time someone asked, “Were you in the delivery room?”
My are you serious look.
Oh yeah, I was all up in there. Honestly when they asked for privacy I knew they wanted me near them.
Chuckle to self.
When that same someone exclaimed their disbelief in my audacity I just sighed, shook my head and said, “I thought you new me.”
Now some of you will see where a bit of Mary’s character in The Clan Destiny Series comes from.
Here’s a snippet from chapter 10:
“Ma’am you cannot come back here. Not yet.” A strange nurse spoke, stepping in front of the charging mother.
“Oh yes I can!” Mary replied as she darted around the woman and into the room where Linda laid clutching Steve’s hand.
“Hey Mama.” The laboring woman grunted, “They let you in? That is great. Whoa…. Here comes another one. ” Mary ran to her daughter’s side and took her hand.
“She has got a hellacious grip, doesn’t she?” Steve asked, noting Mary’s fingers had turned a deep indigo color under the squeeze.
“She sure does.” Mary answered, leaning down to kiss her child, “My baby girl is strong and little Turner will be strong like his mother.”
“I’m pretty strong too.” The father-to-be replied with a sheepish grin.
“I’m sure you are.” Mary said without looking at him in a tone reserved for children, then with a mature pitch directed to Linda, “Where is your sister?”
“She went to see Larry – said she might knock off a quickie in the doc’s lounge while they were prepping me.”
“She was joking, right? I hope she was just kidding. I will go and -”
“Not now mother! For crying out loud… dear lord baby Jesus! This is really starting to get on my nerves.” Linda writhed in the bed, twisting and squeezing the hands she held for support. “Tell the nurse to check me again and tell `em I have changed my mind – I want that epidural and I want it right now!”
“You remember she said you were dilated too far for the epidural. We are going to get through this baby. Come on let’s do some breathing, follow my lead.” Steve coaxed, inhaling deeply and exhaling through pursed lips then panting with an odd hiss.
“Shut up!” Linda growled. Bearing down she pulled Steve’s hand to her mouth.
“No, no. Don’t bite me Linda… let me go.” He pleaded, attempting to pull his hand away until Mary’s free hand made stinging contact with his head.
“You let her bite you if she wants to! Don’t you dare pull that hand away or I swear to God I’ll bite you myself.”
HaPpY Friday y’All !!
…Picking up in Chapter 6 because I wanted to get to the [Irish] heart of the matter to pay homage to Joseph O’Bromely and all such kindred souls. HaPpY Saint Patrick’s Day Y’all. (Psst I think it’s a 99¢ St. Patty’s sale.)
“I have to go to ER.” Clara calmly announced after she returned the telephone to its holding place. “I will go with you.” Mary told her, tossing her bag to Levi, “Keep up with this until I get back.”
Levi and Maggie stared as the two quietly exited without further explanation.
“I have to go to ER.” Clara calmly announced after she returned the telephone to its holding place.
“What was that about?” Maggie asked shaking her head.
“Clara’s father.” He told her, concentrating on the mental picture.
“Oh my lord! Is Mary telling you this? What’s going on?”
“He’s not going to make it.” Levi said, shaking his head sorrowfully.
Mary’s left hand was locked tightly inside Clara’s; with her right hand she pressed the silver colored disk on the wall that allowed them entry to the emergency room. She could see Jim pacing beside the clear enclosure. The same place that it seemed only moments ago Mary MacDougal O’Bromley had breathed her last breath.
“Have you seen the outcome?” Mary asked just above a whisper and Clara nodded. “Then you are ready?” again, the woman nodded. Turning loose of Mary’s hand, Clara rushed to Jim with open arms.
“Are you alright sweetie?” she asked wrapping her slender arms around him.
“I’m fine. I’m fine.” He repeated as if trying to reassure himself.
“We knew this was coming but it doesn’t make it any easier does it?”
“No. No, it doesn’t” he answered smudging a stray tear from his whiskers. “How are you Mary?” he asked pulling her in for a hug.
The women looked like children hugged against the massive man.
“You walk between the yin and yang.” Mary said, smiling up at him.
“It beats the lonely road that brought me here.” He said with a weak grin.
Clara watched through the clear wall as Dr. Lawrence pushed medication into the veins of her dying father. Easing away from Jim she pressed her forehead to the plastic glass and waited for Joseph O’Bromley to look her way. When his faded green eyes finally met hers he smiled and winked and motioned her to come in. She in turn held up her index finger indicating in a moment and winked back at him.
“They know not to resuscitate him, right?” she asked without taking her eyes off of the first man she had ever loved.
“They know.” Her husband answered, “The doc said they would just push a few cardiac meds and see if that will patch him up.”
“Their pharmaceuticals won’t fix a broken heart.” Clara replied with a quiver, “He will be with Mama before long and I don’t want him seeing you grieve Jim. He needs to know you’ll be okay.”
“I know. I know.”
Clara didn’t have to look to know that his cheeks were wet, that his beard was spattered with droplets like an autumn field in the early morning dew. She could feel his mourning; see the sobbing child in the dim corner of his subconscious and the terrible sadness that had overshadowed them both since the passing of her mother. A shared sadness more about the state of the man now on his journey to reunite with that woman, the one he could never live without. In an odd way Clara felt at peace with the fact.
“We’ve done as much as his living will allows us to do but I’m afraid it won’t be enough Clara… again, I’m sorry.” Dr. Lawrence carefully announced.
“How much time do you guesstimate?” she asked still frozen to the sight of Mr. O’Bromley.
“One hour… maybe three hours tops. This one’s hard to call.”
Dr. Lawrence had an uncanny ability to estimate death down to the hour. He considered it a matter of scientific reckoning though Clara argued if it were science the art should be prevalent in most doctors, it was not.
“Will you ask Maggie to write me off the clock? I want to be with him until it’s over.”
“I sure will. I’ve been meaning to stop in there and visit with her anyway; this will give me an excuse.”
“You all can go in now.” Lisa told them after she had tidied the room and smoothed the thinning gray hair of her patient. “We’re not going to admit him so if there is anything you need just let me know.” The three smiled and nodded graciously before entering the room. Mary seated herself against the wall while Jim and Clara stood silently on either side of the bed.
“You two should have a seat. This might take a while.” The old man announced without opening his eyes.
“I’ll stand for just a bit if you don’t mind.” His daughter said, smoothing the wrinkles on his cold blue hands.
“What about you Jimbo?”
“I can’t sit with a lady standing Joseph.”
“You can if she insists.” Opening his eyes slightly where she could see them he added, “Clara Bell why don’t you insist he take a seat.”
“Please sit down honey, I insist.”
“Alright then.” Jim obliged.
“Who is that across the room?” Mr. O’Bromley asked squinting at Mary.
“It’s me – Mary, Linda’s mother. If you would like for me to wait outside I will understand.”
“Heavens no.” He gasped, “Come over here and give me a hug.” Mary quickly rose and hurried to the bedside. Leaning over she hugged him and asked, “How are you?” Immediately she regretted the inquiry. It was a stupid question, one asked out of polite habit. She knew how he was – he was dying.
“I’ll be better soon.” He smiled as he took her hand, “It didn’t take you long to lose that accent once you got to Texas did it?”
“Is that a wedding ring on your finger? Who’d you marry?”
“His name is Levi Turner.”
“That’s Maggie’s dad ain’t it?”
“Yes it is.” Mary blushed.
“Didn’t take y’all long to-” Mr. O’Bromley’s words were cut short by a fit of coughing that left his lips a deep shade of lavender.
“Let’s put some oxygen on.” Clara said bringing the mask toward his face only to be met with a weak hand clutching her wrist.
“No now, let’s don’t prolong it. I’ve got a date with destiny.”
“Ok Daddy. I just want you to be comfortable – as comfortable as possible.” She told him in a tone as bold as she could muster.
“It ain’t near as bad as it looks honey… or as bad as it sounds.” He wheezed and licked at his dry lips. “You could get me a shot of whiskey to wet my whistle though.”
“You don’t drink whiskey.” Clara grinned.
“I do on special occasions and this here is pretty darn special I’d say.” His attempt at joking lead to another bout of hissing coughs which gave his mouth a darker appearance.
“How about you quit trying to be funny. There’s no need to rush it by-”
“By what? Laughing myself to death. I can’t think of a better way to leave here.”
“You’re right pops. You always did love to joke. I guess you can’t help it.” Clara subtly turned her head and swept the wandering trickle from her jaw line.
Mary stood vigil holding the old Irishman’s hand and viewed the clear memories on his outer cortex. The picture playing out in color of him as a small lad holding to the tattered pocket of his father’s mud stained khakis.
On a cobbled Chicago street he had stopped to spit shine their shoes with a dingy handkerchief laden with holes before stepping onto the sidewalk. He removed his woolen flat-cap and spoke to what looked like a butcher in a stained white apron,
I see ye have a help wanted sign and I sir am looking for work. They’ll be nothing I can’t do and do well if ye give me but a chance, I’ll prove it to ye.’
She could see Joseph hang his head so his father would not see him ashamed and crying when the cruel man answered, ‘Gawl darn white trash! Why don’t you first learn to read? The man then slammed the door where the sign was clearly visible through the glass pane
NO IRISHMEN NEED APPLY!
Maybe in another hundred year’s wee Joseph.’
The memory had apparently pained Mr. O’Bromley most of his life, not for himself but for his father’s desperation… for the humiliation. Had it not been for the MacDougal’s they would have frozen or starved to death in the alleys.
I’d recommend you tone done yer accent Isaac and say yer a Scott. Drop the O in O’Bromley and maybe even try to pass yerself as a Brit- would certainly make life a bit kinder. That was Mr. MacDougal’s advice to Joseph’s father.
I’ll not do it. I cannot deny who I be no more than I could deny Christ himself. Tis by His mercies and good men like ye Marland MacDougal whom He put in me path – I’ll find favor. And me little Joseph will one day be a respectable citizen of these United States.
Mary continued watching, enthralled by the man’s mental history and squeezed his hand tighter at the sight of young Duffy.
The boys were instant buddies, playful and happy. She concentrated on every word, every gesture and movement of the adolescent MacDougal. She cheered him on as he slid onto the makeshift base in a game of ball played with a thick cedar limb and a heavy wad of masking tape. ‘Safe!’ a young girl yelled from the batter’s square and instantly the vision of Duffy was gone. Joseph’s full attention lighted on the smiling child with hazel colored eyes. The girl he knew he’d marry when they were old enough.
“Clara tells me you got the gift of seeing. And that you helped her.” Mr. O’Bromley forced the words out in short gasps.
“She helped me more than I helped her, I’m sure.” Mary smiled at Clara who was entranced in her own theatre of the man’s reminiscences.
‘Duffy would you make me a cup?’ the expectant Mary O’Bromley was asking, ‘and mince a sprig of mint to ease my troubled tummy.’ The burly barefooted man smiled sweetly and obliged. Moving gracefully for his size Clara noted as he tenderly handed his sister the warm chamomile tea with fragments of wild mint floating toward the edges of the shallow cup. ‘Little Clara likes the chamomile.’ He’d told her.
“I still like the chamomile.” She said aloud.
“Who you talkin’ to baby girl?” her father asked, “Do you see your mama comin’ for me?”
“Not yet.” Clara whispered and went back to watching what was left of Joseph’s recollections.
‘I wish you would settle down and make a family. I miss you so much when you’re out gallivanting all over the county.’ Mrs. O’Bromley was pleading with her brother, ‘There’ll be no heir to carry on the MacDougal name `less ye produce one.’
A bright eyed Joseph O’Bromley squatted across the room tapping the last miniature nail in to a freshly made cradle before testing its sturdiness. Don’t harp on the man Mary. Could be ain’t no woman would have him and you’re gonna make him feel bad about his self ‘cause he aren’t as handsome as me.
Duffy laughed, shook his head and took her hand in his, ‘You worry too much sweet sister. If it be me destiny I’ll have a troublesome wife of me own and a dozen mean boys to give fits to my ugly brother in law. But if not, so be it. Time will tell.’ Time was what the young Mary feared, knowing that Duffy’s was running out.
Mary Magdalene and Clara simultaneously heard his approach.
Joseph, are you ready old friend?
“I am.” Mr. O’Bromley wheezed, “Is my Mary with you?”
Clara squeezed her father’s hand and motioned for Jim. When he stood Mary reluctantly released her hold along with the sparkling image of the beacon and allowed Jim to stand in her place.
“Please know I love you and how grateful I am that you made me family.” Jim’s voice cracked when he spoke causing both women to sniffle unexpectedly. Joseph weakly pinched his son in laws hand and mouthed a few inaudible words.
“He says he’ll see you on the other side.” Clara told him.
It’s time to go now Joseph O’Bromley.
“Good-bye Daddy.” Clara whispered.
Mary watched from the end of the bed as the man’s body went limp. When his eyes glazed over she inconspicuously placed her hand on his foot to catch a glimpse of the departure. She could see the faint outlining of a door that appeared out of nowhere. “What’s it like?” She heard Joseph ask to which Duffy replied, “You’ll know in a moment.” And just before the flickers of shattered light faded… the transporter turned to Mary and smiled.
Lay your grammar obsessions aside, let your jaw relax, loosen your ears, take a long deep breath as you let your mind drift to the deep south and listen in to the privy conversation between Maggie and her dear Tallulah.
“Are you gonna sleep all day Mizrez Lafont? Best try to git up a bit.”
It was the sweet southern voice of Tallulah attempting to rouse the exhausted Maggie. She tapped the rail of a lump beneath the bedding and continued.
“Ima open these shades now missy, better make yo eyes ready cuz it’s a mighty fine mornin’.” Tallulah warned. Her bedraggled vernacular seemed to come from every direction at once.
Maggie pulled the Egyptian cotton over her face and murmured,
“Thank you Tallulah but for the umpteenth time would you please call me Maggie, okay?”
“Okay Miss Maggie.” The drapes flew back and light filled the room. Maggie lifted the cover from her face and squinted at the morning sun. Tallulah studied the woman’s face which was no more than a shade darker than the snowy sheets. She planted her hands on her hips and stared into the hollow eyes of her mistress.
“Mr. Ray is comin’ home today. He’s gonna be here in time for supper, you gonna tell him?”
“Yes Tallulah, I am going to tell him.”
“Is you feelin’ sick this mornin’? I can fetch you some dry toast and warm tea. That was always a help to me and to Mr. Ray’s mama too.”
“Yes please.” Maggie strained to sit up and suppressed a gag as she spoke. “That would be nice.”
When Maggie heard the door shut she scrambled to the restroom, turned the cold water on and splashed her face. The wave of nausea subsided and she raised her head to inspect the figure before her. She hardly recognized the drawn, insipid person in the mirror.
Maggie had been ill since the last night of her honeymoon when Ray carried her from the beach. She barely recalled the long flight home and blamed it on the rum but there was something wrong and she knew it.
The illness quashed her plans to redecorate the beautiful old plantation house. It had been in the Lafont family for close to two hundred years. There wasn’t much Maggie wanted to change about the historical mansion, just a few personal touches to make it her own, their own. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Lafont – Ray didn’t care one way or the other.
Mrs. Turner kept her word and came to visit at least once a week, usually staying for several days though Maggie hardly noticed with most of her days spent between the bed and the bathroom of the apartment sized boudoir.
Unable to keep much of anything on her stomach Maggie wasn’t surprised when she noticed her collar bones protruding like bowed timber at the base of her bony neck. Lifting her gown she could visualize the distinct outline of every rib then letting her eyes drop she observed the only thing that wasn’t recessed was her belly. Her abdomen looked like a basketball had been shoved beneath her flesh. “Ohhh god,” she moaned as her emaciated frame convulsed and heaved. Green bile splashed against the marble sink.
“Awe honey child!” Tallulah cried, rushing to Maggie’s side. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
“I’m sorry Tallulah,” Maggie swept a trembling hand across her mouth; “I’ve made another mess.”
“Don’t you worry ‘bout that none. That’s what I’m here for.”
Tallulah helped Maggie back to bed and softly washed her face then held the cup steady while Maggie sipped the chamomile tea.
Tallulah was a thick framed black woman who reminded Maggie very much of Aunt Jamima though she never said it out loud for fear of offending the angelic lady.
“You have gots to tell Mr. Ray Miss Maggie! You shoulda done told him a month ago. You done let this go too long, way too long.” She fretted, dabbing a damp cloth at Maggie’s face.
“There is nothing to tell Ray that he doesn’t already know. You know how he feels Tallulah – how we both feel about this. Now please…”
Without warning tea colored liquid spewed across the fine linens.
“He don’t know the doctor said you need to be shed of this or it’s gonna kill ya. It caint be he knows and let you lay up here wastin’ away.” The old nurse insisted, talking while she put a fresh damp cloth to Maggie’s neck and replaced the soiled sheet, “Mr. Ray is gone all the time, he don’t see what I see and when he calls you makes like ever little thang is fine.”
“Nature will take its course.” Maggie argued.
“That it will.” Tallulah agreed, “And maybe yo life in the doin’. Y’all can make another baby ma’am.” Tallulah paused to weigh her words and put her hands on Maggie’s gaunt ashen face, “They is somethin’ bad wrong with this one precious. I seen thangs like this here before. If ‘n it lives and you die…”
“I want to sleep now.” Maggie spoke abruptly to put an end to the conversation. Tallulah did not press the matter and Maggie sunk back beneath the cotton sheets.
You better take care of yourself and make sure this baby gets born healthy, do you hear me young lady?
The words of her mother ran through Maggie’s mind. It wasn’t as if Maggie had any control over it. If she did, if she could will her misery out of existence, the life sucking parasite would have been expelled weeks ago.
Maggie had just dozed off when the rumbling in her gut stirred her. It was not the usual churning she was familiar with and there was no nausea accompanying it. She lay still waiting for it. She placed her hand on her belly felt it again, a flutter followed by a tiny thump.
It’s kicking! Maggie stretched out on the bed and exposed her naked stomach. When the flutter started again she could see a slight rise in the protrusion on her withered frame.
“Hello in there.” She said quietly. It seemed to respond to her voice so she spoke again. “I’m gonna be your mother little man.” The communication went on for about ten minutes and when Maggie felt the thumps diminish she whispered, “You go back to sleep now, it’s going to be okay, your mama loves you.” A single tear of relief tickled the corner of her nose and she rang for Tallulah to bring her a full Sunday breakfast.
Tallulah entered a half-hour later with a smile and a tray loaded with soft scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast, grits and juice.
“I never seen you look so good Miss Maggie.” She laughed as the starving mother-to-be inhaled the platter of food and kept it down. “May be you gonna be alright after all. You and the young-un, yes indeed, may hap.” Tallulah practically danced out of the room with the empty tray and soiled linens in tow.
The fact that she had consumed every morsel without regurgitating bolstered her confidence as well as her energy. Maggie stood beneath the shower-head, stroking and lathering her stomach as she sang nursery rhymes to her unborn child. After showering she realized her endurance was not yet up to par and returned to bed for the best sleep she had had in months.
Two hours later Maggie awoke feeling exuberant and summoned Tallulah.
“Would you like to take a walk with me Tallulah?” she inquired.
“Not looking like you look.” The lady laughed, “`S’pose I comb them rats outta yo hair first.” Tallulah guided Maggie to the balcony. “You sit right here while I get a brush and lay out somethun nice for you to wear. You done got so po ain’t likely nuthin’l fitcha but we’ll make do.” Tallulah chose a light yellow poly blend dress from the wardrobe, laid it on the settee and shoved a brush inside her apron pocket. Before stepping back out onto the terrace she made the bed and turned down the covers.
“Here we go Miss Maggie.” turning Maggie so her back was to her, “Lawd child yo head is nappy!”
Maggie didn’t bother remarking on the comment. She knew she looked a fright in her current condition.
“How long have you known the Lafont family?” Maggie asked, as Tallulah stood behind her on the sun drenched veranda brushing out a mat of blond tangles.
“All my life.” Tallulah answered, “My Mama was maid to Mr. Ray’s Mama.”
“Really?” Maggie asked in surprise.
“Sho nuff and her Mama was employed here fo her. See my peoples was once owned by the Lafont’s.” Tallulah stated matter of factly with what sounded like pride to Maggie.
“Why on earth would you stay after the abolition – I mean why would your family stay on? Didn’t they know they could leave? Did anyone ever say?” Maggie asked, thoroughly intrigued by the information.
“Yessum, my mother told me what was told her — that they was no cause to leave. Said the Lafont’s made sure they had money, land and educated um too. Said they always gave um Sunday off and Saturday if need be. Wuddint no beatin’ and rapin’ goin’ on here like in tha other parts I heard tell of. I b’lieve her too cause they paid all three of my sons through college – called it my bonus. I couldn’t a got that nowhere else.”
“No ma’am I don’t believe you could have. So you’re fond of the family?” Maggie asked.
“Love um like they’s my own. I got one son is a doctor thanks to Mr. Ray’s daddy.” Tallulah beamed with pride and added, “The other two boys is teachers. Good teachers too.”
“I bet they are. You must be so proud of them Tallulah– all three of them.”
“I am Miss Maggie, I really am.”
“So tell me about Ray when he was a little boy.” Maggie urged.
“What’s be you wanna know?” Tallulah asked admiring and grooming the now smooth golden tresses of hair.
The first memory that came to Tallulah’s mind of the young Lafont conjured cruel pictures. Images of the puppy Ray had found in an old grain silo. Tallulah could not bring herself to tell the ailing lady of how her husband had broken the legs of the tiny cur at every joint and tied its muzzle so it couldn’t cry out. She diligently searched her memories for something more pleasant. The imposition was cut short when Maggie abruptly slouched forward grabbing her waist.
“What’ a matter Miss Maggie?”
“I’m not sure.” Maggie replied, straining to speak through the enervating cramp, “Can we go in now?”
“Yessum. But you gots to tell ole Tallulah what’s wrong? Is you hurtin?”
Maggie nodded her head and tried to stand but found her legs would not support her.
“Let me help you.” She said, lifting Maggie to her feet.
“Oh lawdy lawd child, better let me carry you.” She swept Maggie up and carried her like a child back into the bedroom, laying her gently on the bed. “Ima get some towels – just you lay real still now.”
Maggie pulled her knees toward her chest, a natural maneuver to relieve the unrelenting spasm.
“Oh no.” She whimpered, “No, no, no little baby.” She cried when she noticed the bright red stain on her gown.
“Up here Mrs. Turner.” Tallulah yelled. Maggie lay motionless staring up at nothing as the nursemaid removed the bloody towels from between her legs. “Looks like that’s all of it ma’am.” Tallulah told her.
“Good lord have mercy! Look at all the blood. Tallulah were you able to stop it?” Mrs. Turner spoke frantically as she stood at the doorway and stared at the sharp contrast of crimson against the white bed sheets.
“Tha bleedin’ is slowed to nearly nuthin but she ain’t with child no mo ma’am.”
“Are you sure. Maybe we’d better call an ambulance and get her to the hospital.”
“For the girl may be, but look here.” Tallulah said, opening a towel for the grandmother to be, “Woulda been a boy by tha looks of it.”
“Dear god, that thing is hideous! Throw it away!” Mrs. Turner screamed as the salty rivers ran from her daughter’s silent face.
Three women, three very different backgrounds and the roads that all lead to one place, somewhere Between the Rage and Grace.
Inside a small hospital, in a rural Texas town there is a peculiar camaraderie evolving. Clara O’Bromley (fresh out of college) is assigned to ICU, which is no small feat. She has her supervisor, Linda Latrull to thank for that, and for placing her under the direction of a foul-mouthed debutante named Maggie Turner. Maggie is happy to take the young nurse under her wing until she learns that Clara can read more than EKG’s. Clara herself is unaware of this ability until she sees into the past; a past Maggie and Linda both have gone to great lengths to hide.
“Clara Bell!” Mr. O’Bromley roared as his daughter strolled into the hostelry, “Give your dear old dad a hug.” He grabbed Clara before she could get her lab coat off.
“Hey Daddy.” She said, pecking him on the cheek, “Where’s Mama?”
“I should’ve known it weren’t me you come to see.” He frowned and then winked, “Your ma is out back. Have a seat and I’ll holler at her.”
Clara helped herself to a coffee and warm raisin danish before taking a seat in the corner booth. She had barely settled in and creamed her coffee when Mrs. O’Bromley came shuffling across the dining room. Clara stood to hug her mother and after a quick embrace Mrs. O’Bromley said, “Sit back down. I know you got something on your mind when you pick this seat.”
“Oh really? Clara sneered in jest.
“You know it’s the truth so don’t play coy with me child, she said sliding in to the opposing seat, “You just missed Jimbo.”
“Aww. Did he eat a good breakfast?”
“You know he did, there ain’t a thing wrong with that man’s appetite. But I believe he worries a bit too much about you.” Mrs. O’Bromley said with a raised brow.
“I’ve been having some crazy dreams Mama or nightmares really. And lately visions pop in my head; sometimes it’s like looking on at a thing and other times it feels like I’m the one doing the thing.”
“Well I’ve heard you talk about clairvoyants most of my life and I was just wondering… do you think I’m one?”
“I don’t know. A better question is what do you think?”
“I’m at a loss — that’s why I came to you.” Clara said picking the raisins from her pastry.
“Let’s see…. have you ever known the future before it came to pass?”
“No, I don’t think I’ve seen the future… maybe the past.”
“Can you read my mind? Right now, can you read my mind?”
Clara strained for a few seconds and said, “You’re thinking you need to put a roast on for the lunch crowd?”
“That was a guess Clara! You know my routine. Try again.”
They both sat quietly for over a minute, maybe two until the frustrated Clara said,
“Nothing. I don’t see anything. So what now?”
“I’m not an expert Clara; I don’t know how the mind works. I do know there are folks that can and I’m not talking about some circus clown that’s good at reading peoples body language or personality.”
“Like you saying I’d marry Jim?”
“Yep. But anything I see comes random and I don’t call myself a clairvoyant. Tell me more about these visions and dreams and when it was they happened.”
Clara spent the next hour telling her mother about the nightmare with the dying patient and Maggie. The vision she had of Maggie’s brutal beating and the trance like state where she told Maggie it was her husband who beat her as well as a few other things that had been happening.
“You have some sort of gift, but I don’t know what it is or what to call it.” Mrs. O’Bromley said tapping her finger to her chin.
“I wouldn’t call it a gift Mama. What good does it do me or anyone else to see things after the fact? Or things that I can’t do anything to change? Maybe it’s a curse.”
“Don’t you doubt God and all his nature!” Her mother scolded, “Ain’t up to us to decide what we get and when — just figure out how to use it. Didn’t you say that patient told you to tell somebody something? Something about Omaha?”
“Olam-ha-ba.” Clara laughed, “I tried to look it up to see what it meant but it’s not in the dictionary. You think she wanted me to tell them to go to Omaha?”
“Better not say that, they’re liable to believe you and make the trip for nothing.”
Clara and Mrs. O’Bromley laughed heartily.
“Yeah.” Clara spit between gasps of humor “I can see me calling her daughter and saying, ‘your mom came to me after she died and said she wants you to go to Omaha’.”
“Ask her if I can go too.” Mrs. O’Bromley snorted, “I’ve never been to Nebraska.”
The women were in hysterics when they saw Mr. O’Bromley standing stone faced at the head of the table.
“What’s the matter Daddy?” Clara asked trying to appear more solemn. Mrs. O’Bromley was cooing a loud ahhh and wiping her eyes with the tail of her apron.
“You girls having fun are you?”
They both nodded and started to giggle again.
“And at the expense of a dead woman’s dying wish, no doubt. Shame on the both of ya!”
The stout gray-haired Irishman stood over the women shaking his head in slow motion, from side to side with each turn implying another shame on you.
“I’m sorry Dad.” Clara did feel slightly ashamed and soberly replied, “I hadn’t considered it like that. Honestly. I apologize.”
“It was inconsiderate but `taint me ya ought to be apologizing to, you best deliver that poor soul’s message to her family at first chance.” Turning to look at his wife Mr. O’Bromley sighed with disappointment, “And you Mary O’Bromley… knowing the gifts of spirit ye yourself possess and all but mocking with your jokes of Omaha and bustin’ at the seams.”
Clara almost lost her composure again but his stern tone kept it in check as he glanced at her then back to continue the rebuke of her mother, “Did you ever tell little Clara why you named her such?”
Clara looked puzzled turning to Mrs. O’Bromley, who was indicating no with a vigorous shake of her head.
“Weren’t any need to tell her before. I thought it were just a vain vision.”
“What do you mean?” Clara inquired looking back and forth at the two fixed in a staring contest of sorts.
“Your mother,” Mr. O’Bromley said, “seen herself having a pale eyed girl even when the doctor told her she weren’t able to bear children. She had a faulty womb ya know. Not only that but she also proclaimed the babe would have the gift of seeing. That’s what started her on the way of always talking about clairvoyants. She believed it so much she named you Clara three years `fore you were ever born.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that Mama?”
“Never had the opportunity or reason ‘fore now. I told you I have no idea what to call it or how to use it. Sometimes it’s best to keep ones mouth shut!” she said staring straight at her husband.
“What do you think about it Daddy?” Clara asked, looking to her father for direction.
“I think you should welcome it Clara Bell.” He said, softly smiling down on his daughter, “Take it for what it is- no more, no less.” He paused making Clara believe the next words would be filled with insight and she waited assiduously for him to continue, “And if you don’t know what to do with it…” he drew the pause further until his audience was captivated and announced, “Take it to Omaha.”
Laughter erupted as the old man slapped his knee with delight.
“Drinks on the house.” He chuckled, knowing there wasn’t a patron on the premises.
Between the Rage & Grace can be purchased at your favorite e-book retailer HERE.
Paperback @ Amazon HERE
Here’s a tidbit: The cover was designed from a series of photos I took. I kind of like how it turned out. 🙂
But I think it’s worth telling again 😉
I was wading in the surf on Matagorda beach one warm, sunny day exchanging dialogue with Clara.
I had known Clara for about ten years and I have to admit, conversing with her was like pulling teeth. I don’t want to say she was dull, but she was too quiet and a tad introverted. Don’t get me wrong, she is a lovely girl. She is smart and pretty and sweet and kind, but she was just too darn nice for the most part. Too calm, too reasonable, too… dull! There, I said it!
Anyway, as I was wading in the surf, dragging my feet (literally to scatter the sting rays) I was thinking how I might kill her. I know that must sound horrible, we had been comrades for so long, but she wearied me. Her unspoiled, hoity-toity, prim and proper, everything by the book personality made me want to send her sailing face down with the outgoing tide. I think she knew it (she has a sixth sense thing, you know) and I figured she wasn’t going to fight me. It wasn’t in her nature. I thought maybe she wanted to die?
I had mulled it over and finally come to terms with the decision when a perky little blonde came running down the beach waving and shouting,
“Hey y’all wait for me.”
Oh my lord, I thought, while trying to ignore the thin, tanned Mississippian’s approach.
I quickly shoved Clara toward the incoming wave but her feet were planted too firmly — she didn’t budge, and to my surprise she pushed back!
“Do you know her?” I asked.
Clara shook her head slowly and replied, “No but you do. You met her on a trip to Biloxi once.”
I was speechless.
“Hey, I’m Maggie,” the lady smiled as she looked past me and held out her hand, “you must be Clara.”
I suppose it’s true that opposites attract. I watched Maggie come alive and in doing so she saved Clara.
*This is a story about a story. Clara and Maggie are safe and sound (for the most part) inside a fictional series.
Read about their meeting in Book 1
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago I worked as a nurse.
My daughter (on the left) is a nurse and many of my friends and family are still working in the field of nursing.
I could write forever about the combined experiences of a nursing career. As a matter of fact a few of those experiences fueled scenes in the fictional Clan Destiny series where the main characters (Clara, Linda and Maggie) are nurses. Mary Latrull (another fictional character) likes to pretend she is a nurse and would probably be a good one except –
Oops. I veered off track.
I mention the series now because this is National Nurses Week.
Happy Nurses week comrades, family and friends!
Oh poo, let me ramble off road for a minute and we’ll make this one of Tuesday’s Tell All.
Thinking on the series: when the books stood alone, before they were renamed the Clan Destiny series and before the reviews disappeared from Amazon I had a few comments that the stories were too “far-fetched” and unbelievable. Yeah, nurses with paranormal abilities. Ha! I’m not sorry, that is why I called it fic-shun.
A handful of people (mostly “nurses”) suggested the medical terminology and/or procedures were incorrect. I know it was wrong but I had to call those to attention. Why? Because I kept “procedural” scenes to a minimum for lay reasons and if practice or terminology has changed that much in the last few years I honestly wanted to know. But nope…
The real thing ‘said nurses’ took issue with was the (occasional) disrespect and unprofessional behavior that I portrayed. The strange thing is those scenes were all too real. Allow me to share.
In book one Maggie curses a bit, insults a doctor and she and Clara have a confrontation, nearly coming to blows while on duty. One ‘said nurse’ says, “#1 no nurse would talk to a doctor like that and #2 Cursing and fighting on duty like hoodlums would never happen.” Truth? It happens. Been there, done that. Nursing is a stressful profession and nurses are human, sometimes we act stupid.
In book two Mary (as a patient) leaves the hospital against medical advice without signing the proper forms. Another ‘said nurse’ says, “A patient would not be allowed to leave without signing the necessary documents.” I laughed myself silly. Truth? I have chased more than my share of irate, deranged and determined absconders while pleading with them “just sign this and you can go.” Hospitals, clinics and care centers are not prisons; you cannot hold someone against their will and you cannot make them sign a form to c.y.[own]a. (cover your [own] a**)
In book three Maggie, Linda and Clara laugh (in private) and refer to a patient, Mr. Stenchman, as Mean-as Stinky man or Mean-ass Stinky pants. An offended ‘said nurse’ says, “You should not depict nurses in such an unprofessional and unflattering way.” Truth? Sometimes we are unprofessional and ugly and sometimes the patient is a mean-ass stinky man.
I could rattle on about sordid affairs, fist fights, missing bodies/body parts, resurrections, insurance/benefit/patient abuse, medicare fraud and more but I won’t. Not today.
Yes, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
I may write a true tell-all one day but until then I’ll keep changing the names to protect the guilty, add a little ‘what if’ and focus on the fictitious person – not the true profession.
For all of you nurses [with or without imperfections] keep being the best that you can be. Thanks for shoving your own sh*t aside for 8 to 16 hours a day and caring even when it seems like you don’t.
Happy Nurses Week!
I cannot count the number of trips taken in that old station-wagon, but I do recall the passengers (nine, twelve and sometimes fifteen) packed liked sardines in a can; damp and smelly and filled with anticipation.
Looking back: It is like sitting in the third row seat of an old station wagon, staring ahead at the road behind you…
It is not enough to sit in the front seat and see where you were going – you didn’t know anyway. To understand how you got here you have to look at where you have been.
In that third row seat facing backwards you might be tempted to stare at the floorboard or the marks on your shoes or the stripes on the asphalt that never seem to end, but don’t. To understand you must look up, look back and accept the scenery for what it was.
When the pain and fury and fear rise up — remember it is only a hill in the distance, you have already passed over. That queasy feeling in your stomach is no more than a sour memory.
I speak as if caressing scars and lament but what of the scars I have inflicted? Do I grieve for them? The answer is yes; indubitably yes.
Reminder: This is the last day Getting Me Back (The Voices Within) will be FREE (April 18th through the 21st). It is also the last “A Poem & A Picture by Me & of Me” for this year’s NPM. You can do your happy dance now. 😉
Oh, and Clan Destiny (Unjustified Favor) Book 3 in the series is your complimentary title for April 21st -23rd. Have a super-fantastic read filled weekend and I’ll see you next week.