Friday, February 25, 2011

after queenie--feb. 25-11

wow my mind has been racing with my 2 ideas for a new story--one is just pretty much the idea-lots of work to do for it--so i have been thinking of going with the other one that is based on some real places and people-can't decide how i would disguise them well enough- don't think i could--see that is one of my big problems with writing--i can't let myself be totally honest--so maybe i should just write something that is all fiction no characters based on anyone or if they were no one would know--

sorry today's blog is so much about me but then again most of my blogs have been----i kinda like to read about real people though--as a matter of fact i have gotten into memoirs and biographies lately--when i start the new book i will likely stop reading--i just finished julie andrews memoirs and it was surprisingly interesting--now i am reading a biography of madonna the singer---i didn't really seek these 2 people out--a friend loaned me j.a. and i was looking in the thrift store for biographies and wouldn't pay $3 for the hardbacks so i didn't have a lot of choices in the paperbacks--madonna's is pretty good so far--you know i have also found some of the best books in the dollar stores---

i had started a new project a while back but lost it on the computer--i usually write it on paper first but-----

i think robyn corrected my application to advertise on this blog but still haven't heard back from google on the acceptance of my app.-----not sure how all that works- guess i will see-----

well i could go on and on but don't have really anything more to say right now--oh no wait one more thing--those of you who read queenie's bequest, i thank you for taking the time and sending me comments through fb--i still wish it was easier to comment on here but people tell me they try and can't--i think you just have to start a google acct. which i think is pretty easy--so if you wouldn't mind--:)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

QUEENIE'S BEQUEST-13th entry-the conclusion

When I arrived back at the house that evening, William was waiting for me. "Where have you been, Captain Smith's been calling. He's got a lead on our Rev. McDonald."

I returned his call. "Yes Miss Carol, seems there's been a couple of break-ins round these parts. Last night we got this guy sort of matches your description of your guy. Can you come down and identify him?" I agreed to come down the next day, although I knew full well this wasn't the man.

The next week I arranged to meet Uncle Conner, where I gave him the letters, but not all. I thought it was funny that he didn't inquire if they were complete. He thanked me and giving me a brief hug, he said he was going back where he had come from, which would remain unknown.

I struggled somewhat about not telling the others, especially my father, about his uncle, but I tried to let it go.

Before I knew it our time was up. We were busy packing and most of us looking forward to being back at our respective homes for Christmas. I think I was finally beginning to give up the crazy idea of living here permanently. Anyway we had to go to the lawyer's office for the final meeting. To get our money. All would be over.

We entered into the dark little office of Paul Angers. He was his usual important self. He did have a surprise for us and him.

"Now now you all have accomplished what Miss Queenie had bequested haven't you." We all nodded and each took a slow deep breath. "There's just one little thing before we finish our business." We all began to squirm. No one wanted to shout out, "hey wait a minute, I've done my time, give me my pay now."

"Queenie has one last envelope even I have not read but was to be read at the completion of her bequest, here goes."

I Queenie Elizabeth Chambers Hargrove, being of sound mind and body on this the first day of July in the year nineteen hundred and eighty do hereby bequeath..............

The letter went on to say that she wanted us all to know she had been left this money by her most loving and devoted friend and companion Rev. Quentin McDonald.

After all were coming out of our shock and dismay we left. Paul Angers caught my eye and I followed him back to his office. I don't think anyone knew I had gone back in. He held out his hand. "Carol this envelope was only for you to read and please do not tell me what it contains, you understand?" I did.

"My dearest Carol

There was my uncle's address and a request that if he was still living, I was to contact him and send him the money he had hidden in the house so long ago, from the bank robbery. Further more I was to pretend it was just part of her settlement. She had exchanged the old bills years ago. Her little brother had not known she had found the money. For she never wanted him to know she knew he was involved in the bank robbery.

I didn't think I could go through with this. He didn't deserve it. He didn't deserve my grandmother's love. I could understand how she felt about him, for she had practically raised him. So now it all made sense. It wasn't the letters he had wanted. He may have cared about her name to some degree, but he was after the stinking old money. All those years, I guess I did wonder why he hadn't shown up before, knowing he's hidden it there.

We all hugged each other goodbye and some of us lied about how much fun we had had, though William and I did have some good talks and even Ellen and Charlotte seemed closer. Mother was the happiest to leave no contest, but Daddy was very melancholy. It was sad and final.

I stayed behind and waited for John to drive up and we'd go home the next day. I would definitely miss this place. Oh and yes I got the money Grandmother had hidden. Some was in the back of the picture of Uncle Conner. Some was in the old piano roll of "Changes."

I got in touch with Uncle Conner, just as Grandmother had asked me to. I asked him why he hadn't come looking for the money sooner. He said he had many times although no one knew. I told him where she had hid it. All he could say was "darn I should have thought of that." There didn't seem to be any shame in him for me knowing the truth and for Grandmother knowing the truth all along. I knew she had wanted that to be a secret, but he would have figured it out. I guess Queenie wasn't thinking too clearly about that fact.

I don't know what crime I committed or why Queenie entrusted me to do this. I've never been sure if that was a compliment or a flaw in my character. That she detected that somehow I'd relate to Uncle Conner. I did.

Those last six months had truly been an experience, one I wouldn't have given up. I learned a lot about Grandmother and just what she was trying to teach us about family. That true family would do anything for the ones they love. Though it seemed to me she was the only one it applied to. Still there was time.


BY lynn proctor

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I couldn't believe I was actually considering going by myself, but suddenly the peace I had felt on my walk was saying go on it's okay, trust me.

I was pulling into the library as I saw a car pulling out. It didn't look like Rev. McDonald's old car, but it did resemble the side of his head. Had I possibly come this close to have missed him by ten minutes. I jumped out of the car to see him standing behind the exit with of all people, Mr. Henry. Rev. McDonald was wearing some sort of disguise, but I was sure it was him. Maybe I should leave after all. I had thought Mr. Henry was weird. Could these two be planning something sinister? We'd see.

"Oh you came, please let's go to my car." Now wait a minute I thought. Never get in the car never! What was I thinking. I slipped into the front passenger seat. Mr. Henry in the driver's seat and Rev. McDonald in the back. My heart was skipping a couple of beats, but I tried to appear calm. I turned. "Now what's this all about, get on with it." " First my Dear." Rev. McDonald began, "let me assure you once more I mean you no harm and also let me inform you I am not Rev. McDonald." I knew it ! I tried to act unmoved by this admission. I leaned back further, "okay, just tell me who the heck you are then or this conversation's over." I placed my hand firmly on the door handle ready to bolt if necessary. "Missy just hear me out." At this point I wasn't even trying to figure out what old Mr. Henry had to do with this. Henry went on, "I've known this old guy for a long time, he's okay, he ain't gonna hurt you, just listen to him."The "Rev. took over, "Your grandmother felt I could be sure of you, that you would try to be fair. She said to come to you. I hope she hasn't made a mistake." He leaned up and stared me straight in my eyes. I didn't look away. I wanted to. I wanted to get out of there, to not hear what he had to say. I sensed it would change things, that I would have to make decisions, I didn't want to make. I was right. "Just go ahead and tell her, tell her who you are and what you want, or I will" old Mr. Henry kinda surprised me. "Very well, Carol, have you found some letters?" Obviously he knew I had, but hadn't told Mr. Henry. "Queenie said you would." How did she know I would? Should I tell him I had and that all the rest of the family knew about them? Suddenly I felt I had betrayed Grandmother. He continued, "don't believe those letters my dear. Your grandmother never loved Rev. McDonald. She was only protecting me. Henry here tells me you've done some research about the bank robbery. Now I was recognizing the face. The face..the one that had seemed so familiar. That was why he looked like my father. This was Uncle Connor. He went on to confirm it and to swear to me he never had anything to do with the robbery, just as I'd been told. I only want to have the letters, to destroy them. I would never want anything or anyone to damage my dear oldest sister's memory. I hated to tell him I had told all in the house, so I didn't.

Instead I directed the conversation, "If Grandmother didn't love Rev. McDonald, than just what are those letters about and why would she keep them all these years?"

He settled back in his seat taking a deep breath and began, "back when the robbery took place, there was more than a robbery it was all about. I'm not going to reveal the other two that were involved in this fool plan. They're long dead now. Only one of them paid his debt for this but the other was never found out and as far as we're concerned never will be."
I wanted to stop him and ask just how they both knew of this, if they weren't involved, but I figured he would get to that. "Well anyway those two aside, there was one man the mastermind so to speak. The one that was never accused. The one with the worst heart of all. His plan went way beyond a simple bank robbery. His idea was murder, murder of his own wife." Uncle Connor took a breath. Huh what was he talking about? I was lost. "You heard about the lady that was shot in the robbery, Rev. McDonald's wife" he shook his head, like he couldn't believe I was so dense. "Oh, oh, oh goodness Rev. McDonald, but why, this doesn't make sense" I pondered. "Let me finish my dear, you see Rev. McDonald had a large life insurance policy on his bride of only two years. There had been a number of bank robberies in the surrounding counties, that had gone unsolved. He decided to arrange for Martha McDonald to be there on the day of the robbery. The robbery was just a bonus. A bonus he never got and no insurance money. The job was botched." "She didn't die you mean" I was getting it now. "Yes and he couldn't do her in himself and I guess never had the nerve or didn't ever find anyone else willing. He spent the rest of his life taking care of her and figuring he'd get the money soon enough. She was badly hurt, but darn near out lived him." "But" I interrupted "this still doesn't clue me in a bit on Grandmother's part in this. Why was he writing her?" "I'm getting to that. Your see my dear he did come to love your grandmother very much, although it didn't begin that way. He was going all around telling anyone who would listen, that I was involved in the robbery. He had threatened to track me down and even get bounty hunters on me. "That's when Queenie got involved" piped in Henry. "Queenie would have done anything in the world for me." He had tears in his eyes. He went on, "I thought she maybe didn't really know if I had, had something to do with the robbery or not. I had been in some troubles before. There was no denying that. She started visiting Rev. McDonald in order to feel him out and befriend him. She was genuinely concerned for his wife and I think somewhat him. She knew about his part in the plan to kill his wife, but had a weird kind of compassion for him. Though her main concern was he not hurting me."

I had to ask, "I thought everyone said you died or some said you just ran off. Did you keep in touch with Grandmother?" "Of course my dear and I knew Rev. McDonald wouldn't hurt Queenie. All he wanted from her at first, was to see if she was in contact with me. He eventually believed her, that I had died away somewhere and that was that." "I still" I jumped in at a pause, "don't understand. Why would Grandmother have kept those letter?" "As blackmail dearie" croaked Henry,"yes if he had been found out to be having a relationship with Queenie, the insurance company would have had many questions. He thought he'd be getting that money any time, you see." I was starting to see, but there was still-how did these two know all about the details?

Uncle explained that the man that went to prison never told about Rev. McDonald's part. He was planning to split the money from the insurance policy when he got our in twenty. He died in prison. The guy that never was caught swore to the Rev. he didn't have the money from the bank robbery.I questioned what had become of the money. No one knew. "Maybe I'm stupid or something" I whined, "but I still don't know why Rev. McDonald thought you had anything to do with the robbery, uncle Connor?"

"Oh that yes I was getting to that. It seems the guy in prison told the Rev. he gave me and Henry here the money to hold for him. That guy was just trying to save his self. "And he really didn't give you the money" I hoped. "No my dear, I swear on Queenie's grave!" I wished he hadn't said that it gave me the creeps, "but how did you know about Rev. McDonald's plan to have his wife killed and why didn't you ever go to the police?" "I told you Dear, the law was on my trail. Rev. McDonald was out to get me, to get the money he thought I had. When I heard he'd been asking about me and the crazy rumor, that I had hid some money-I decided to visit the other guy involved or so I'd heard he was. It's a small place you've got to remember, we all knew one another. This other poor sap said the money was thrown in the river by the other guy and that the other guy was too scared to tell Rev. McDonald about that, so he made up this cocka mamie story about Henry and me."

Well this whole story was kind of far fetched, but it made a strange sort of sense. I left them and agreed to keep Uncle Conner being alive and everything I'd heard to myself and oh yes--to give him the letters.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Mr. Henry continued, "you see his wife was shot in the bank robbery." "Yes I remember reading about her. I thought it might have been his wife" I motioned him to go on. "He was heart broken you see, she never was right after being shot. He took care of her until her death many years ago. No children, no one to turn to but your grandmother. She went to him not long after it happened. She felt she owed him a visit. Somewhat a denial of the awful rumor that was running around even in some of the papers." "What rumor was that Mr. Henry?" "The one Missy, that said your grandmother's little brother Connor had something to do with the bank robbery." "Oh yes I did hear that. It wasn't true was it?" "Of course not, no brother of that dear lady could have ever done such a thing, but anyway this Rev. McDonald, well he started coming by to see your grandmother bout every week, bout anytime he could get someone to sit with his wife--and before long the whole county had them linked together. It was a horrible embarrassment to Queenie and your grandfather. You see I knew it wasn't true cause I was this close with Queenie and your grandfather. It nearly killed them. "But Mr. Henry" I almost started to tell this man about the letters, but came to my senses and changed my question, "just what became of my grandmother's brother, the one people thought had something to do with the robbery." "Oh, I heard he moved away because of the scandal and died a few years later of a brain tumor. I think your grandmother knew where he was and kept in touch with him least that's what I heard. So you see, just leave this alone Missy. It can't do no good to dredge this old stuff up." I assured him he was right, but still we both agreed I should be weary of the man coming around posing as Rev. McDonald.

William was still up when I went to the kitchen to get some juice. "I can't sleep Carol, I'm overwhelmed with questions and imaginations etc. etc.." He was so dramatic. "Listen William let's just drop this whole thing. Really what good will it do?" "But Carol, that man! Don't you want to know who he is, gee I'm even kinda afraid of him coming around again. Aren't you?" "Yeah I know what you mean, but something tells me we should move on, just do our time here and move on------what was that?" There was a terrible crash. We went flying to the back door and out into the yard. "What the hell---shuuuu shhuuu--I held my hand over William's mouth. I could hear my heart beating or William's. On the side of the house we could only see it was a man. What was going on? What did he want? Who was he? What was I going to do about it? When was this going to end and how? This was getting dangerous--duh! What had I been thinking--time to go to the police with maybe everything we knew. I'd have to do it without Daddy knowing and soon.

The next afternoon when William got home from work, we went to the police station in town. I hadn't shared the Henry disclosure about Rev. McDonald being dead not even to William, but I was about to.

Captain Smith had been on the force for some time. I didn't know him personally, but had heard good things and felt I could trust him. I gave him all the lurid details as William's jaw dropped to hear Rev. McDonald was dead. As I hoped Captain Smith seemed just as eager to find out who this Rev. McDonald want to be was and sooner than later. He arranged to stake out our house the next couple of nights. The first one our elusive Rev. McDonald was a no show.

The next day I had taken another one of my walks, I had come to love. They cleared out all this mess around me and made me remember why we were here. To dream of the future, although I was feeling more and more unsure of a future away from this place. It seemed I had truly come home again.

As I started back by the mailbox, I saw a note sticking our. "Dear Carol please meet me at the library at 1pm. I'll be on the side near the drugstore. Please show up and please come alone. Don't be afraid I mean you no harm. I will finally explain who I am" signed "Rev. McDonald"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The cold air was breath taking. The leaves were snapping as I took a short walk that Monday morning. Part of me was sorry I had found the letters. They had taken so much of my attention. Was I missing the whole point of this stay. Of the reason Queenie had made the bequest. This was such a beautiful place. As the few birds flew over I felt a peace. Their flight was like music, the music of my childhood. The days of playing in the vegetable garden and nights of listening to the crickets and frogs. Mason jars with lightning bugs. My brother used to think they could electrocute him. He was always scared of the strangest things, even of pencils when he was young.

Soon the time allotted for our family's stay would be over and strangely enough I wasn't ready for it. Maybe I would talk to Daddy about John and I moving in the house permanently. We'd see.

My giddy feeling would be short lived. For as I rounded the hill I saw in the drive a car and it looked like the old guy from the library getting out. I saw him go to the door. It seemed that no one was answering, but I knew Charlotte and Ellen were at home at least. He got in his car and drove off. I was running hard to catch him, but he was gone. I was almost unable to breath by the time I got to the house. I inquired of all why they hadn't gone to the door. Must have been Ellen playing the piano and Charlotte running the vacuum. Figures crazy neat freak. I was off to the library.

I don't know why I was speeding the whole way there. He probably hadn't hardly had time to get back even if he was returning to work. Yes there was his old car. I tripped up the brick steps. Normally I would have been horrified, as a half dozen people saw me strewn out like an idiot, but I was only concerned about what this old man knew. Cal Henry had worked a t this library since anyone could remember. He was a slight old man with lots of white hair and extremely long legs for his body. He had a sadness about him although he tried hard to be the grouchy old man everybody expected him to be. Still he was pretty weird.

I lightly tapped his shoulder. "Damn Miss you scared the dickens out of me, you know I just came from your place." "Yes, sorry my sisters didn't hear the door, but I'm here now. What did you want." "Come with me." He lead me down a flight of concrete stairs down to a damp musty smelling room, where he quietly shut the door. "Now listen young lady, what I'm about to tell you can go no further, you understand." I nodded and braced myself for what might come. "Your grandmother Miss Queenie was a fine woman, one of the finest I've ever known. What makes you so interested in that bank robbery so long ago anyway?" "Well Mr. Henry you see there's this man that's been coming around Grandmother's house, since we've been staying there (everybody had heard by now of our family's bequest thing), I wonder if you know him, Rev. McDonald?" "Listen child I don't know what game you're playing, but I don't have time for this!"He started to get up, but I grabbed his arm catching his sleeve. He almost lost his balance. My face reddened. I was taking this way too seriously, coming close to making an old man fall. He sat back down and steadied himself. I tried a different approach . "I'm sorry Mr. Henry I didn't mean to grab your arm like that." "Listen here Miss I don't know who's been visiting your grandmother's house, but it ain't Rev. McDonald, he's been dead some twenty years now." My heart started to beat faster and my hands were sweating. I knew it! I knew that if Rev. McDonald had written those letters and I still didn't know if he had--that the man who had been coming around had always seemed like he was hiding way too much! And he still looked very familiar. The plot was thickening!

"Well Mr. Henry I had my doubts that the Rev. was who he said he was, I wish you could see him. You were going to tell me something though, right." Henry leaned forward."I just want you to know I don't have any proof of anything you hear me--well it starts with Rev. McDonald oddly enough."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I left the library unaware that someone was following me or that I was slowly running out of gas. I barely made it into cousin Jake's gas station. I gassed up and was on my way back to the house. As soon as I pulled in, I saw him, through my rear view mirror. "Hello young lady, sorry did I startle you"? This time I had an entirely new opinion of this so called Rev.. "Oh my dear I saw you coming out of the library so I decided to come by and say hello. So you and your family are still staying in your grandmother's house? he asked" I walked toward the house trying to dismiss this guy or else I feared I might have blown up at him. "Oh I think I am bothering you Missy, I'll be on my way" he pouted. "Just what is it you want Mr. McDonald or who ever you really are" I stared as I spoke. "Why, what did I do to offend you dear?" he asked. "Listen, don't call me dear and don't come around here anymore" I shouted. He started to leave. "But wait you tell me how was it you knew my grandmother, just what was your relationship really?" Rev. McDonald's face reddened and I swear I saw him clinch his hands. He calmed himself, taking a step toward me and for some reason I flew in the porch locking the door behind me. Something told me this wasn't the man who had written those gentle love letters to my grandmother, or maybe if Rev. McDonald had- this was not Rev. McDonald.

It seemed I was the only one home. I made myself a cup of tea and decided I would tell someone about the letters. The tea was relaxing me. I had learned to tolerate tea since our stay. It was all anyone else liked to drink. Charlotte had brought with her an extensive collection of rare herbal concoctions, which actually were beginning to grow on me, especially the raspberry and onion blend. Charlotte was such a nut, such an outrageous yet lovable mix of drama and spiritual emotion, even though Ellen was the pastor it was Charlotte who delivered much of the unwanted religious advice.

I finished my tea as Ellen returned from the market. She had a bounty of turnips, cabbages, rutabagas, potatoes, carrots, kale, and pounds of beef and even some venison. "They have some beautiful vegetables, don't you think" Ellen smiled. "Yeah yeah, I'm glad it's just you and me. Ellen I've got to tell you something you won't believe it but Grandmother had a lover" I blurted out. "You been into Charlotte's herbal blends I see" joked Ellen. "No, no listen to me." I pulled her along and stopped at the closet bottom. We sprawled on the floor as Ellen opened and read and dropping her jaw could only exclaim "hmmmmmm mmmmm oh...Carol you've got to get rid of these immediately, you know that right" she stressed. "Are you crazy Ellen, listen there's more. You know that crazy Rev. McDonald that's been coming around, well I think he's the author of these letter, but only he's not really Rev. McDonald or well I don't have it all figured out yet. Ellen patted my head in an amused way,"listen that's somebody, put those away now!"

At dinner Ellen avoided my eyes, but I had already made up my mind to bring it up then. "Hey everybody." It was the weekend so all were there. "I've got something I need to tell everyone" I started. "Have some more rutabagas Mom" Ellen tried to distract. "Do the name Ruby Begonia mean anything to ya" William joked. "What are you talking about it's rutabagas" scolded Joanie. "But rutabagas always remind me of that Flip Wilson line" laughed William. Ellen laughed uncharacteristically, only to delay or prevent my telling what she knew I was about to tell.

"Grandmother had love letters" I stated. "Oh really dear, that's sweet" sang out Mother. "No no not from Granddaddy " I argued. "An old boyfriend probably" said somebody. "No not an old boyfriend, a man-while she was married, I think" I was starting to think this was a bad idea. "Just what are you saying Carol?" asked Daddy. "You know I came home today to find Carol gulping down that darn tea mixture of yours, Charlotte, I don't know what you've got in that stuff" Ellen was trying. "My teas are wonderful, let her talk Ellen" Charlotte was interested. I finished my story and not much was said. Mother said I shouldn't have let Daddy know. I did feel a little sorry for that. but we had to deal with the truth and that was my intent.

The sun was blazing in my window as I turned to check the clock, wow it was late 10am. I guess I had a restless right after my abrupt disclosure of Grandmother's indiscretion. Oh well big deal. It was so long ago. Everyone just needed to get over it and help me solve this mystery of Rev. McDonald.

The house was unusually noisy for a Sunday morning. Guess everyone had skipped out on church. My parents were the only ones who had gone to the little church down the road, Liberty Baptist Church. Grandmother had gone there and her mother before. Her daddy had never darkened the door, but great-grandmother was a charter member. My daddy was treated like royalty whenever he attended. He was the country boy who had made it good in the big city. Mama and Daddy certainly weren't wealthy, but always had enough. Grandmother had definitely embellished Daddy's salary to anyone who cared to listen. I always felt sorry for my uncle Alvin, my daddy's younger brother. He had stayed down the way, just a few lots from Grandmother's house. He had done probably equal to Daddy in monetary ways, maybe better, but he was never bragged about. It never appeared to bother him. It would have me.

Charlotte had made a load of pancakes and was serving me up some. "Carol you and I've got to get this thing figured out. Where's those letters?" A part of me didn't want to share this scandal too much, especially with Charlotte. I knew she would take over and I'd be robbed of the satisfaction of figuring it out. "Carol did you hear me." I'll get them, just let me finish my pancakes would ya." I used the time to decide just how much of the letters I would share with her. Suddenly I wished I hadn't told anyone at all.

Later as Charlotte and I went through the letters- i held out a few-, Charlotte agreed that this Rev. McDonald guy needed much more attention. "Have you looked up in the directory, Carol?" "Yes and he said he hadn't lived here for some time anyway. I've even gone to the library." "Well, what did you find out" Charlotte was really getting into this, just like I knew she would. "Not much. I was looking for papers with more information about the bank robbery. I was also hoping to find out more about the woman that was shot the one named McDonald." "Well, well did you find anything out?" "No no and the clerk, that old guy, remember he's somebody in our family related somehow. He acted so weird, said maybe I didn't need to stir things up or something like that. He actually gave me the creeps, and by the way, that same day that Rev. McDonald followed me home from the library." "He did! What did he say?" "Not much. He's always so southern and polite, but I think I touched a nerve with him, when I lost patience with his small talk. I blew sorta up at him. I swear he was seething inside, kinda scared me so I ran in the house like a fool." "Okay, okay Carol I'm on it for sure now, I don't care what old Ellen says!"

"Hey, what are you two cackling about? Can I play?" joked William. We clued him in on everything and the three of us were on a mission.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Tap tap swish swish, okay okay, I'm up what time was it. I woke myself up shaking my head to help. That stupid branch was beating against the shutters again. John had to cut that down tomorrow. It wasn't the first time it had woken me since our stay had begun. The wind was sure howling. I heard others walking around and guessed it had awakened somebody else, too probably Charlotte or William. They were both light sleepers like me. I pulled on my robe, deciding I was a little hungry, maybe someone was already making a snack. As I started down the stairs I froze in my tracks. There was someone up alright, but they were using a flashlight. I couldn't breath. I didn't know whether to run or stay frozen. I decided the later. I peeked around trying my best not to make the stair boards creak. Suddenly I was more curious than terrified. I must be dreaming, I started to think, but the hot liquid pouring down my legs clued me I was indeed awake. Suddenly there was a figure. I couldn't make it out, but it seemed to be a man. He left through the back door, at least I thought. I waited a minute or two. I knew I had to get someone else up. I wasn't about to go down there alone, but I had to clean myself up first. I woke John and pretty much everyone else in the house. Strangely enough Mama and Daddy who were on the first floor, never stirred. Still we checked them to see if they were truly just sleeping, they were.

Rudy and John went into the living room first with William huddled behind them. Craig was still sleeping. "You guys better come here" cried Rudy to all. We stood in the doorway peering around each other. "Here's your burglar" mused John, pointing to that picture of my uncle. The one that had mysteriously fallen before. "And I guess who ever played the player piano last, forgot to pick up their mess" said Rudy. We looked to see dozens of player rolls scattered on the floor. We each insisted we hadn't done this, but still everyone was doubting I had seen anyone. We checked the side door, it was shut, but unlocked. There was my proof, but Rudy confessed he had left it unlocked accidentally. "Mystery solved!" cried John. I didn't argue. I knew someone had been there and probably it wasn't the first time since we had been staying in the house. All I had to do was figure out who it was and what they wanted. I decided that the next day I would tell someone about the letters.

The next day was Saturday. All would be around the house. Everyone was going to pitch in and start going through all of Grandmother's things. I made sure I took the closet where the letters were. We all broke for lunch. I was just about to go ahead and tell all at once of my discovery, when William came up with an old scrap book. " Hey Dad did you know there was a bank robbery here way back" asked William. "Oh yes I was about ten or twelve or so when it happened. It was big news around here" said Daddy. "But why did Grandmal keep a scrapbook about it?" asked William. "She was fascinated by it for some reason. Daddy and I never really understood why either. We just figured it was because it was such big news here" said Daddy. "And also because your mother knew some of the boys that were suspected of the robbery" said Mother. "It says here that a woman was wounded also" said William.

"Oh yeah I remember now it was some pastor's wife, from around here. Let me see that" Daddy reached for the scrapbook, searching the article for the woman's name."Here it is her name was Martha McDonald." ........McDonald ..pastor's wife...McDonald.. Quentin McDonald! I screamed.....that's the wife of the man Daddy that came by here a while back..the one you didn't remember, I reminded him. "Oh oh , okay , it's been such a long time since I've heard his name" insisted Daddy. "I never even knew Mama knew him. What on earth was he coming around here for" asked Daddy.

I wondered. Now I was convinced that Quentin McDonald was Queenie's love. The man whose letters she had kept all these years. This wasn't the time to bring them up.

"Says here no one was ever caught for the robbery" said William. "That's right, although everyone always thought it was several young men around here. Is a matter of fact uncle Connor knew some of the boys" said Daddy. "Your father won't tell you all this, but your uncle's disappearance was thought to be connected to something he knew about the robbery" said Mother.

"He was suspected of the robbery was he" I asked.

"No no he was just friends with Cally Thombs the kid, well he wasn't exactly a kid I guess, he was around nineteen or twenty, but anyway uncle Connor was thought to know something. He was either running away from or it was rumored he might have been murdered for what he knew' said Daddy.

William grabbed the article reading it aloud. "Huh that's pretty amazing. Did people really think uncle Connor knew some of the guys that did it." "Yeah nobody ever was sure if he knew anything or not, as I remember Mama saying uncle Connor was never heard of again. He probably was murdered" insisted Daddy. "I wouldn't put anything past your family, it wouldn't surprise mi if your uncle was in on it" quipped Mama.

I decided after breakfast I was going to the library in town to check this out. Some how the whole thing intrigued me and for the time made Grandmal's love affair look pretty tame.

It was late afternoon when I arrived at the only library in town. It was a neat old building, a two story brick, long narrow structure with skinny windows, that had glass distorted somewhat. This library was started in 1805. It was still heated by old radiators that had been it's "update system" decades ago. I remembered going to it many times as a child. My cousins June and Billy and I would walk to it by ourselves. Once we sneaked up in the second floor storage room and smoked our first cigarettes, don't know why we didn't try it behind a barn or something. The librarian caught us and called my grandmother who immediately sent me packing back home. She never told my parents. They thought she wasn't feeling well and that's why she sent me home. She knew she had to punish me but I guess she was afraid if they knew, I had smoked, they wouldn't let me come back. It was one of our little secrets. Seems Grandmother was better that I knew at keeping secrets.

Cal Henry was still working at the library. I couldn't believe it. What was he 150 by now. Old Cal was a hoot a real character. I told him what I wanted to look up. He quickly took me aside and what he said made me know I was on to something big.

"You don't wanna go dredging that up do ya. Why don't you just take a good old fashioned "love novel" (as he called them) and leave things be."

As I insisted that no was not an option, he practically jumped in front of me, as I tried to enter the records room. "You can't go in there now anyhows, bugs, bugs just everywhere. We just had it sprayed with that there bug juice. I wouldn't want you getting sick or something" he said. "I'll take my chances I told him. "Have it your way missy. You'll see you'll see what I mean one day, don't say I didn't warn you" he hissed.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Charlotte was raking the yard and part of the field between Grandmal's house and aunt Carrie's. She had a fire going and she was in heaven. I'd never seen anyone like my mother and Charlotte, that loved raking so much and burning a huge smoking pile of crunchy crackling wonderful smelling leaves and brush! We used to tease Charlotte that she was a pyromaniac and that it was probably her who had set her neighbors garage on fire a few years back. I secretly was serious about the accusation. I think she accidentally did it of course. She was never charged.

Ellen was in a cooking mood. She could bake! Her homemade bread would melt in your mouth. I was afraid we were all going to leave twenty pounds heavier. I couldn't afford to gain anymore weight. I had always been the smallest of the sisters up until my first two children were born. After that I just started piling it on. Ellen and I were constantly on a diet. Mother who had a weight problem most of her life, was now quite slender. Charlotte who was always tall but never over weight, was now getting up there too.

We all knew we didn't have much longer to fulfill our agreement so I guess we had started to try harder to make some good memories. It was working. We were beginning to enjoy each others company, at least some of the time. We also figured it wouldn't be long before the money would be our reward for time served.

The sun was unusually hot for an October day. We were having a late Indian Summer. It was beautiful. I couldn't breathe in enough of the delicious weather we were having. I decided I would do a little house cleaning, looking through closets that we hadn't done that first week we were there. They looked like they haven't been cleaned out in decades. I stretched out on the floor, ready for a day of exploring, hoping to find some treasure long forgotten. A secret hidden away where no one would suspect. I never expected to find what I did.

I read them over and over, unable to grasp what I had seen written. Could it be true? The letters had been tucked away in an old hat box, inside the hat itself. There were dozens of them maybe fifty or more. Each one on it's own was enough to tell the story.

Dearest Queenie,

How I have thought about you every second since we last spoke. Not a moment goes by that I don't regret leaving. That I swear to myself I'll come back and fight to be with you, no matter the cost, no matter the guilt. Then she calls me and I have to go to her. She is so weak these days, so unaware of the month or even the time of year. I know it's selfish to think of you so when she is suffering as she is, but I can't help myself. It's like I've gone mad. I'm sorry to ask you to bear this burden with me. I never should have allowed my feelings to touch you. I'm sorry for deserting you my love, but I can't help but believe that one day we will truly be together again. Until then all my love and admiration.

Yours forever

There was no signature. I searched the other letters for one, none were there, and each being in their own envelope had no return address. Could it be, did Grandmother have a lover, but who and when. There were no dates on the letters and the envelopes postmarks I was unable to make out. The letters were very worn, as if she had read them over and over. Maybe Grandmother had been involved after Granddaddy died after all she was still a young woman when he died. Why had she never spoken of this man? Was it because of this person he spoke of in his letters? It certainly made it seem that he was speaking of a wife that was bed ridden or something. That must have been the only reason they hadn't been together. Surely it was after my grandfather's death!

I hid the letters back where I had found them. Would I share this discovery with Ellen or Charlotte probably not William, certainly not Mother and not Daddy. Maybe aunt Carrie knew something about this man. After all Grandmother had lived with her and my uncle the last few years of her life.

I decided I wouldn't tell anyone about the letters for the time being. Each day for the next week, whenever everyone else was busy outside the house, I scurried to the closet again, re-reading each letter for some clue as to who this mystery man in my grandmother's life was. Rev. Quentin McDonald kept coming to my mind. Was he the one? Had he returned to his love when he heard she was ill, only to find she had died? Maybe that was why he was interested in Grandmother's house, but why would he want to live in this old house anyway? He had too be close to eighty or so. If it was him Queenie had certainly been robbing the cradle! This was all too insane. How was I going to not tell anyone about this? I wondered if I could possibly keep this awful but delicious secret.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

cont- QUEENIE'S BEQUEST--6TH entry

Ellen was elected to answer it. The knocking was insistent. We crowded around the door. "Who is it we asked". "It's Carrie, open up!." We flung the door open. Aunt Carrie flew inside, almost pushing Ellen over. "What's wrong" we asked. "There was someone walking around outside my house. I watched and saw them running down the other direction". She panted gasping for air between words. Carrie lived about two lots away, but it was still quite a little walk for someone her age, not in the best of health and to make matters worse, she had run! "I tried to use the phone" she continued, "but it's dead, have you tried yours lately?" Charlotte got the phone. It was dead also. "Did you get a good look at him" William asked? "Yes he looked vaguely familiar and before he knew I saw him he seemed to be just looking around, like he was lost. It scared me to death" Carrie cried.

Carrie stayed with us that night. We found out the next day that all the phones in the area were out that night, but we still hadn't a clue about the strange man Carrie had seen, or did we. From the moment Carrie told us of the stranger, my mind had gone to the recent visit of Rev. Quentin McDonald. The Rev. no one remembered. The familiar face could they be connected? I thought so.

It was September and the family thing was starting to grow old. Ellen was anxious to get back to her church. William was pretty much back to work full time during the days. Mother was sure no amount of money should be worth this. She was tired of cooking for so many as she usually ended up preparing the dinners. My father was probably the only one content to wait out the time. After all this was his boyhood home. Everyone was walking on egg shells at first, but now we were all too eager to give our opinion on just about everything. Of course most of the opinions were far and wide apart from the other. There were so many arguments, that one night we decided this was the time to get it all out once and for all. So what if anyone ended up not speaking for the rest of our lives. We'd had enough of each other for a life time.

Charlotte started the "discussion"- "I would like to know once and for all what's the problem with this family, why are you all professing Christians, but no one wants to ever talk about it. I don't get that." "Well maybe it has something to do with the fact it's all you ever talk about" I claimed. "She's right" agreed Ellen. That's all it took. IT ALL CAME OUT! One by one we let Charlotte have it. Each confessing our discomfort at her constant spiritual assessments of never being able to measure up. Daddy walked out of the room when Mother let it out that she'd been told by me, Charlotte didn't even think some or most of our family were saved. It was true, Charlotte had scolded me many times on the inadequate and lost condition of our family! Charlotte started to speak in "tongues" and that's when it really got crazy. Ellen started quoting the Bible, reciting parts that she believed said there were no more "tongues" today. Joanie began to tell about some woman "Lilith" that was Adam's first wife, while William, whom I believed enjoyed it all had the nerve to bring up evolution. I had to tell him that Darwin himself denounced evolution and had even become a Christian before he died. He was sure that wasn't right. Ellen confirmed it and of course he took her word for it.

These kinds of scenes were rare for our family, but always under the surface. We are all so different in our lives and temperaments . Charlotte is fiery and has the red hair to match, but there's a side to Charlotte that's calm peaceful especially when she's gardening or cooking, two of her passions. She and Rudy have four children. Andrew the oldest, he's like Rudy, very studious, quiet and gentle. Then there's Lany just the opposite of Andrew. Lany's Charlotte's spit. It's really uncanny. Then there's Shelley, a beautiful young woman, she is a model and lives in New York. Shelley's the black sheep of that family. Charlotte cried for a month when she moved to New York City with her boyfriend. Kelsey's the baby he still lives at home and goes to school where they live. Charlotte calls him twice a day. She really is a good mother in many ways.

Ellen the smart sister is also the quiet one, always in control always decisive always respected. Craig and Ellen have three girls, Debbie, Marsha and Beverly. They're all pretty much alike, great girls all in college away in Virginia. Ellen also has a son from her first marriage to the wild one. I'm afraid he took after his father, wild and aimless a real embarrassment to Ellen's almost perfect family.

My two oldest kids Brian and Doug, are both in dental school. they are great kids but did manage to give us plenty of grief in their teen years. My girls Kellen and Amy are both married already--way too young. They are both still in school though and Kellen still lives at home with her husband Kyle. Amy has a one year old little boy, Neal and that makes me the youngest grandmother of the sisters.

William will make a great grandfather but neither of their boys are even seeing anyone special that I know of. I know my mother regrets the fact that William and Joanie never had a child together. She always told me how much she wanted William to have a little girl. It's probably just as well they never had any more children. Out of all of us they are certainly the most social of the family. My brother golfs, belongs to mens groups that kind of thing. Joanie has more best friends than Emelda Marco had shoes!

The garden was starting to pop over with pumpkin, my father had planted in my grandmother's garden. We hadn't seen that garden produce anything in years. My grandmother used to work like a dog. I guess that's where Charlotte gets her love of gardening. It's funny the little things you find you have adopted from grandparents. It's like my grandmother always signing a Bible verse on any card or note she would send anyone. For years I thought it was so corny, but the last few years I find myself doing this.

Queenie was truly a sweet person, unassuming and long suffering, hardly ever complaining. If the truth be known, I think I'm more like her than any of us--humble too.

It was the middle of September and leaves were beginning to change. They always did change a little earlier here where my grandmother lived. I breathed in the crisp morning air, glad to be alive, even glad to be here in this house with all my family-almost. I really missed my kids who were not going to be able to visit as much now with the fall semester being tougher. We only had about three months left of our stay, and in a way I was sorry to be leaving here before Christmas. I remember so many Christmas dinners here. Huge trees, tacky ornaments, some of which are coming back in style now. Bubble lights, paper ornaments. I loved it all. The old house was beginning to feel the autumn chill. If you were in the living room you were toasty with it's massive oil space heater, but except for a couple of small space heaters for the bedrooms, that was the only heat in the house. We sometimes used the old wood burning cooking stove in the kitchen just for extra heat, it was really kind of neat. The air down in the country always had a smokey smell in the fall. It was intoxicating to me. What would it be like to live here all the time, I often wondered. I secretly fantasized about living in this old house permanently. John would have loved it, but the commute had already taken it's toll on him. Yes we definitely were creatures of convenience. Why was I becoming so romantic about this place and sentimental. I had always prided myself on how unsentimental I was, a trait I almost considered a virtue. But now I was melancholy, reflective. It was new for me.

I would look back in the field between Grandmother's house and Aunt Carrie's and I could see it plain as day. Sunday afternoon, hot and dry, everyone full from lunch, lazily sitting around the front porch. Then someone, Charlotte or Uncle Alvin would say "anyone up for baseball". We'd all run out, no one was any good and everyone wanted to pitch. Usually Daddy would get to or William. We weren't the "Kennedy's" but we did have our moments- that was one of them. We were great. Never did we imagine when we were playing at baseball, that those days would be no longer. That some would die and others would grow apart. That life would change.

Friday, February 4, 2011

cont-QUEENIE'S BEQUEST---5th entry

Later that evening as we all sat on the porch, trying to cool off. It had been a usual hot July day. The guys had installed the new window units and we were hoping the house would feel cooler by the time we retired for the night. I told everyone about pastor McDonald's visit, but no one not even my father could place him.

The next few weeks were filled with unexpected events. Storms were frequent and severe. There was even a couple of small tornadoes. No real damage was done to our immediate area, but people not ten miles away had a huge mess to clean up. Thankfully there were no casualties.

It still was a wonder to me, just sitting or swinging on that old front porch, listening to the rain pelting away at the tin roof, such a soothing familiar sound. We all played endless games of checkers and on especially rainy long days a game we played as children, the "I see something game". Someone would choose something obscure in the room saying I see something whatever color it was until someone guessed it.

One rainy night, unable to sleep, I decided to get up and venture downstairs. The old house was pretty scary at night, with it's creaks and settling sounds. I often wondered how my grandmother lived there so many years alone. I would have gone crazy I think. I entered the downstairs hallway, stopping dead in my tracks, listening to a sound I couldn't distinguish. Maybe someone else was up. As I got up the nerve to round the corner to the living room, I gasped. The large portrait of my great uncle Connor, fell to the floor. The thing was creepy enough just hanging there. Connor was the youngest of my grandmother's siblings. He had moved away when he was around twenty. The portrait made him look forty. A lot of the pictures people had done then were like it, solemn, cold, haunting. I picked up the picture, barely checking to see if it had broken. I just wanted to re-hang it and get the heck away from it. His eyes stared at you, stared wherever you were. He was handsome though. Grandmal had said my father looked like him, I could see it. Good it hadn't broken, I flew back to bed!

The next morning I told Ellen about the picture falling. She said it was probably a "hant". She was making fun of what my mother would always say, meaning something was haunted. We decided to stay up late that night and tell old stories we'd all heard a dozen times, but still would manage to give you a chill.

Charlotte started first. "I'm gonna tell one about Grandmal Miller" she said. Grandmal Miller was my mother's mother. I knew the story she was going to tell, it was a good one.
"One cold rainy night Grandmal was doing some private duty nursing at and old house in town that had been converted into a recovery hospital. It was late about eleven or twelve. She needed to call the corner pharmacy for her patient's medication. She made the call unlocked the door and lay down on a cot next to her patient. She was tired but didn't plan to go to sleep. While she slept the pharmacy delivered the meds as they had done before and left without waking grandmother. While Grandmother lay sleeping, another man came to the door. This one did awaken Grandmother, but as soon as she opened her eyes to see him coming through the door, she knew it wasn't the pharmacy boy. The man was crazed, probably looking for drugs. Grandmother lay still, pretending to sleep. The man ransacked the tiny hospital room and quickly left, leaving the door ajar. Grandmother waited a second then jumped up running to the door to shut and lock it. As her hand touched the doorknob, someone on the other side grabbed it, and held the door. Grandmother felt her heart pounding. In an instant he pulled the door from her hand and slammed it shut! Grandmother frantically locked the latch. She peered ou the sid window to see if he had gone, she screamed! There was his face staring back at her. He laughed, a menacing howl, running away wildly into the black street."

When Charlotte had finished her rendition of Grandmother Miller's tale, we each took our turn. Each trying to tell the best ones we could remember. But the one William would tell, left us all with an eerie feeling of something.

William began,"in this house right down this hallway" William stood, raising his arm high, pointing with his finger, head turned aside. "Our great grandmother came face to face with a real live ghost, but not just any ghost. NO! The ghost of her dearly departed Clarabelle. The story so goes. One blustery October night, just days after the much too, early death of dear great aunt Clarabelle, our great grandmother walked these floors trying to get baby Claralee to sleep. Claralee, the baby Clarabelle had died giving birth to- one week shy of her nineteenth birthday, which just happened to be October 31th-just a coincidence- that being OL HALLOWS EVE--I DON'T THINK SO" William cackled, being his truly dramatic self. As dearest Grandmother finally was able to quiet the child, she put her in her cradle, yes her cradle! Down this hall in the bedroom our mother and father are sleeping in at this very moment. Some time during that night, somewhere around midnight October 31th. Grandmother awoke to little Claralee crying uncontrollably. She sat up in bed, sled her cold feet into her slippers and was about to go comfort the baby, when a great wind knocked her back. As she caught her breath and steadied herself, she looked over at Claralee and there at the foot of her cradle was a figure, singing in a strange voice. Grandmother reached for her spectacles, rose to her feet. She tried to speak, but couldn't- was she awake. She bite her lip, yes she was indeed awake. There rocking her baby was her precious Clarabelle. She reached to touch her but she was gone, but Claralee's cradle continued to rock back and forth back and forth all through the night." As William finished there was a hard knock at the door. We nearly jumped on top of one another. Who could that be at that hour?

Thursday, February 3, 2011


John and I didn't talk much on the ride home. My mind was reeling. Had I heard what I thought I heard. Grandmother was worth one million! No there must be some mistake.

"Penny for your thoughts or maybe I should say $1000000" John joked. "I don't know what I'm thinking. What do you think?" I asked John. "Well Carol it's not too hard to figure out it was spelled out pretty plain. What don't you get?" "You're not surprised I take it, you're just as smooth as ever. Nothing fazes you huh" I quipped. "The only hard part to understand is how the hell your family's gonna do it" John laughed. "I know it's crazy isn't it. Guess Grandma's got the last laugh.

Queenie had indeed gotten the last laugh. For when the will was read nobody else was laughing, not exactly. I guess my mother had been right all along. She was hiding loot. Who would have thought it, but one million, no way, she couldn't have had that much.

Grandmother had left half her money and possessions to my father, nothing to my mother or aunt Carrie, who had taken care of my grandmother the last few years of her life. She had left the other half to myself and my sisters and brother to be divided equally. There was one condition. One condition and all would be ours. The condition? We were all to move into her old house, live there six months no exceptions. Could we do it? I certainly didn't know. We had one week to think it over and if we decided not the deal was off! Making it more unacceptable, if one family member my mother, Daddy, Charlotte, Ellen, William or myself did not do it , no one got the money. It was funny she hadn't mentioned our spouses or children.

In her will she had stated, she wanted to give us a chance, a chance of becoming a family again. She said it was the greatest thing she could leave for us. We were sure she was senile and a little evil in her old age.

We were instructed not to consult with one another. She wanted everyone to come on their own, not knowing what the other would choose to do.

As the week was nearing an end I started to panic. John and I had decided to do it and now we were just afraid the others wouldn't and we'd be out our share. I guess our motives weren't off to a great start. All our children being grown pretty much, had decided to opt out. The older two were in graduate school in the summer session. The two younger were taking the summer off and traveling around and such with friends before they started back to school in the fall. I knew they would all be fine and besides we were only an hour away. It was all worked out, but I can't say we were looking forward to it. Was my grandmother crazy, had she really thought this would bring us closer. We'd probably kill each other. We were more like the Calhan's from HEE HAW T.V. show, not the Waltons.

It was nearly sunset when everyone had arrived, but arrive they did. All of us were there. Maybe not looking forward to the next six months, but there none the less.

We all chose our rooms and retired early. John and I took the pink room. It had the same wallpaper all these years. It must have been changed at some point, but no one knew for sure. The house was well over 120 years old. My grandmother had grown up in that house and being the last to marry, she had taken care of her parents in their later years. So naturally she stayed when she and my grandfather were married. It was my grandmother who refused to leave her childhood home. My grandfather, I'd been told was not too happy about it, but he gave in.

Charlotte and Rudy took the sewing bedroom. It had earned that distinction because of an old singer sewing machine that occupied a corner of the room right next to a huge old spinning wheel. It was really kind of creepy I thought and although it was the next largest room, I was more than happy to let Charlotte have it. William and Joanie almost had a fight with Craig about their rooms. One of the bedrooms had a bathroom off of it with only that room the access to it. No one wanted that one. I really think the real reason was because my grandfather and my aunt had died in that room. William and Joanie ended up with that room. Craig insisted his bad back prevented him from the death room as it had been nicknamed. Craig was sure the feather mattress was partly to blame for my grandfather's death, since he had heard he had a bad back too.

Ellen trying to be the peacemaker was willing to take the death room, but William finally accepted it. I think William secretly wanted the death room.

As children we had been fascinated about the room and I'm sure it still intrigued him. Ellen and Craig took the attic room. It was really quite lovely and the largest bedroom. As children we all loved to play up there. Part of the room was storage. I was terrified by that part, but as long as the door was shut to that part I was okay. My parents had taken the bedroom on the ground floor of course.

The sun was blinding me as I tried to open one eye. It was the first morning of our adventure. I stretched, my back hurting from a different mattress. Where was John? What was that delectable smell? I followed my nose down the stairs to the tiny kitchen. John was making breakfast. "Hey honey want some bacon and pancakes, buckwheat even!" John knew buckwheat pancakes were my favorite. He had brought the mix along to surprise me. I hadn't had them since our honeymoon. I had always said how much I loved them, but in all these years John and I had not had them again. They were delicious. John was always quite the cook, messy but good. He loved to create new dishes and did have a flare. "Are we the first ones up?" I asked. What time is it? No and ten replied John. "Where is everybody?" "I fed them too and they're off to the store all except Charlotte and Rudy. They went for a walk. I also called the kids all are well. What's up for today?

We decided to explore. It had been a long time since I had really walked the grounds around the house. I had forgotten how beautiful and lush they were. We met up with Charlotte and Rudy. We picked a massive amount of blackberries and Charlotte promised to make Grandmal's famous blackberry cobble that night. It was a good day.

The first week seemed to fly by, not being too eventful though. We got the kitchen all stocked up, cleaned out some closets, cut down brush and pruned bushes that hadn't been touched for years. Everyone pitched in, some doing more than others, but all trying to make a tense situation better.

One day during the next week something odd happened. A man stopped by, coming to the front door as I was opening it to sweep the porch. "Oh you scared me to death" I cried, clutching my chest. "Sorry dear I thought you probably saw my car pull up" he said. I suddenly became aware of the fact that there was only us girls there. John had gone back to the car dealership he ran. Craig back to the tire place he where he worked and Rudy who was retired had gone with my father into town for another air conditioner unit. "Who are you" I asked. "You don't recognize me dear, has it been that long?" he asked. "No I am afraid I don't, what can I do for you" I asked. "I used to be your grandmother's pastor, you must be Charlotte" he said smiling. Not only had he startled me, but now he had insulted me assuming I was ten years older than I was, but of course he probably thought Charlotte was twenty or so. "No I'm Carol" I defended. "Oh yes now I remember, you're the youngest girl aren't you" he said. I nodded. "Well anyhow my dear I hadn't seen your dear grandmother in ages and had heard of her passing. I saw people milling around here the other day when I drove by. I'm sorry I still haven't introduced myself or should I say reintroduced myself. You see I used to give you candy when you came to church with Queenie, I'm pastor McDonald, Quentin McDonald" he said. Still no memory of him, his face or name. "Nice to meet you" I muttered, my mind still racing, trying to place this man. He wasn't as old as my grandmother maybe 20 years or so younger, it was hard to tell. He was quite handsome and there was something about him that reminded me of someone, but I couldn't think who. "Well my dear I just wanted to stop and offer my sympathy. I've just recently moved back to the area, by the way are you going to live here or someone in your family" he asked? "No, no we're all here for the next few months-- it's a long story" I said. He started to leave saying his goodbyes when suddenly he stopped. "If your family ever wants to sell this house please let me know. I'd be very interested indeed."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It's funny how close I had been to my oldest older sister. Ten years apart she was my idol, so beautiful so popular. I wanted to be just like her. We remained close until I was about twenty, even taking day shopping trips together-making sure we always had an outing around Christmas time. She had been so distant in the past couple of decades. We really didn't have much in common and had a hard time communicating. Charlotte had become so angry at the family, especially Mama and Daddy. I'm not sure she was even aware of her bitterness, but it had destroyed so much of her charm and life. She was only certain it was all the things that had been done to her or not done. That she was the only one in the family to have truly found religion.

We had all gone to church as a family growing up. My mother saw to this. Way back she had made my father go. He had been quite the rounder before marrying my mother at twenty, mom just eighteen. We attended a small Baptist church, where my parents are charter members. We all were active in the church. My parents always teaching Sunday School, heading G.A.'s and R.A.'s, leading vacation bible school. You name it they did it. Everyone always remarked what a close family we were and they all think it's still that way.

My sister Ellen is even a co-pastor at a small Christian church, much to her husband's objections, as he doesn't believe in women ministers (they almost divorced over it)

They live in a rural area of our state in a house that Ellen's husband Craig grew up in. It's a neat old house with gargoyles on the roof. It has a lot of charm, but still needed a lot of work.

Ellen was always the brain girl of the family. Charlotte used to tell this joke to anyone who'd listen (in a country southern hick accent). She would tell this story of a family that couldn't blow out the family candle- "Pa would try but he blew up, Ma would try but she could only blow down, Brother would try but he could only blow to the side, then Sister would lick her fingers and putting them to the flame, extinguish it". I always thought of Ellen as that smart sister.

Ellen and I had not liked each other much as little girls. Me being the baby girl and her stuck in the middle. Charlotte teased her unmercifully and I doing whatever Charlotte did would chime in. I remember on one of our trips to the beach we decided to put sand in her bed. She was very fair skinned and blood red from sunburn. It was really mean. We also had nicknamed her "bugger ball Betsy" for some reason. We were cruel-oh well.

Ellen and I did manage to become close in our twenties, doing everything together but when she moved away, an hour trip proved to be enough to change all that.

Craig was Ellen's second husband. A good looking man with quite the gift of gab and a heart of gold. Still he was very much an old fashioned man in much of his thinking, having been brought up in the country. He was quite different from Ellen's first husband Gary.

Gary was the rebel. The rebel that took my sister away to Biloxi Miss. To where he was stationed in the air force. Their first week of marriage found them in the middle of hurricane Camille.

My mother nearly died when Gary started coming around. Ellen had not dated much and certainly no one like Gary. I'll never forget when I first saw him. There he was parked in the street in front of our house, Ellen hanging on his red neck souped up car, bleached blond long straight hair, chain smoking and tattoos to boot. My father refused to come to the wedding and my mother cried for months.

Because of their marriage I did get to travel as far as I'd ever been at that time. I was sixteen and flying for the first time to stay with them in Biloxi. I loved it. My father had tried to bribe me not to go, with the promise of a whole new wardrobe, but nothing could have stopped me.

Ellen and Gary divorced after she caught him with a girlfriend of hers. The last time I saw him, he was at my sister's apartment trying to retrieve some of his belongings. My mother was there and told him off up one side and down the other, chasing him off yelling as she was fond of calling him to me "and don't ever let me see you around here again you sawed off hammered down runt".

It was time for the reading of the will. We were all to meet at the lawyer's office. My mother had always said we were going to be surprised how much money Grandmother had, Mama said it was no telling where she had money tucked away.

Once my grandmother had been staying at my parents house. My mother was putting her things away and discovered my grandmother had brought $5000 in cash just sitting in the bottom of the suitcase. She told my father she didn't know when she would get to her bank again so she wanted to have enough cash on her for the stay--a week.

If she did have money you wouldn't have known it by what she gave you. She had long ago given up Christmas presents. She would give my father five dollars on his birthday and my aunt and mother three. I guess it was how she was brought up.

Queenie was in the middle of ten children, the oldest girl. She didn't have much growing up. My grandfather, never made much money. Queenie would make corn-shuck mats and patch work quilts to sell. They had their own garden and sold some of their crops. It was hard to see how there could have been money to save.

We pulled up to the lawyer's office. There was Ellen and Craig and Mama and Daddy. We got out greeting one another, each of us kissing the other. That was one of the strange things about us. Even though we weren't very close anymore, we always had to kiss and hug each other and again when we would leave.

We walked into the old office building. It had been the old city hall where my grandmother lived. Rudy and Charlotte, William and Joanie were already inside.

"Sit down all, let's get started--I think you are all in for a very great surprise" Paul Angers said. Leaning back in his leather chair putting his glassed on, taking too much time. I guess enjoying his moment of power. We all leaned on the edge of our chairs, trying to appear calm. He read "I Queen Elizabeth Chambers Hargrove being of sound mind and body on this the first day of July in the year nineteen and eighty do hereby bequeath.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


John opened the door, taking us into her foyer. It was filled with old dark wicker with massive heavy dark green patterned cushions. Ellen and I had always admired them too. To the right was the living room. A homey room with an oil space heater. In the winter the younger people couldn't hardly stand to be in there, the heat would knock you out, so my mother and aunt usually sat in the foyer. On one wall was an ugly sofa with a large sofa picture above it. I never cared for the picture and today it hangs over my son's sofa (I had always thought he and his wife had good taste). My son must have felt sentimental about it. It's kind of a woodsy picture with an old shack in it. The coffee table sat in front of the sofa and was always loaded with sit around knick-knack stuff. There was this tea cup and saucer, really ornate. As a child I hated it, but a few years ago as I had started collecting tea cups, my mother took it an gave it to me. I have it on my piano. My grandmother had an old player piano in that room too. We all loved playing that thing. Boy your legs would get a work out! There were so many player rolls. There was this one song I especially liked to play called "Changes". It's funny I had never heard that song anywhere until a couple of years ago we rented a movie, can't remember the name, but it was a recent one set in modern day time. That song was the opening song!

To the left of the foyer was the dining room. I have the china cabinet in my kitchen now. There was so much activity around that table. Always the news from my grandmother and aunt Lily ( she was my grandmother's sister who lived with her) about someone passing away or in the hospital.

As we walked in the kitchen, it was just like I had remembered. You see I hadn't been in the house since my grandmother had gone down to live with my uncle and aunt years before, but it was as I remembered, tiny leaning, the old stove the wood burning kind, the kind you can get now in reproduction. They start around $3000. I have that stove too.

We walked around a little more and as it was starting to get dark, we headed home. No one talked much. My grandmother had been one hundred and four years old. Her death was very expected. But it was more we were leaving. Something you can't recapture, a time a feeling an emotion a part of your life, a place to go, a family. My aunt Carrie whom my grandmother had lived with was still there but my grandmother's youngest son Carrie's husband had died three years before. In a lot of ways the passing of my uncle had changed that part of our family. It had started the death of going to the country.


William was on the phone I heard my son calling me. "Hey, how you doing?" he asked. "Oh hi William, what's going on, everybody okay?" "Yeah just thought I'd see how you were doing".

We started to reminisce. William was so sentimental not emotional. Although I had seen him cry before. He was the pride and joy of my parents. The only son and youngest. Just a few years younger than me. We were probably the closest of the kids. He was the funniest and smallest kid you ever want to see. It's so strange how he turned out to be 6'4" and 200lbs. And as my mother is fond of saying "the handsomest thing you've ever seen". As we were growing up I was quite protective of him. It was really a burden that overwhelmed me and didn't stop until I had my first son.

Whenever I would hear of anything had happening to a little boy I would transfer it to my brother. I continued when my son was born, but the responsibility I felt for my brother took a much needed backseat.

William could always make me laugh. I remember one time when we were teenagers. After dinner, just being silly, he sang and banged on the piano. It's hard to describe, but I've still got it on tape. You can barely hear my brother singing over my constant laughter. It was something about janitor in a drum and whatever it was nuts! I was his best audience. I always thought he should have gone into the entertainment industry. He really does remind me of Tom Hanks. Oh well he didn't, as a matter of fact he's about as far from show business as you can get. He's a very successful insurance broker.

He hadn't been so successful in marriage though. He was on his third marriage. His first two wives left him. Nobody really ever knew why. The first one did leave and immediately moved in with a girlfriend, so we all wondered if that was it. The second, a lovely girl, just up and left one day. I think she suffered from depression. The last anyone heard she was living in New York, unmarried and working for a talent agency. She broke my brother's heart. I used to feel so sorry for him and for some reason whenever I hear the song by Foreigner "I've Been Waiting for a Girl Like You", I always think of my brother and Karen.

His third wife Joanie was so different from the first two, which has proved to be a good thing. She's Italian, funny charismatic and quite the nurturer. She's good for him. They never had any kids together, but they have two grown sons from her first marriage. They were off at college, both in their senior years. Twins, Tim and Tyler. Those boys really had two fathers as their birth father was still very much in their lives and William had been with them since they were very small. Is a matter of fact, it was always amazing to me, how close my brother and Joanie were to her first husband Dave. They are even the Godparents to Dave's daughter with his second wife. Strange if you ask me.

William continued to reminisce about times at Grandma's "hey do you remember me waving the whole way back." I laughed. We had this thing whenever we were leaving no matter what the weather, my grandmother would stand in the driveway and see us off, waving until we were out of sight. As my father would always do a beep on the horn. One time when we left my brother being about 8, I dared him to lean back looking out the back window waving the whole way home. He did it. His reward was to be an hour back rub. He swears he never got it. I can't remember.

William and I finished our conversation and hung up. It was true we were probably the closest of the kids, but that wasn't saying a lot. We would all go sometimes six months maybe longer, without seeing each other or even talking on the phone. It was really a shame, but that was the way it was and no one seemed willing to change it. There were no falling outs sot to speak of just growing apart. Letting our lives get busy, unchanging routines, just not trying to be close, close as we were as children.

I've read books and seen television shows about sisters especially and envied even marveled at how close they were. I saw this piece on T.V. once about these four sisters. One had some king of cancer and they all had rallied around her, seeing her every day. Two of them even moved to be closer to their ailing sister and all going around trying to drum up support for a cure( maybe it wasn't cancer maybe it was M.S.) I thought as I saw these sisters, how lucky they were even the one with the illness. Was it unusual? Were more sisters like mine? Who really knows.