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After "Back to the Homeplace" - Thanksgiving 1987 in Oak Springs, Missouri
Thanksgiving in the Ozarks
Christopher Ogden anticipated the events of this set of Thanksgiving gatherings
Christopher Ogden somewhat reluctantly accepted the Thanksgiving Day Dinner invitation from his biological father's family. Jennifer Bevins, his former girl-friend, and now half-sister, would be there, of course, but not her brother, who was Christopher's best-friend all through high school. As he drove back to his hometown of Oak Springs, in the southern Missouri Ozarks, from his pre-law freshman-year studies at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Christopher recalled the traumatic events of the prior summer, shortly after his high-school graduation. By concentrating on his studies all fall, he had largely blocked out those memories, but now they were flooding back. The shooting incident that took Donnie. The car crash aftermath when he found his father wasn't actually his father… and who his real biological father was. Now he had two Dads. One a lawyer, one a farmer.
Christopher knew Bart Bevins well, for many years, as the father of his best-friend, Donnie, through high school, and as father of this high-school girl-friend, Jennifer. Now he needed to get to know him better as his father. What a change. And, now to re-establish a relationship with Jennifer. Thank goodness their high school relationship was purely platonic. Now, she was his sister. Could they still be friends? Only time would tell. She was now nearly through her junior year of high school. She was surely a different person now than the girl he knew a year ago. How would that work out?
And, what about Diane, Bart's wife? She had lost her only son, and then found out her husband had fathered another son while she was pregnant with the first. They still seem to be together, but they must have gone through some tough times these past six months. Christopher told himself he wanted to help with that relationship, if possible, and not make it harder. But could he? He would arrive at the Bevin's farm home shortly. He knew the way, out east of town, very well. He had even gotten there drunk, one night… that one and only time he ever let that happen. If only Donnie had been able to say that.
Thanksgiving Dinner at the Bart Bevins family Farmhouse at noon
At the Bevins home, Christopher realized that Bart and Linda had invited Bart's older sister, Karen and her husband, Jason Winslow, to join them for dinner. Jason and Karen had moved back to the homeplace from Arizona earlier in the year in response to the unusual will left by Mrs. Bevins, Karen and Bart's mother, when she passed away the previous fall. They were living in their motor home parked next to the Bevins family "Homeplace" - a half mile from Bart's farm home.
Since their arrival in the valley the prior February, Jason and Karen had demonstrated great empathy in each of their personal encounters. Jason had been instrumental, along with lawyer Carter Ogden, in making the provisions of the unusual will and continuing activities workable, and even successful, for the family. Karen, a nurse by training and years of practice, had a way of making everyone feel better about themselves under all kinds of circumstances. These characteristics were on demonstration as the meal proceeded. Karen was able to get Christopher to talk about his college experiences while bringing the others into the conversation. Jason rarely spoke, but when he did, it seemed to be the right thing at the right time.
Bart and Diane were slow to get into the dinner conversation, and seemed relieved that Karen took the lead in the discussions. Christopher was mildly, and pleasantly, surprised, that Jennifer still seemed to still be the active, perky person he remembered - and hoped that she would continue to be. When asked by Karen, she seemed anxious to share about her high school activities. She did not dwell on the past, and seemed anxious to move forward with the new relationships. Of course, she had been here with all of the others all fall, while Christopher was off at college.
Back on the farm in the Missouri Ozarks
Thanksgiving Dinner at the Carter Ogden home, late afternoon
Christopher left the Bevins' place about 4 p.m. to go into Oak Springs to be with his family at the Ogden home for an early evening Thanksgiving dinner. This meal was a group of four people. This was what Christopher had considered to be "his family" until last summer… his Dad, Carter, his Mother, Linda, and his younger sister, Melanie. Melanie was now a senior in high school, just a little over a year younger than Christopher. She had been Donnie Bevins' long-time girl-friend until the shooting incident the previous summer. Melanie had suffered a severe abdominal injury in that incident that had ended Donnie's life, but Melanie had recovered. She had learned, however, that she would never be able to bear children because of her injuries. Returning for her senior year of high school had been difficult, but she had struggled through the first couple of months, and now seemed to be adjusting well, his mother had told him.
Carter and Linda had also struggled with their relationship, of course. Carter was several years older than Linda, and had gone off to work on a legal case in St. Louis as Linda had left for the real estate conference in Dallas where she had the "one-night stand" with Bart, her fellow realtor. She claimed she never suspected the truth, but the blood tests when Christopher needed blood left no doubt. Linda had admitted Bart should be checked, when Christopher's blood type didn't match Carter - his "father." After counseling, Carter and Linda had decided to try to continue with their lives, together, in support of their children. Christopher had gone off to college in late August, and had not returned until this holiday weekend.
The four members of the Ogden family had always had very open communications, and this bade them well as they all sat down to their holiday meal together. Each tried, in their own way, to make the occasion feel as "normal" as possible. By the end of the meal, each had brought the others "up-to-date" on their activities through the fall. Delicate issues had been discussed openly, and they were ready to work hard at being a closer family again. Christopher realized that Melanie was now a half-sister, just like Jennifer. What a strange turn of events - but it was so important to recognize the true situation, and move on. They were still "family!" Christopher was very happy to see Carter and Linda together, making a new life, and Melanie "coping" so well. He could return to the university after the holiday weekend secure in the knowledge that both his families were doing well and were supportive of his challenges and opportunities, as well.
Learn more about the Homeplace: "Beyond the Books"
- The Homeplace Saga - home
This wiki provides addition insights into "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction family saga stories, beginning with "Back to the Homeplace" and moving both forward and backward in time - to the Founding of the Homeplace in 1833.
Also from the Fall of 1987 near the Homeplace
Filling the gap between 1987 and 1996 in the series
This is the first of what I expect will be several additional stories that fill in gaps between the two novels in "The Homeplace Saga" series between "Back to the Homeplace" in mid-1987 and "The Homeplace Revisited" in 1996.
"Murder by the Homeplace" began this, in novella form. It was set between September and November 1987, immediately following "Back to the Homeplace."
I urge you to read "Back to the Homeplace" to get to know this family and their stories.
If you have not read it, it is new to you! ;-)