Heather Gates, Ep. HG 18, Heather Learned About Jeremy
Peter had lived in a commune in a pine forest in Oregon
Heather Discovered She Had Another First Cousin No One Knew About
It was on the afternoon of Monday, November 11th, Veteran’s Day, 1996, that Peter and Sheila had called, wanting to come over to visit with Paul, and Heather and Scott since they were all there. They said they had just received some interesting news and wanted to share it with them in person. Paul said they sounded positive, not downbeat, on the phone, so hopefully the news would be good, not something bad. It was actually only about twenty minutes before Peter and Sheila arrived at the cottage, but it seems like an eternity to Heather.
After very brief greetings, Peter just came right out with the news, “I’m a father. I have a son, in Oregon, who will be ten years old on his next birthday. We just confirmed that it is true, this morning.” Peter and Sheila then went on to explain a bit of the background. Over two weeks earlier, a lawyer from Oregon had come to Peter’s place with the possible news, wanting to get a DNA sample to confirm the paternity positively. They had been awaiting those results, and didn’t want to say anything, or talk about it, until the results were available. Peter had not even opened the packet of papers the lawyer left with him until he got the phone call earlier in the day that he indeed was the father of the young boy. His name was Jeremy, and there were three photos, among other information in the packet. “And,” Peter added, “He is healthy and happy. He has tested negative for the HIV virus. It is practically a miracle.”
Prior to returning “Back to the Homeplace” in February of 1987 because of his mother’s will, Peter had been teaching in Oregon, but living a communal life in the pine forests outside of town. As a bisexual, he had been love partners with both male and female members of the commune of a dozen or so members regularly. Of course, he thought he had left all that behind years ago. He was well aware that most of those friends had been deceased for several years, while he had somehow survived, with his own HIV in remission. It turned out, however, that one of them, her name was Ivy Grapes, had survived until recently, raising a son that she believed was his. She had worked hard with her parents, and Jeremy, to prepare them for the day, after she was gone, when he should go live with his father. She had taught him that Peter was a fine man, and would want to be a good father. Jeremy was well adjusted with good grades in school. Her parents wanted to continue to be his grandparents, but agreed that he should be with his father, if Peter would have him. All this was contained in letters in the packet Peter had received. Peter and Shiela were preparing to go to Oregon on the upcoming weekend to bring Jeremy ‘home’ if all worked out as expected. After they talked about it some more, Peter and Sheila said they were off to talk to Karen and Bart about the news.
They sought a project to collect family historical and genealogy materials
Jennifer and Heather Talked about the Society Plans Underway
At the stables on Tuesday morning, Heather and Jennifer got into a discussion about the new activity Jennifer and Brian had gotten themselves involved in over recent weeks. Jennifer mentioned how they had gone to the local library to do some volunteer paper filing with Judy Watson, the Librarian. Before long, that conversation had turned into a discussion about possibly forming an Oak Springs Historical and Genealogical Society. It had been talked about, over the years, but no one had taken the time and effort to actually organize one. Now, with additional input from a retired teacher, Rhoda Offutt, and some others, there seemed to be momentum for actually doing it. Heather said it sounded like a good idea. She added she would likely be interested in helping out, when the right time came.
Jennifer added that she had also met with the Associate Editor of the Oak Springs Enterprise, Penny Nixon, about getting the publicity out about an organizational meeting. “That’s Rachel’s sister,” Heather said.
“Yes, it sure it,” Jennifer replied. “She has been very helpful.” She went on to talk about how this small group had made a list of people they knew in the community, who over the years, had expressed interest in local history and/or genealogy. They had recently been calling these folks to gauge their interest in forming a Society. Jennifer said they had been pleasantly surprised at how positive the response had been. “Of course,” she added, “just expressing ‘interest’ doesn’t get the job done.” Jennifer went on to talk about the list of possible activities they were developing to present at an information meeting, tentatively planned for the Saturday evening following Thanksgiving.
Jennifer said that the planning group wanted to be able to answer the question: What are you going to do? So, they started the list with three items: 1) continue to document historical materials already received, 2) a project to solicit more materials held by individuals and families, and 3) walking the local cemeteries and creating documentation for use by the public. Some members had other suggestions, but these had consensus, so they were starting with these. They would than solicit input from each person they talked to that could be considered for a longer list. Heather said that sounded really interesting. She said she would never have thought of that, but agreed it was a good idea.
Karen said Kevin was bringing a friend when he came home for Christmas
Jeremy Arrived in Oak Springs
Once Jeremy was settled in his fourth grade classroom on Tuesday afternoon, November 19, Sheila went over to the Mill to share their experience with Paul. She said that the grandparents, the lawyer, the social worker and even the judge had been extremely helpful in making the weekend a complete success. They could hardly believe how well prepared Jeremy was to come ‘home’ with them. They really thought it ‘too good to be true’ but his positive behavior had continued through some trying experiences. When the judge had asked him if he was ready to go with them, he had simple stated, resolutely, “Yes.” Similarly, arriving back in Oak Springs, along with Christopher, they had gone to Municipal Court. Peter and Sheila had been officially married. Then, Jeremy was officially entered in court as ‘Jeremy Bevins’ and he continued to take things in stride. At the school, it had taken some time, some phone calls to Oregon in addition to the papers they had brought, but he got settled into his class. They had promised to be there to pick him up after school.
At the stable, after school, Heather and Diane had been talking about Heather’s FFA Project. Her instructor had a couple of questions he needed clarified, and Diane had the answers. Diane then mentioned she had heard that Carter Ogden had been in the hospital for a few days, again, and had now been transferred to the hospice care unit at Serenity Nursing Home. Although still mentally alert, he was now too physically weak, and in pain needing medications, to be at home.
As they talked, Diane added one other little tidbit of family news. Karen had talked to her youngest son, Kevin, a couple of times, now, she said, and it seemed that not only was he planning to be back for Christmas, but he would not be alone. He was now in a relationship with a coworker. Her name was Carmen Martinez. She added, per Karen, that Carmen’s family, in Tucson, went back several generations, to before that area was even Arizona. It had been part of Mexico. Heather said that would really be something interesting to hear about when Carmen visited at Christmas time.
[Continued in Episode HG 19]
This series of stories in the life of Heather Gates, a fictional character in The Homeplace Saga series of family saga, historical fiction stories (home blog found at thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com), is being created as a way to use a minor character in the early writings to expand those stories and share details omitted in those earlier writings within the original overarching themes. These newly included details may have been left out of the earlier stories through editing or they may have seemed unrelated to central themes at the time. With the expansion of the entire Saga, over the years, it has become obvious that filling in some of the gaps in the story for overall better understanding of the individuals, their families, and their interactions would be useful to The Homeplace Saga body of work in total. This episode runs in parallel with the timeline of the “Christmas at the Homeplace” novel. The theme of this novel is ‘coming home for Christmas.’