The Promise Tree
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by Linda Rettstatt
Description: Trudi Sheppard returns to her home in the hills of West Virginia to care for her mother, never expecting to have an old romance reignited.
eBook Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc., 2012 April, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: April 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [327 KB]
Reading time: 205-287 min.
Trudi slid a glance to her mother. "You know you're forgetting?"
Her mother nodded slowly. "I know. Doc Hudson says I have dementia." After a long pause, her mother said, "I can't stay by myself now, can I?"
Trudi pulled the car to the curb and shifted into park. She turned to face her mother. "Mom?" She studied the lined face and the cloudy blue eyes.
"Sometimes I know." Mary gazed out at the boarded up windows. "It's frightening to watch things die. I'll go into a home before I'll put you through this."
A sob ripped from Trudi, and she covered her mouth with her fingers. "Oh, Mom. I can't. I'll get a job here somewhere and move in with you."
Her mother reached over and squeezed her hand. "You can't fix this, honey. I'm better at this time of day, but then everything gets... hazy. We should make the most of this time. Let's go to the cemetery and visit your father's grave. I'd like to get some flowers to take there, too."
But Trudi sat, motionless. She was stunned by the clarity and afraid to move for fear the movement would shift everything. She wanted to remain rooted in this moment.
Her mother faced her again. "Trudi, tell me about Savannah and Kira."
"Let's pick up ice cream and go home. I found the photos I'd sent you. We'll look at them together. I promise we'll take flowers to the cemetery tomorrow." She swiped at tears that blurred her vision. She fought the urge to speed back to the house and try to beat the darkness that would soon enough cloud her mother's eyes and mind.
She stopped only briefly at the Dairy Queen drive-thru for sundaes. Sitting at the kitchen table, the two women laughed over pictures of Savannah and Kira when they were little. Oooh'd and aaah'd at photos from Vannie's wedding. Finally, her mother looked up. "I wish they were here. Now. I wish I could see them again while I still remember."
"I know both girls would love to hear from you. Let's call them." She dialed Savannah's number and handed the phone over to her mother. Once she was certain the conversation was on track, she slipped into the living room to give her mother privacy. The mixture of joy at the gift of this time and sadness of the knowledge that it would all too soon end brought fresh tears. Her mother's lilting laughter made her smile, though. When she heard the conversation end, she returned to the kitchen. "Want me to get Kira on the phone now?"
Her mother sat with her hands in her lap. "I forgot who I was talking with. I... I need to rest."
But her mother had begun to fade, to slide into that fog that consumed her. Trudi watched as Mary headed for the stairs, paused and turned down the hall to the den where she now slept. The door closed quietly behind her.
Trudi sat at the table, her fingers brushing through the photographs, until she could no longer hold in the pain of loss. Her shoulders shook as she cried out her grief.
A knock sounded on the back screen door and a voice called, "Trudi, is something wrong?"
She looked up to see Wynn on the other side of the screen. Pushing to her feet, she crossed the kitchen, unlatched the screen door, and fell against him. "Wynn, I'm losing her. I'm losing my mother."
Wynn steadied himself and wrapped his arms around Trudi. She was so small and fragile. "Hey, it's okay. Tell me what happened."
She clung to him. "I can't take this. I don't know what to do."
"Come here." He guided her to the porch swing and sat beside her, careful to keep an arm around her. "Talk to me."
She leaned her head on his chest and sniffled. "She was clear for a while. We had a nice hour or two. But it's come down to that--a good hour. And the rest..."
He didn't say anything, just continued to rub his hand in soothing circles on her back. He honestly didn't know what to say, and he wasn't certain she needed him to speak.
Trudi continued. "She knows what's happening to her. And she told me to put her into a home."
"She said that?"
Trudi nodded. "I can't do it."
"What will you do?"
She sat upright, shifting away from him and fumbled in her pocket, removing a tissue to blow her nose. "God, I don't know. I suppose I'll have to look for a job around here, maybe in Elkins." She let out a weary breath. "I'm sorry."
"I have impeccable timing, it seems. I show up exactly when you need me. Where's your mother now?"