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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 4, Her Aunt Karen Was Very Important To Heather

Updated on April 3, 2018
Homeplace Series profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Heather Gates is a character of The Homeplace Saga series of family saga, historical fiction stories

This red barn image appears on the back of each novel of The Homeplace Saga
This red barn image appears on the back of each novel of The Homeplace Saga

Introduction 4 of 5

Karen Bevins was the oldest of the four siblings, followed by Beverly, Bart and Peter, the youngest. As we first met them in February of 1986, she had made a career as a nurse. Most recently she was a supervising nurse in a Tucson, Arizona hospital. Her husband, Jason Winslow, was a partner in a Financial Planning firm there. They were the parents of four children, the youngest of whom was about to be a senior in high school at the time. Although making the 2 year commitment to come “Back to the Homeplace” was not without complications, like her siblings, Karen never really hesitated to make the move. Jason was totally in agreement. They already had the motor home so it would just be a more extended trip than they typically made.


The original McDonald land purchase in 1833 had been a 640 acre square mile that included Oak Creek running east from the Mill pond, just inside the north edge of the square mile, and turning south along the east edge before turning east and south again beyond the border line of the square mile. In 1987, the land and farm house of Frank and Mildred (McDonald) Bevins, where they had raised their four children, was known in the family as the “Homeplace.” Mildred had lived there, alone, following the death of her husband, in the late spring of 1978. It was located on State Highway 24 that ran east and west along the southern border of that original square mile, just east of center of that mile. At the half mile, running along the west side of the farmhouse was a road that ran the half mile into the center of the square mile and dead ended. In 1996, this was the location of the home of Bart and Diane, their farm buildings, including the Bevins Stables and Trail Rides, and now the Bevins Veterinary Clinic.


For the will provisions, Karen had chosen the 80 acres including the “Homeplace” farmhouse. She had chosen first as the eldest. Paul had chosen the Mill land, to the northwest of the original square mile. Bart had chosen the 80 acres on which his farmstead sat. Peter had chosen 80 acres off to the northwest that had come into the family by purchase over the years. Karen and Jason parked their mobile home near the “Homeplace” farmhouse, originally, but had moved into the farmhouse within a few months. They had soon made plans to turn it into a “Bed and Breakfast” or “Country Inn.” These physical plans were well underway when Jason was killed in the auto accident. Karen went ahead with their plans and had even implemented Phase Two by the time the summer of 1996 arrived. The Homeplace Country Inn was a thriving business in the Oak Creek valley, a few miles east of the town of Oak Springs.

Oak Springs was set a valley in Missouri Ozarks

Farmland in valley
Farmland in valley

Heather and Karen had built a long-standing close relationship

From their earliest days of knowing each other back in 1987 when Heather was yet but a child, Karen had been the one person Heather would go to when she had an “ouchy” - physical or emotional. As a nurse, it was natural that Karen was always there for those bumps and bruises, scratches and falls. Paul and his children had lived in the “Homeplace” farmhouse with Karen and Jason for the first couple of years in Oak Springs before the Carsten Cottage was ready to live in. Heather loved her ‘sister’ Sheila, but in the early years, they were not close - there was a thirteen year age difference. Then, Sheila was gone for several years. Karen had become the primary female role model in Heather’s life, with her real mother living hundreds of miles away with only occasional visits each year. Aunt Diane and cousin Jennifer were there, but not real close, personally. They were family, but just a bit more distant. Heather always found a way to talk with Karen when she had personal concerns that needed ‘motherly-type’ attention. And, Karen was always there for her as she grew through adolescence. Paul was always there, too, of course, and was a loving father doing the best he could. Still, Karen had already raised two daughters and knew what Heather needed. Heather sensed that from the start and relied on that support as the years passed by.


Jason had died just a couple of weeks before Heather’s 12th birthday, back in 1993. She realized that Karen had made such a fuss over Heather’s birthday party as much to take her mind off of her own sorrow as it was to celebrate with Heather. It had been special, and Heather still carried strong positive memories from the experience, in spite of her own sorrow. Jason had been a very nice man and Heather liked him a lot. Paul had told her many of the things Jason had done to help The Bevins Trust, and the current family relationships, become what they were today. He said it would not have happened without Jason’s cool head and gentle approach to all problem situations.

The Homeplace is in a beautiful valley

A valley such as that in the Missouri Ozarks
A valley such as that in the Missouri Ozarks

Heather learned more about her cousin Matt Winslow moving to Oak Springs

On a visit with Karen at the Homeplace County Inn, just a half mile south of the stables, Heather was reminded that her cousin, Karen’s oldest son, Matt, and his wife Susie, and their two small children had decided to move to Oak Springs in the very near future. Matt was a manager in the technology industry in the Boston area. Over recent months, Matt, The Bevins Trust, and the local city and business community had arrived at the mutual decision that he would be the one to start a new company, affiliated with The Bevins Trust, to become the first Internet Service Provider in Oak Springs and known as Winslow and Bevins, ISP. Karen hoped they would be able to arrive by Labor Day although there seemed to continue to be setbacks in their target arrival time. Karen was anxious to see her grandchildren.


As usual, when talking about any of Karen’s family, Karen updated Heather on the other three, as well. Lori was still a flight attendant out of Los Angeles, flying all over the world. Erin and her husband Mark James both had great jobs in Austin, Texas. Karen was hoping to hear that “they were pregnant,” but of course that would only come in due time. Kevin had earned his Ph.D. in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona and was now working as a research scientist at the Research Center there in Tucson in Arizona. Karen was anxious for Kevin to find a girl friend, she said, but knew it was unlucky to keep asking him about it. Heather and Karen enjoyed talking about family. They talked a little bit about the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend. There would be a big family gathering here at the Heritage Room of the Homeplace Country Inn again, of course. Karen so hoped that Matt and his family would be in town in time to take part.

(continued in HG 5)

Author’s Note

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. These episodes parallel the timeline of “The Homeplace Revisited” novel in this series.

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Yes, Dora, nothing quite like a family reunion, for sure! ;-)

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 months ago from The Caribbean

      It's fun just to anticipate a family reunion. Expecting it to be still more fun when it actually happens.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Bill. It is a busy time, as spring actually arrives.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Playing catch-up this morning; short on time; no way I was missing an installment, though!

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