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July On the Farm, Part Two: The Dale Saga Comes to an End

Updated on February 5, 2016

All Good Things Must End

I’m just warning you, this series of chapters is coming to an end. I have been pleasantly surprised and gratified by the response to these stories and the characters who told them. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been meaning to write a sequel to my first novel, and this series of short stories has been the testing ground, the practice field, as I prepare to begin that sequel.

So, although this series is coming to an end in its present form, it will be reborn once the sequel is published in, oh say, six months.

Now let’s catch you up! When we last sat with these characters, Sarah was told by Astarte that her grandma, known as Maw Maw, is dying. Astarte also announced that Maw Maw was coming to the Dale farm in Charles City, Iowa, for one last visit before she dies, and we were also told that Astarte’s mother, Sheila, was coming to the farm as well….in fact, it was mandatory that she do so.

So here we go!

Charles City, Iowa
Charles City, Iowa | Source

Two Days Later

The roosters woke us, as was their norm, in the early morning hours of a July day that promised to be a scorcher. Their call registered in my brain, and several seconds later I stretched and allowed my eyes to open. Through the window the first hint of color appeared in the east. A slight breeze pushed at the lace curtains, falsely promising relief from the heat to come. I rolled onto my left side and put my arm around Sarah, pulling her next to me, giving her, by osmosis, the strength and compassion she would need as the day unfolded.

This day would be trying.

Sarah is a strong Cajun woman. For twenty years she lived in an eighty-year old shotgun house made of pine planks on the banks of Bayou Teche in New Iberia, Louisiana with her Maw Maw, and now Maw Maw was coming to join us so she could die with her granddaughter by her side.. We had received the call from Maw Maw twenty hours earlier during a stopover in northern Louisiana, confirming what Astarte had told us the day before.

Strong Cajun women don’t show emotions. Stoicism flows through their veins, but I knew deep down, Sarah was hurting something awful. The fact that Astarte had predicted this visit and impending death had been pushed to the background for the time being. There would be time, later, to discuss matters we could not comprehend. For the time being, according to Sarah, her main job was to be strong.

Maw Maw was due in Charles City at eleven that morning. Sheila, Astarte’s mother, was due later that afternoon. Their visits were related, according to Astarte, and all would be revealed, we were told.

Life is surely a mystery!

Waiting for Maw Maw
Waiting for Maw Maw | Source

All about love, baby!

Eleven Arrived with a Silence like Death

That was my thought as the train finally came to a stop, spreading silence upon the platform and surrounding area. Five passengers were disgorged before a porter helped Maw Maw down the steps and into Sarah’s waiting arms. Tears rained from my Cajun girl, falling upon the shoulders of the much-smaller Maw Maw. I was shocked by the old woman’s appearance. When last we had seen her she was damned near vibrant and robust. Now her frailty defined her. She was stooped, pale and barely able to stand on her own. Still, she smiled when she saw me and, with Sarah’s help, shuffled to me and gave me a weak hug.

She held me at arms’ length and looked deeply within me. “William Dale, you appear to be in love, and I can see in my granddaughter’s eyes that she is a happy woman. You’ve done well, William Dale, and this old woman thanks you for sharing your love with my baby girl. Now Sarah, William Dale, you really need to take me to your home so I can see that daughter of yours. I want to kiss Heather before I die. Hush now, we’ll have no more words about it. An old woman knows when her time is up. I’ve lived a good life and this is the perfect way for it to end, surrounded by love.”

Death Awaits

Ma and my sister Jeannie had never met Maw Maw. For that matter, neither had our daughter, or Astarte or her daughter Hope, so there were many introductions to be made when we arrived at the farm, but the introductions and sharing of love wore the old woman out, and by two she was prone in bed and her breathing was shallow and weak. I was stunned by how fast she had deteriorated, and now that she was with her only family, the deterioration seemed to accelerate, as if death had a schedule that simply would not wait any longer. As the final moments approached it was just Sarah, Maw Maw and I in the small bedroom.

“Sarah,” the old woman whispered. “We’ll have no more tears, hear me now? It’s been a good life. I’ve loved and been loved, and now it’s time. Promise me, now, you’ll pass on the love. Pass it on to Heather, and teach her to love. It’s the greatest gift you can give her, you hear me? William Dale, you be the man my girl deserves to have. Don’t you be letting manly pride or some such nonsense get in the way of loving my girl. I love you both.”

And she was gone!

A Knock on the Door

I held Sarah as she cried. In truth, I held her as we both cried. I’m not sure how long we stayed in that room, alone with our thoughts in the company of Maw Maw, but eventually our final reunion was interrupted by a knock on the door. I released Sarah and opened the door. There, smiling her radiant, peaceful and loving smile, was Sheila, our dear friend from Olympia, Washington.

“Wipe the tears away, dear friends,” she told us. “Leave me now with Maw Maw. No questions, please. Just allow me to sit for a spell with this lovely woman.”

We did as she requested. There is something about Sheila that inspires trust. If she wanted us to leave then we trusted she had a good reason for it. I took Sarah’s hand and we walked out of the bedroom, down the stairs and into the kitchen where the rest of the family waited. Astarte assured us that all was well. Her daughter, Hope, who reminded me so much of her grandmother, Sheila, warmed our hearts with her own smile and words of wisdom.

“Where true love exists,” she told us, “sadness does not belong. Today will be a day of wonder for us all, so let’s sit and wait patiently for the arrival of that wonder.”

Sheila does it again
Sheila does it again | Source

And It Arrives

An hour passed….then two. Finally, as clouds parted outside and the late-afternoon was bathed in sunshine, our silent reveries were interrupted by footsteps on the stairs, followed by a familiar voice.

“What’s an old woman got to do to get a meal on this Iowa farm?” And with that question, Sheila and Maw Maw entered the kitchen.

Stunned would be an inadequate description. Two hours earlier Maw Maw had died. I had seen it with my own eyes. I had searched her wrist for a pulse and found none. I had watched the light of life leave her eyes. And yet there she stood, erect, glowing, the picture of vibrancy. How was it possible?

Sheila, anticipating our questions, spoke first.

“Remember always, my friends, that love alters reality.”

Indeed It Does

It certainly has for this writer, and I’m confident it will for all of you who experience it.

Thank you for following along as I took you on this journey. If you want to read the inspiration for this short story collection, I invite you to read my very first novel, The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today.” It will soon be available through Amazon as a paperback and eBook. And next year, about this time, you can read the sequel to that book, which I am now working on. In it you’ll once again be able to read about Sarah (with an h), William Dale and all the other characters in this short story series.

Remember, please, to do all things with love.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 17 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, I got tears in my eyes, as well and this ending was quite beautiful and bittersweet today. Have a wonderful weekend now, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Wipe your eyes, Janine, and thank you so much. I'm very appreciative of you following this story from start to finish. Have a superb weekend with that beautiful family of yours.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 17 months ago from SW England

      Now I didn't see that coming! What a great ending to this series! I can't wait to find out more about this amazing set of people. You craft a story so well; I know I've said this before but your characters are so real, so easy to empathise with.

      You've cheered me considerably on a cold, wet February Friday, bill, so thank you for that.

      Have a fantastic Friday and a wicked weekend!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, thank you! Cold and wet here as well, and your comment cheered me....so we are even.

      Enjoy the weekend my friend. I know I shall.

      bill

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 17 months ago from london

      What a sweet message at the end, and from a man who really tries, like me.

      I thought this final touch to your tale of William Dale and Sarah (with an h) was quite touching. A bit of a mystery there at the end with Sheila and Maw Maw, but that's cool too. Sweet and charming story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's all about the sweet mystery of love, Manatita. Thank you for following along, my friend, and blessings to you this weekend.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 17 months ago

      With tears in my eyes and joy I look forward to your book!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Pop! That's music to my ears.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 17 months ago

      I will be waiting, not patiently, but waiting for the book.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 17 months ago

      Fantastic story, Bill, and I'm surprised at your metaphysical twist. I like this type of story much better than the rough, get-down, dirty, gritty ones. I think you are capable of so much beauty and I will eagerly await your ebook.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill I have tears in my eyes and goosebumps up and down my spine. This has been such a beautiful story--I can't wait to see it in print. Thank you for sharing these beautiful people with us. It has been amazing journey.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mike! Your new Billy the Kid will be out next week....I appreciate you, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you MizB...it's always nice to hear what people like....thank you for your kind words. Actually, my next two books will be gentle in nature.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I really do appreciate that, Linda. I love it when characters come alive and elicit emotions from readers. You made my day.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 17 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Happy for you that sharing these stories, with the responses, has met your needs for the sequel novel. Best wishes. We enjoy each word you are able to share with us. We know there is more to come! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill. I knew you would understand. Have a great weekend in Hollister!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 17 months ago from Southern Illinois

      What a wonderful story teller you are. I loved the osmosis remark. You write with such flair. I know the book will do well. Thank you for sharing a part of it with us...

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 17 months ago from Northern California, USA

      Leave it to you to have such an unexpected twist. "Love alters reality" is definitely yours. This story has me wanting to re-read the inspiration for this series. I'm glad I don't have to wait. I already have my copy of "The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today."

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Ruby! I'm always so grateful when someone is willing to follow along with chapters of a short story series. I know you are all busy and still you find time to support me...I won't forget your kindness.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, you can't fool me. I know you're just a big softie when it comes to Tweetie! LOL Thank you...and I'll make sure Tweetie is in the sequel.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 17 months ago from Northern California, USA

      ...and lavender. I would be so tickled if you mention lavender in the sequel. Just putting in my request. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It shall be so, Marlene. That's my little gift to you.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 17 months ago

      Sweet surprise at the end. Where love is involved, the life triumphs over death. It happened before, and you my friend might remember spoken phrase "Talitha koum''- then from the room walked out two people well and alive, shortly after one living - loving entered the room where the body has been asleep. Great and successful story.

      Good night and have a blessed weekend.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What a surprising ending! I didn't see that coming. Good luck with the ebook, Bill.

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 17 months ago

      yes life is like that - love

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 17 months ago from United Kingdom

      Oh thank God. It was much too soon to lose Maw Maw. I had completely forgotten about Sheila's wondrous ways. Shame on me. Clearly, whatever Maw Maw was meant to do in this world, she hasn't done it yet. She needed to come back and accomplish it.

    • RandaHandler profile image

      Randa Awn Handler 17 months ago from USA

      Good luck with the release of your novel! Nice read! And, I agree 'Love alters reality!'

      Maybe another series should pop up around here!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, I do remember that phrase. Thank you for mentioning it. Yes, love triumphs over death....that is the central message of this story and the book it is related to.

      blessings always

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. The ebook and paperback will be out by March.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Love indeed, Sujaya!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Zulma, it was meant to be. No way Sheila was showing up just for a cup of tea. lol I'm now working on the story line for the sequel....and I find myself looking forward to the process again.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Randa! I'm sure another series will appear shortly, as soon as my muse speaks to me. I think she's taking the weekend off. lol

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 17 months ago from The Caribbean

      The women put a beautiful spin on death, which makes it easy to accept. You seem to cover all the bases--even emotional when you write. Very good read!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Dora! I enjoyed writing this mini-series very much. Now, on to the novel!!!!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 17 months ago from USA

      I enjoyed the ending -- not expected at all. Good writing!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Flourish! I'm very happy you enjoyed it.

    • profile image

      Ruchira Khanna 17 months ago

      Jeez! loved the message in the end, Bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruchira! It's a message I always believe in.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 17 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Beautiful "ending" to a beautiful story. Time marches on, as it must.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Deb! I appreciate your kind words.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 17 months ago from Queensland Australia

      An excellent ending and new beginning Bill. Perfect introduction to your new novel, and your first one. Well done.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you John! I sure do appreciate it.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 17 months ago from Central Florida

      I am very much looking forward to the sequel, Bill. The 12/59 captured my heart in many ways. Now that you've brought the paranormal/supernatural aspect into the story, I'm even more intrigued.

      I was sad to see Maw Maw die before Sheila got there, but that was the only way it could be. You've left us wanting more and that's what a good writer does. I'll be first in line when the sequel goes live. I'm curious to know the title. Do you have one in mind yet?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I don't have a title yet. I'm still not sure about the story line. I'm waiting patiently until my muse whispers in my ear. That's how it usually works with me so I need to trust the process.

      Thank you for loving my work so much.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 17 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      This was awesome! I loved the story right from the 'get go' but the ending was special.

      I once heard it said that people who pass away live on in the stories we tell about them, and as long as the stories live on with us they do too!

      This is great storytelling.

      Can I ask you that when you get the book on Amazon put a link up in the hubs so we can get to them.

      Cheers

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, thank you very much. You can bet for sure I'll put a link up when this book is finished. Stay tuned....in about six months.

      bill

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 16 months ago from Oklahoma

      Another great read.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And again I thank you, Larry! I really appreciate you taking the time to catch up. I hope your Mom is better.

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