Sunday, July 14, 2019


Ruth did not remember how she got to the farm.  She did remember crying in her father’s arms.  When Pop had them join Mom, Ruth began to explain the reason for the blood on her clothes.  She told them about her anger and how she had lost her job.  They talked for hours.  She told them everything.  Mom’s solution for every problem seemed to be food.  She insisted Ruth should have something to eat. 

At first, Ruth told her mother that she was not hungry, but when Mom’s macaroni and cheese was placed in front of her, she began to eat.  After her meal, Mom had her move to the living room sofa and suggested that she try to relax by listening to some soothing music. Ruth was able to relax, but whether it was the music or the roller coaster of emotions, she fell into a sound sleep. 

When Mom looked in to check on Ruth, she was happy to see that Ruth was softly snoring.  Mom went to the linen closet, took out a small blanket and gently covered Ruth.

Ruth awoke the next morning to the smell of her mother’s applesauce muffins and her favorite brand of coffee.  Ruth rubbed the sleep from her eyes and ambled to the kitchen.  On the table were Mom’s homemade grape jelly, a tray of hot muffins, and a cup of coffee already poured and ready for her.  She immersed herself in the old, familiar breakfast routine and indulged in the comfort of old habits.  After breakfast she began to cry.

Ruth knew she owed several months of rent on her new apartment.  She had hoped to pay all that she owed this month, but her anger destroyed that option.  She realized that she probably would be receiving an eviction notice soon. 
Ruth wondered, should I ask my parents if I may move back home?  The thought seemed pleasant.

“I hope you have not eaten all of those muffins.” Pop teased as he reached for the coffee pot and poured himself a cup of coffee.  This coffee had also been his favorite brand.  Pop had been thinking and felt that Ruth needed comfort.  He also wanted his favorite daughter to come home to rest.  So, before Ruth could say a word, Pop told her that he wanted her to move back home.  Ruth again started to cry, but these were tears of joy. 

That afternoon Ruth moved everything from the apartment to the farm.  Her last stop was at the post office to pick up her mail and fill out a change-of-address card.  When the post office clerk said she had a registered letter, Ruth expected it would be a letter from her landlord. 

Instead, it was a notification to appear in court for an assault charge.  Ruth had heard that Toni had suffered a broken nose and a gash on her head.  Ruth worried as she signed for the letter.  She decided just to be grateful for being able to live in her parents’ home. She’d worry about the court situation tomorrow.

 Ruth was expected to help with the farm chores.  She had always enjoyed working on the farm and was delighted to be able once again to help her parents.  Mom’s garden produced a large variety of vegetables.  Mom would pack bushel baskets of tomatoes, peppers, or zucchini, and Pop would deliver these bushels to various grocery stores and even the Mom and Pop stores.  In the past, Ruth had always helped Pop with this process.  It felt like old times when Pop asked her to join him again.  The grocery stops were the same as she remembered.

One day when they arrived back home, Pop and Ruth headed for the kitchen.  As Ruth was getting a glass of water, Pop noticed that Mom seemed to be very quiet.  She was having a problem trying to hide the fact that she was upset.  Pop put his arm around her and gently asked, “What’s wrong?” 

Mom tried to ignore Pop’s concern and said, “My mood is not important.” 

Pop would not accept this answer and said, “Maybe so, but you are important to me!”  

He insisted that he wanted to know what was bothering her.

Mom explained, “I keep thinking that someone is watching me.  I thought I caught a glimpse of a stranger behind a tree.” Mom wanted to convince Pop that she was okay, so she added, “It’s probably nothing.” She kept repeating that she had been tired and probably had been imagining things. 

Ruth got an uneasy feeling about Mom.  Why would a strange man watch her?   She had never known Mom to be scared.  Ruth was not sure if she should be concerned about her mother or just believe that it was all due to being tired.

That night as Ruth was getting ready for bed, she picked up the court notification letter and re-read it for the tenth time.  Tomorrow was the appearance date.  She never did call a lawyer to represent her.  She couldn’t afford a lawyer, so she thought, why bother?

She had not shared this letter’s information with her parents.  She was just too ashamed to admit that her bad behavior resulted in hospitalization for her boss.  Would the judge put me into jail? she wondered as she climbed into bed.  She thought about praying for mercy but knew she did not deserve kindness after what she had done.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Donald had sold his parents’ house and had hired a very good detective.  The detective’s search was successful.  He found the name and location of Donald’s birth mom.  Her name was Valerie and she lived in upper New York State.  Giving him a map of Valerie’s location and a packet with the rest of the information, he wished Donald good luck. 

Donald studied the map and then decided that he was going to upper New York State the next day.

He got up early, and after a quick breakfast he began to travel north.  It was late in the day when he arrived near his destination.  He rented a room at a local motel.  He decided to take a shower and get a good night’s sleep.  He would check out the area in the morning. 

The next morning was sunny but not too warm.  He had seen a diner near the motel the night before, so he decided to walk over and get some breakfast.  When he entered the diner, he took a seat at the first booth.  The waitress saw him and brought a menu.  

“Would you like some coffee while you’re looking at the menu?” she asked. 

“Yes, thank you,” Donald replied.  After giving a quick look at the menu, he asked the waitress, “Do you have any specials?”  The waitress pointed to the board above the register.  Donald smiled and said, “I’ll take your handyman’s special.”    Then he asked the waitress another question.  “I just moved to town and am looking for work.  Do you have any suggestions?” 

“Our local newspaper may have something for you.  I’ll get our copy for you to look at.”  When the waitress handed him the newspaper, she topped off his coffee and then went to greet a couple that had just entered the diner.

Donald looked at the want ads as he ate his breakfast.  He jotted a few job locations and their phone numbers on his napkin.  Paying his bill, he returned to the motel to get his car and drove around the local area.  He found Valerie’s house.  Seeing her in the yard, he decided to park his car farther down the road in a location that could not be seen from Valerie’s home. 

He slowly walked back to take a closer look at his birth mom.  He managed to stay out of sight and watched Valerie plant flowers near the front porch.  He saw that she was pretty and that her hair was long and white.  He heard her singing as she worked in the garden.  There were several cats in the yard, and they seemed to like being near Valerie. 

Donald’s mixed emotions turned to a bitter anger as he felt the pain of not being wanted as a baby.  I was just unwanted garbage! he thought as he quickly returned to his car. 

At the car, he pulled out the notes he had taken when he was looking at the newspaper want ads.  He pulled out the one describing a need for a driver at the Animal Control 

Headquarters and decided to apply for this job. 

When he got to the Animal Control Headquarters, he filled out an application, sat down and waited for his interview.  A short time later, Mike called Donald into his office. 

“Please have a seat.” Mike said.  “I see by your application that you have lived in New York City. What brings you to Upstate New York?”

Donald replied, “My friends had mentioned a lot of good things about the Adirondacks, so I decided to see this area for myself.”

Mike pondered for a moment, and then decided that if this man had driven around in New York City, then he would be a good driver here.  “The job is yours if you want it.”  When Donald nodded his head yes, Mike said, “You can start 9:00 a.m. tomorrow” They shook hands and parted.
Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through

As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my endeavor.

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