A Question of Respect Part III

Fantastic lightning in the SE Kansas skies of Heartland America... Grace's home
Fantastic lightning in the SE Kansas skies of Heartland America... Grace's home | Source

Grace Hawthorn

Oh, Mine has been a lovely life; and some would say, even beautiful.’ Lying quietly in her bed, Grace Hawthorn’s mind conjured more memories. She had been raised in the clean, fresh southern plaines air, where her imagination could run wild. Unrestrained by the rush of more crowded places and uninfluenced by the urgency of city life, Grace had grown used to taking her time about things while allowing herself the luxury of entertaining intricate flights of fantasy.


From a very young age on, Grace came to realize that she was a little different than the other children who attended Sunday school and weekday classes with her. Though she had a best friend, Laura, and many other companions her own age, she always felt apart. Rarely did she find another who thought as she did; who had questions, who wondered about life; who had ‘great expectations.’ The girls and boys who were around her age, seemed to be content where they were and they expected to follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents. Grace adored her mother and father, and loved her brothers and sister but, she felt a calling; a yearning that was not shared by her family or friends.


***


The frail, forgetful old lady turned her head to look out the window. She could see the sun shining brightly. It was a weekday, and there were many people on the street which ran near the window of her little room. ‘How things have changed,’ she thought. ‘Everyone is in such a hurry. I wonder where they’re all off to.’ During her more lucid moments, Grace was completely aware of her location, her history and her age. She was only a few years from reaching the century mark. Sometimes, when she was fully awake and keenly aware, she wondered at all she’d seen, all the miracles of the modern age. Oh, my, how much I have seen. And the time has just flown by. My, my.


Remembering this, now, so many years later, a tear fell from Ms. Hawthorn’s eye. ‘Oh those were fine days,’ she thought; ‘I have lived a long and good life. I have no regrets, no misgivings and no apologies.’ These thoughts wafted in and out of her semi consciousness as she, again, drifted off into a deep, restful sleep.


From little things to the ‘larger than life’ episodes, a deluge of thoughts filled her consciousness.


Throughout her life, from early childhood on, Grace had kept a diary. She shared her most secret dreams and wishes with this loyal ‘friend,’ never telling another soul of her fantasies. Over the years, as Grace grew weaker, yet remained mentally acute, she continued to write about all the exciting events in her life. She also wrote about the sadness; her sense of loss when a loved one passed, her disappointment in the human condition and so many other, poignant aspects of her life; her observations; her ideas about philosophy, religion, politics, and many other topics which touched her directly and indirectly. Grace had a gift; an ability to speak for others in ways which they might not have been able to speak for themselves. Her empathetic nature made expression so easy and second nature. She’d opine about everything under the sun; giving advice, offering sympathy, lending a kind ‘helping hand.’ Her words were eloquently written, though simple.


Her written words were for her eyes only, though. She thought of her writings as if she were talking to her dear diary. As a young girl, she had kept a day to day history of her life in fact, she had faithfully written her innermost, deepest secrets in the small, tooled leather book which held her hopes and dreams. Each evening, after saying ‘goodnight’ to her parents and siblings, she’d rush up the stairs to her room, light the kerosene lamp and enter another world; a special place all her own. Her diary was her best friend. A faithful, loyal, companion. She knew she could ‘say’ anything and would not be misunderstood.


She had found solace in her writings; which seemed to her as old, tried and true friends. When she felt particularly lonely, she’d sit at her friendly little round table with the creaky chair and pull out the time worn, bound notebook where she kept all her secret thoughts and brilliant ideas. Here, she felt as if she were not alone; so deeply was she occupied by the words she wrote. Oh, she had so many lovely ideas populating her thoughts; she must commit them to paper! Her hands had become stiff and painful with arthritis, and her writing had become barely legible but, Grace Hawthorn continued to write.


There was one note she still needed to pen. This, perhaps, was the most important one of all. She had a message she wanted to share with the world; one that, she dearly hoped, would alter opinions and soften attitudes. She had decided to donate her body to science, with the hope that up and coming young Doctors of Medicine might learn something extra special as they knelt over her supine, still body. She was at peace with this idea; it was to be her last gift in life.


***


‘Oh, I wonder where my dear diary is,’ she worried, awake again; ‘what could have happened to it?’ Just then, a fleeting thought whispered to her, ‘it’s with your note, Grace; all your thoughts, all those unspoken yearnings, all your ideas and dreams are tucked, safely, with The Note.’


Again, because of the simple fact that she was very old and very tired, Grace lapsed into a deep, dream filled sleep.


The young Miss Hawthorn sat by herself beneath the thick, dense canopy of her favorite tree; the one that reminded her of the tall, spreading Maple trees that were native to her Heartland home. Just as when she was a girl, sitting beneath the shade of the beautiful, old trees which lined the long driveway to the farmhouse; now, she enjoyed the same soothing company of this ancient tree. Her favorite novel in her lap, Grace’s eyes took in the beauty of her surroundings. As she did this, the figure of a person came into view; approaching her location. She held her gaze still as the figure drew nearer. A gleam of recognition lit up her bright eyes as a big, joyous smile spread across her face.


Grace welcomed the sight of the handsome, well dressed young man. A smile graced his fetching, attractive face as he came to stand directly in front of her.


She had never married but, Grace was not unfamiliar with love and the excitement of sensual pleasures in her life. She had always been the “black sheep” of her family; she had always had a wanderlust for life as well as a curiosity about the more intimate side of her nature. Grace did not back down or turn away from her sexual side, no, she welcomed the fervor and heated exchanges she and the striking man who stood before her, shared.


They had met while she lived in the big city. “Serendipitous” she had often thought, when thinking about this thrilling gift she’d been given.


Her sweetheart, her lover; her ‘other half,’ had mistakenly entered the big, heavy, beveled glass doors to the foyer of the building in which she acted as the ‘first line of defense.’ (‘Oh,’ she mused to herself as the thought unfolded, ‘such a fortunate twist of fate was this chance encounter!)

He boldly walked right up to her desk, placed both hands firmly on the desk top and looked purposely into her eyes! She felt an immediate electricity coarse through her entire being as she looked back, with as much determination as she could muster; to meet his.


“I’m afraid I’ve made a wrong turn, Miss…..” he said, without a flinch.


“Hawthorn,” she finished his sentence. “Yes?” she responded, also, without flinching.


“I am looking for the offices of Sinclair Oil; I fear I’ve missed my mark.”


Though she was supposed to maintain a professional demeanor at all times, Grace could not help but smile. The Sinclair offices were blocks away from her building. ‘Hmmmm,’ she mused; ‘just why is this attractive man standing before me?’


She proceeded to tell him, in great detail, how to find the Sinclair Oil offices. Blocks away! Again, she could not control the flirty little ‘smirk’ on her face as she reveled in the exchange.


By the time she was finished; he was practically laughing! They both were taking far too much pleasure in the exchange. As she concluded her lecture like presentation, a connection seemed to have developed between the lovely young Grace and the fine looking man.


“Miss Hawthorn,” he began, without missing a beat, “I would like the pleasure of your company this afternoon.”


Grace remained silent, allowing him to continue.


“Would you do me the honor of sharing an early dinner?”


Though the rapid nature of his invitation was not usual and, certainly; in some circles, frowned upon, she felt such an attraction to the man standing near her that, before she could talk herself out of it, she replied; “Sir, I do not, yet, know your name.”


Taken aback; realizing that, indeed, he’d neglected to introduce himself to the pretty young woman with the bright eyes and big smile, he stood straight up, in an involuntary reaction to this unforgivable ‘gaff.’


“I am at fault, Miss Hawthorn, he said as if chastising himself; “I am ……”


Just then, the rotary telephone which sat atop her desk rang loudly. She placed a finger over her lips as she gestured to him that she must take the call.



The phone rang loudly in the main office of the Retirement Home. It’s unnerving jingle woke Grace from a wonderful dream. It seemed so very real. It was about the time she met her sweetheart, who would be with her for many years. Oh, theirs was a torrid and unusual affair. It had begun so unexpectedly, so without warning. He had strolled into her office building, stepped right up to her and swept her off her feet. Theirs was a hot and fiery romance that spanned decades. She often remembered him, through the years. He had awakened in her the most sensual, erotic desires; feelings that just weren’t talked about among ‘good’ people in her life and in America’s Bible Belt. No; this was unchartered territory for the young Grace Hawthorn, almost scandalous! And, she savored every moment of pleasure the two of them shared. They had tapped into a secret; one which cannot be described and is often, elusive; they had an affair that remained ecstatic, electric, stimulating and satisfying. Breaking all the conventional rules of the day, Grace had indulged herself in him and he in her.



Her recollection had been ended too soon. Oh, how she hated that cursed phone!


Grace slipped back into the deepest of sleeps as she, once again, returned in dreams to her beloved childhood home.


The tall grasses and country corn fields were waving; undulating in the afternoon breeze. In the distance could be heard the lonesome, almost mournful sound of a freight train whistle. Grace had always loved this sound. To her, it was the most romantic music to her ears, floating, it seemed, in the wind; carried for miles and miles. She often wondered what it must be like to be on such a train, headed to parts unknown. She knew that many people, during difficult times, used the empty box cars as if they were passenger cars. One time, she had actually seen two young men run along a slow moving train as it passed through the small town. Ten and, even, five miles per hour were the speed limits on the rails when close to or in town. This offered a perfect opportunity for “hobos” to jump on to flat cars and box cars. She thrilled at the sight! How wonderful it must be; to just cast fate to the wind and throw caution aside and set off to see the world by freight train. She knew that the steel rails went through areas that were completely apart from the highways. Climbing to dizzying heights, barely squeezing through old, hand hewn rock tunnels that bore into mountainsides and ran for miles; the trains with the mysterious, melodic whistles followed a path all their own. She wished that she had had the nerve to jump on one of those trains when she had the chance.


Billowing, towering cumulous clouds began to form overhead. In a matter of only a few minutes, the sky was filled with these majestic formations; bringing a warning that a storm was building. Oh, how Grace loved the storms. The sky darkened, the edges of the developing thunderheads grew to a slate gray, and then, the earth became completely still. The calm before the storm!


Grace ran out to the southern lawn, as she always did when an impending storm approached. The glory of it! This beautiful, untamed act of nature! She felt most alive when the storms gathered and, then, exploded with the fury of so much energy. At these times, she didn’t care; she had no worries. She just had to be out in the middle of it; to watch it approach, to feel and be buffeted by the strong winds, to hear the thud and clap of nearby lightning strikes…to see the fantastic display of cloud to cloud and forked lightning as it spread across the sky just above her. Electricity was in the air! Her senses heightened, Grace could feel the strong thumping in her chest as the excitement increased…drawing near; getting closer.



In an instant, a rush of strong, straight line winds surged toward her. The sky was alive with the flash, bang, and sizzle of the electrostatic discharges crashing around her. As the storm grew larger and nearer, lightning bolts gave way to sheet lightning. She’d seen this so many times before; when the storm was right upon her! Her heart beat harder and harder as the excitement grew! Heart hammering in her chest, Grace gazed upon the brightest, most fantastic light display she’d ever seen…………….


There was a gauzy, ethereal feeling in the air. She heard hushed voices; saw, she was certain, the loving gaze of her mother before her. She wasn’t sure but, she thought she caught a glimpse of her sweet little kitten, Sassy; her favorite childhood pet, just out of the corner of her eye. Slowly, she turned her head. Yes! Yes! There was Sassy, her companion of so many years, so long ago. Sassy! She tried to call out but her voice was far too weak. She tried to reach her hand towards the black and white beautiful cat. She just could not move. Grace’s eyes remained on her childhood pet. Oh, how she wished to hold her again. Suddenly, she could feel the warm, soft fur against her face as she cuddled and stroked the beautiful animal. Such comfort in this little gesture; such familiarity and peace...oh, the peace of this sweet reunion…..


End of Part III


© copyright 2012/ All rights reserved / Kathy Novelli
Copyright :: All Rights Reserved
Registered :: 2012-08-01 23:29:38
Title :: A Question of Respect Part III
Category :: Website





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Comments 30 comments

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

What an amazing, compelling, fascinating, ethereal story, Kathy! Your movement through this woman's life is magical.

Beautiful writing. I must find Parts I and II!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Dear Nellieanna; I am very flattered by your amazing comment. Coming from you, whose writing is entirely lovely, enchanting, thought provoking and wise; I am very honored. Thank you. Kathy


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

This is very beautiful. I love how you use flashbacks and dreams to tell us about this woman's life. This is a very engaging story and I want to find out more about her. You leave us wanting more. Well done and well written!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hello susettenaples! Oh, I'm very happy to read your comment; it is just what I hoped to hear from readers. Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging comment. I'll be adding # 4 in a few days. Thank you!


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Kathy,

This was awesome! I enjoyed every minute of it, was engaged the whole way through! I could not put it down! :) Totally enjoying this series Kathy! :)


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Josh...you are an angel...hey, tell me (honestly)....what happened in this hub? Can you tell what I tried to relate at the end?


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

I thought you were trying to convey the fact that she wanted to be young again(reference to childhood pet), to relive those beautiful memories. But, at the same time, shes knows she has lived a successful life..."I have lived a long and good life. I have no regrets, no misgivings and no apologies."

It seemed to me, that although she had lived a good life and had no regrets, that she wishes for a moment to return and relive those experiences.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Thanks, Josh....so appreciate your very astute understanding....at the end, the incredible storms; seeing her childhood pet again; seeing her mother....she is at the end...this is it, as MJ would say....did that come through? I'm working on it and am not sure how it is being 'read.' I really appreciate your comment; as you are right on target w/her last thoughts....thank you so much. Kathy


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Kathy,

You are welcome! I can definitely feel that the character is battling the urge to go back(but just to relive those memories), although she knows she has lived life to the fullest with no regrets. So instead of going back, she relives them in her dream world. Your idea of her being at the end definitely came through! :)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Just telling it like it is, Kathy! I love beautiful writing! You didn't ask me, but I think she was reunited with her loved ones, including her Sassy; - possibly in heaven. When my beloved George died - just before the last moment, I heard our two kitties, Camille and Toulouse with their distinctive voices - they were greeting him.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Dear Josh, thank you so much for being my "sounding board." I truly appreciate your insights and interpretation. Kathy

Dear Nellieanna, Thank YOU, too. Yes, you are right; this was the end for Grace Hawthorne. Yes, she was reunited with her family and her sweet Sassy....I believe you, Nellieanna; and I am assured, through your experience. Thank you so much. Kathy


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 4 years ago from Texas

Such an engaging tale. Seems like exerpts from your life were intertwined with the short story. How did I know? Because Icould feel the emotion and excitement. Lovley, lovely tale...


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Absolutely awesome and engrossing! I agree all the way with Nellieanne. I identify with Grace Hawthorn - amazing!

Your plot is excellent, Kathy, and your style of writing truly captivates me :)

Looking forward to the #4. Brat!

Lol!


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

She is so sweet and I love her faith to stand out in a storm. I used to do that when I was younger. The back and forth with characters and time keeps the reader on one's toes. That is a good thing. It is exciting and yet nostalgic. I really like where I think this is going. Regards, Hyph.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Good morning dear Augustine, my dear Martie and sweet Hyphenbird. I am so pleased at these comments; thank you. I have to admit, I cried at the end of my own story! (!!) Grace was a good woman and her story deserves to be told. John Spencer is a good young man; and he will make a difference ...... so much love coming to you .... I am very appeciative of your kind words. Kathy


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I am crying yet reassured that this beautiful woman, in the company of "hushed voices", her mother and her beloved pet, has died and is at peace. I reveled during the perfect scene of Grace's introduction to romantic love and the similar feel in her love for the excitement of storms. Absolutely the most realistic, yet magical story I have ever read, Kathy. I look forward to more.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Amy, my dear dear friend; of course, you can relate to and understand the depths of this (and any/all) expressions of emotion and care, because this is who you are. Wonderfully compassionate, empathetic and real....you have no choice; you understand this life! (and, sometimes, being so sensitive is painful...) Thank you my dear friend. Kathy


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

And yet again, the beauty of life squeezes out and the after comes within sight...


We save cats 4 years ago

Kathy, how could you?! Make me fall in love with Grace, then have her pass away at the end, right before my eyes! Having her embrace her deeply loved kitten from her childhood was the best way to relate a passing I have ever read or seen. This was a beautiful piece, maybe one of your best. I'm really loving this series. God is really blessing you, Kiddo, and us by extention. Keep up the great work.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

I think we must accept death as the only reasonable "next step" of this life. It is ''built into" the system. We shouldn't e surprised! We have sufficient evidence to understand this plane IF we but heed it, and very little of the next. There is wisdom in that difference.

If we do this plane 'up to speed', we are fitting ourselves for the next.

When we lose someone, grief is only ours, not theirs - ours we feel for losing someone we wanted always with us. But that is not the setup. Nor will we be always with those who love us here and now. While we are with them, we need to BE with them. THAT we CAN do!

Our departed need to progress into their next level and we need to tend to what we have left to do right here. It may sometimes involve relating to them, but mostly it involves relating to the others we care about on this plane. We neglect them when we focus too much on those who have proceeded us. BE in the moment you have. That is where your focus needs to be.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hello aviannovice..yes, this is just how I see it and just as I believe it to be...and what Grace experienced as she passed. Thank you.

Dear Al...well, I can't say anything that can, in any way, touch those kind and caring, supportive words. this is why we are BFF (Best friends forever) and soul mates, and 'family,' and always in one another's life until that last breath is taken.

Hi Nellieanna. For this story to continue; Grace had to die. It was in the "plan" from the moment I thought of this. Her passing will lead to a greater respect and understanding of our human condition...and the need to honor one another; no matter what age we are. My own belief is that, I believe our essence; our "soul," is energy and energy is never harnessed or, not for long; it may be rerouted, it may be transformed but, in the end, it is not "finished." I believe it goes on forever; as do our "ideas." These are not physical; not tangible..they are energy. Like radio waves. Like digital wireless transmissions. My HOPE is that the essence identified as "me" or "us," has awareness and memory because, I admit; I am attached to those I love here, on earth. I can hope.

Grace passed with joy in her heart and with a reunion of loved ones waiting for her. She did not fight it; she DID "go gently in to that dark night." She had "no regrets, no misgivings and no apologies,' as she knew she was near the end. She did not fear it; though confused at times, and in/out of consciousness; she was at peace with dieing and at peace w/her reunion.

I think this is ok for her....her legacy will carry on and help to alter some very important, yet in need of change, attitudes.

Thank you for a very thought provoking and helpful comment, Nellieanna. Kathy


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Excellent, Kathy. Your series is inspiring!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Nellieanna, I love the heart of your longer comment so much; and I believe it to be very important on so many levels...and excellent advice. And, I thank you for both (and all) honest and thoughtful comments. Truly appreciated. Kathy


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 4 years ago from New York

Beautiful hubs to tug at my heart strings. Very lovely and a wonderful read.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Kathy,

I want to say this properly and may not... It is as if you thoroughly understand the beauty and peace that a woman can feel at the end of a life well lived as she embraces death, the reuniting with those she loves, including dear Sassy. I still have the chills from this installment. You have poured heart and soul into every sensory detail.

I am eager for the next chapter and know it will flow as you are ready.

Voted UP and UABI. Brava! Hugs, Maria


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

Kathy, I loved every word written. I felt joy, and acute sadness, esp. when she was holding and feeling Sassy. I am so moved with this episode. She had it all. I must admit that i'm wiping tears. Your ability to take us into her childhood, then young adulthood and now, is so beautiful. Looking forward to your next chapter. Did I tell you that I love this? Ha..* Hugs *


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Like A.A. Zaval said, I feel your words are mixed with your own experiences. Sassy is not just there because you wanted to add a kitten to the story. Your voice is compassionate and your empathy for you friends in here should make your mom so proud of you. Love whole bunches this Grace Hawthorn... because she really existsin real life. I know it in my heart. If someone should play 'athy'in the future should be Kate Beckinsale, because you have a beautiful heart. Keep it up! Your writing have taken us to a different world. Have a blessed friday!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Dear Bobbi, Mar, Ruby and Billy....I am SO pleased! So happy

!

Bobbi, I have ALWAYS held you in such high regard for your forthright, honest and no holds barred hubs....so, to have this comment from you is truly an honor. thank you!

Ruby, I know that you wander in the "outlands" of fantasy, wistfulness, yearning and fantasy (in the greatest sense)...so, I am so happy that this resonates with you...means the world to me.

Lord de Cross...I am so glad to be getting to know you and your writing...thank you so much to MAR for this...and I am very very humbled by your wonderful comment...thank you.

MAR!!!! You're killin' me with the comments..I am so glad you like this....yes, it is as if the story is being told through me...as a conduit...and it must be told...I'm working on # 4 now...have to find a way to merge some dates and timelines...thank you so much for the wonderful support and positive 'ness.'

Kathy


kj force profile image

kj force 3 years ago from Florida

Lucky Cats...I love the way you go in and out/ back and forth of her life..the now and the past..her thoughts vs reality...that is awesosme..really holds the readers attention... I could see this as part of a short stories book...I will move on the part 4...


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 3 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Thank you so much kj force. More to come, soon...I hope.

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