Friday, August 21, 2015
November 1998 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
This series of posts on each Friday during 2015 continues the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Here is a peek at ‘Life in Oak Springs,’ and the surrounding valley, in early November of 1998.
At 4:50 p.m on Thursday, November 5, 1998, the phone rang and Karen Winslow picked it up. It was her sister, Beverly, on the other end of the line, calling from her home in Jackson, Mississippi. “Winnie has died. He had a massive heart attack, late this morning. There was nothing they could do.” Beverly began sobbing. “I’m sorry, I’ll get myself together again. I just cannot believe it. He was so vital, so full of life!”
Karen listened carefully. She had never heard Beverly sound like this, and let her talk, waiting for an opening to reply. “Are you okay, Beverly?” she said. “What can I do for you?”
Beverly sniffed hard, “Can you tell Scott and Heather? I can’t do it over the phone.” More sobbing. “I just can’t.”
“Of course. I’ll go do that, and you call back when you know what comes next. OK?”
“Yes, thank you, Karen. I’ll do that. Just let the kids know. I’ll get back to you when I know about arrangements.” Beverly hung up.
Karen immediately set about locating Scott and Heather and arranging to speak to each of them in person. Her nursing and counseling skills kicked in automatically. She handled the task with ease even with the difficult circumstances. She had gone to the stable to talk to Heather, and then the two of them went to Scott and Rachel’s house to tell them. Lori had agreed to stay by the phone at the Inn in case Beverly called back sooner than expected. She didn’t.
Like Karen, both Heather and Scott were much more concerned about their mother’s mental health condition than the fact that their stepfather had died. He was an old man after all. They barely knew him. He was very nice to them, but he really was their mother’s close companion, not theirs. They expected he would die one day, but were expecting it to be further in the future than turned out to be the case. They were also concerned, of course, about what came next. Karen was a good person to have available to talk to. She assured them the next steps would come in order. It would just be a matter of hurry up and wait, over and over, for a while. They talked about possible approaches until they were comfortable with the most likely outcomes. They had called their father, Paul, and he had joined them at Scott and Rachel’s place. He had assured them that he would accompany them to the funeral in Jackson, if that turned out to be the right thing to do.
And, that is what they did. In addition, Karen, and Bart and Diane, went to the funeral as well. Rachel and baby Faith stayed in Oak Springs, of course; her sister and father were available to assist, as needed. Lori stayed to look after the Country Inn. Peter decided he didn’t need to go. He wasn’t that close to his older sister Beverly, and felt he would only be a distraction.
On their return, Karen summarized their observations when she spoke with Lori. “Beverly was completely composed, again, for the funeral. She acted appropriately, as Winnie would have wanted her to. She introduced us to his children and their families. We were also all surprised that they all knew, already, about Winnie’s distribution of his assets. Apparently he had been very open with his children, and with Beverly. They had a pre-nuptial agreement that was very specific. All of his Mississippi property went to his children, except that Beverly could continue to live in the mansion as long as she wished (as long as she didn’t remarry). All of his Missouri property and interests went to Beverly along with a one million dollar asset fund that was hers without strings. Beverly had seemed perfectly happy in the mansion, made them all feel at home, while they were there, and handled herself as well as anyone could have expected.”
Heather returned to school the day after her return and everyone else went on with their lives as usual.
Over at Bart and Diane’s house, Bart just said one more thing: “Well, I wonder what Beverly will do next.”
Diane replied, “Don’t we all.”
"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."
Dr. Bill ;-)