Friday, September 25, 2015

Chapter 2, Episode 3, January 1999, Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace

Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999

This series of posts on each Friday, henceforth, moving forward during 2015 will continue 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. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We now move into January of 1999, in novel format…

[In case you missed it, and want to learn the whole story...]
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Chapter 2 - Bart; Episode 3

Last paragraph from Episode 2:

[Karen called her brother, Bart, to share the news about Beverly’s arrival. To Karen, memories of Beverly were merely a nuisance. For Bart, memories of Beverly contained a lot of hurt.]

Bart and his wife, Diane, happened to be on an afternoon coffee break at their home when Karen called with the news about Beverly. “Not again. What have we done to deserve this? Ok, thanks for letting us know. Keep us up-to-date as you hear more.”

Looking at Diane, Bart said, “Karen says our sister, Beverly, has checked into HER Oak Springs Motel and told the staff that she has moved to Oak Springs permanently. Can you believe that? What do you suppose she has in mind?”

Diane touched the forearm of her husband, tenderly, and replied, “Well, I’m going to try to take the positive approach this time. Perhaps she has simply come to be closer to that new grand-daughter of hers. Becoming a Nana for the first time can be life-changing! I’m certainly living proof of that. Give her the benefit of the doubt.”

“I’ll start with the doubt, and then work on the benefit, whatever that might be,” Bart added, shaking his head.

“Bart, we’re 57. Beverly is 58. That is fairly old for becoming a grandparent for the first time. She no longer has anyone in Mississippi, with Winnie gone. She has not only a grand baby here, but a son and a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a step-daughter, a step-son-in-law, and even a step-grandson, now that I think of it. At our ages, being close to family becomes more important than ever, don’t you think?”

“I suppose you could be right, but I’d hate to get burned again, by my sister’s shenanigans. I am too old for that. Why didn’t she let us know she was coming?”

Just the thought of Beverly back in their lives flooded both Bart and Diane with memories, few of them pleasant. Beverly’s first husband, Paul Gates, and their children, Scott and Heather, were certainly pleasant memories, and now good friends and family members on a daily basis here in the valley. Scott Gates was Assistant Farm Manager to Bart in the Bevins Corporation, looking after the extensive agricultural operations for the extended family. He had married Rachel Nixon, his long-time girl-friend, daughter of the local newspaper editor, and they were new parents of Faith, a daughter born just this past fall.

Diane, who now was Manager of the Bevins Stables and Trail Rides, was also a partner now with their daughter, Jennifer, and Heather Gates in raising Palomino horses. Heather was a real asset to have around the stables, in the trail rides business, as well as with Jennifer’s (Dr. Bevins’) Veterinary Clinic. They each worked smoothly as a team in maintaining and growing their several mutual interests.

Paul Gates had been successful in not only continuing to raise their children (Bevins family next generation descendants) in the Oak Creek Valley but had created a very successful tourism attraction in the valley by rebuilding and promoting visits to the mill and surrounding activities such as canoeing/kayaking on Oak Creek. He also represented his children well on the Bevins Trust and was an active community leader.

His older daughter, Sheila, was another story. Although now well re-established in the community as both the wife of Peter Bevins and as Assistant Manager at the Mill to her father, Sheila would always carry negative memories for Bart and Diane. She had been a primary target during the suicide-attempted murder episode in 1987 in which their son, Jennifer’s older brother, Donnie, had died. Sheila had become an HIV carrier and still was, even after these many year later. She had not contracted AIDS, but it continued to be a threat.

That summer of 1987 carried other memories for Bart and Diane as well. They lost a son, but also discovered that Bart had another son. This discovery nearly broke up their marriage. Years earlier, it turned out, Bart had a one-night affair, at an out-of-town real estate convention, with a colleague, Linda, the young wife of the family attorney, Carter Ogden. When the son, Christopher Ogden was born, Linda never mentioned that he might not be Carter’s biological son. When teen-aged Christopher was in a car accident, that critical summer night in 1987, and badly needed matching blood, however, the truth came out. The other bazaar connection was that Christopher’s girl-friend at the time was none other than Bart and Diane’s daughter, Jennifer. The young dating couple had discovered that they were half-siblings.

In the ensuing years, Christopher went on to college and law school and had now succeeded his father, who died in 1996, as the family attorney. Jennifer had graduated from Veterinary school. She had married Brian Kirk and they now had a daughter, Ashley. Christopher had married Nicole Evans, and they had a son named C.P.

Sheila, along with Peter, had some rough years. They were each active with HIV/Aids support groups and survivors, first as clients, then as counselors. In late 1996, they had married and taken into their new family a son, Jeremy, that Peter did not know that he had, from the years he lived in a commune-like setting on the west coast. Jeremy’s mother had died, in Oregon, of AIDS-related complications, and DNA tests confirmed that Peter was the father. The boy, Jeremy, was now a fine, young, 13-year-old member of the next generation of the Bevins family.

Not all of these memories, for Bart and Diane, could be tied directly to Beverly, of course. But, memories of her, and her antics and departure that year, even twelve years later, still set off that string of memories from their lives, that could not be laid aside. They simple always flowed back through their thoughts, and conversations, on each occasion when Beverly’s name came up. They could not help it then. They could not help it now.

[To be continued - next Friday]

"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."

Dr. Bill  ;-)


  1. Nice update Bill, I love Bart's statement of " I'll start with the doubt, and then work to the benefit. Made me laugh :)

    1. Thank you, Sam. Your comment made me smile! Good combination! ;-)