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Chapter Twenty-four

Tom gave Kaye a final goodbye wave; he noticed the lights were dimming and her vehicle wasn't running. He waited a few seconds, then put the truck in drive and rolled up beside the driver's side door. Kaye rolled her window down. She said nothing just bit her lower lip as if she was willing it to come to life. The engine made clicking sounds, then would try to roll the motor over then just clicked again.

“Well that doesn't sound very promising Kaye," Tom said.

Kaye was embarrassed at her vehicle not starting. "It has been getting harder and harder to start; I think might be the battery or starter or God only knows.

"It sounds like the starter Kaye," Tom said.

Kaye got out of the Jeep wanting to kick the door. Instead, she put her hands in her jacket pockets.

“I can give you a lift to the hospital if you would like, Or you can take my truck, it's old but has a lot of good miles left on it yet.” Tom offered.

“I can't ask you to do that Tom.

"Yes you can, let me help Kaye, I'm a good driver; I promise to get you there and back safe and sound."

Kaye reluctantly got in the truck and sat beside Billy. They were well on their way into town when snow began to fall. Tom turned the wipers and looked over at Kaye. “I didn't hear anything about snow in the weather forecast today,” Tom said.

"Flurries, maybe an inch or two is what I heard, but it wasn't supposed to start until later this evening; but this isn’t my idea of flurries,” Kaye replied.

The snow began to fall harder and faster; the wind picked up. Snow was drifting onto the road as Tom pulled into the hospital, Kaye got out and thanked Tom for the lift into Town.

“How are you getting back to the farm Kaye? I can't just leave you stranded."

"I will be alright I will see if a friend of mine can pick me up and take me home when she gets off work," Kaye replayed.

"No, it wouldn't be right just to leave you here Kaye. I'll park then come in he said.

“No really Tom I will be okay,” Kaye said. Tom wouldn't take no for an answer, so Kaye closed the door. She told Tom what floor and room number then darted in from the heavy snow fall.

Tom had parked the truck and went to the second floor and waited in the seating area. He sat there with his hat in his hand for Kaye. About An hour had passed, he had fallen asleep.

Kaye nudged his shoulder “I'm ready to go, Tom, I didn't think I would be this long,” Kaye said.

“No; that's okay gave me time to catch up up my sleep,” Tom replied. "How is your husband doing, Kaye, better I hope."

Kaye said, "His fever had broken and is resting comfortably, it was good news."

Tom got to his feet, and the two made their way back to the truck and drove home. The snow hadn’t let up. There were about 6 inches now, and the wind had increased. “You're not driving home in this Tom, I think you should spend the night at the farm, I have a spare room.”

Tom agreed it would be better to stay. He called his son explaining the storm but would leave as soon as the roads cleared.

Tom and the three Dogs were in the TV room watching the news; when he smelled the aroma of pancakes and bacon. “Boy, that looks good Kaye. Can I help with anything?” He asked.

Kaye was setting down a large plate of pancakes. Kaye smiled at the offer. “No thanks, I'm hoping this will be okay Tom I haven't had time to get to the store in a few days.”

He looked over the table the pancakes were steaming hot the bacon was crisp, and the maple syrup placed on the table. “I haven't had buttermilk pancakes and bacon since my wife passed away four years ago, It's a treat.” He said as he sat down waiting for Kaye to join him,

She was about to start then stopped when Tom folded his hands over his plate bowed his head. He looked up smiled passing her the plate of pancakes. “Do you say grace at every meal Tom?" Kaye asked.

“Yes I do, every meal and pray at night and in the morning, do you?” Tom asked.

Kaye took a pancake from the stack that Tom held out for her, then passed the plate of bacon. “I used to, I guess, I don't see the point, Tom. I went to church every Sunday with my parents when I was growing up; that stopped after my mother divorced my father. Ed and I don't go to church, we should, when my dad died; of cancer. I prayed for him; he only got worse. My mom isn't well; she has angina. I don't pray for her, or for myself."

“I know how hard that can be,” he began, “and it's easy to blame him for things beyond our control. My wife; Jenny, died of a brain tumor. There was nothing the Doctors could have done. I tried to make her comfortable; it's all I could do.” He buttered his pancakes. “I watched as her mind slowly went, a little more each day. Towards the end, she didn't know our son and barely remembered me. She didn't deserve that; Jenny didn't deserve to suffer that kind of thing. She was a wonderful friend, partner a loving wife for fifty years. She worked hard by my side, she never complained. But it's not God's fault; I wanted to blame him, and I did for a while. Deep down I knew he had nothing to do with it." He looked across the table looked Kaye in the eyes.

“Kaye I think God has a purpose for us all, we may not agree with his plans. We can fight if we want, it won't matter much; it won't change his plans for us." He was pouring maple syrup on his pancakes as he talked. “You know, I find it hard that you think you don't have any faith. You must have a lot more than you think, Kaye I think God is very close to you, I see him in you. You have a lot more faith than you think..'Tom said.

“Why is that.” She asked.

"You're a farmer's wife; you can't farm without faith Kaye," He smiled at her "This is an excellent meal."

Kaye smiled back, "I'm glad you're enjoying it, Tom, simple meal but a farmers meal. Good, I'm glad you like it, Tom, it's not what I wanted, but it's all this farmers wife had in her cupboards, I had a roast, but it wasn't defrosted yet,” Kaye replied. She got up and poured them both a cup of tea. They sat and talked during the meal and after Tom helped clear off the table. They chatted about farming the cattle Ed was raising. He told her his son was looking for a different breed for his farm. Kaye said they could look them over in the morning if he liked.

Kaye showed him to the guest bedroom and said good night. Tom pulled the curtains back and looked out the second-floor window. The yard light was dim by the intense winter storm. It had snowed over a foot of snow so far. He was glad to be here tonight. He thought it funny how things work out. He looked down at Billy who had followed him to his room and was now getting his head rubbed once again as he used to weeks ago before the accident. Tom reached into his pocket and gave Billy a dog biscuit. “Well old boy, by the looks of things we have a lot of work to do tomorrow."

He turned the covers down and got into bed. “Night Billy, it's good to have you back old boy,” Tom said. He reached over and turned the light out on the bedside table. Billy went over to his blanket that Kaye brought to the room for him, circled it a few times laid down rested his head on his paws, slowly closed his eyes and listened to Old Toms breathing become deeper as he fell asleep. Billy's slowly closed his eyes, let out a long slow sigh as well and rolled onto his side. It wasn't long before he was looking for the rabbits that seemed to need chasing ever night and fell into a restful sleep.

Tom woke from his sleep; it was strange a warm summer breeze was blowing through the open bedroom window. He dressed quickly and made his way down the stairs; he was in his kitchen, back home. He could smell the breakfast that was waiting on the kitchen table. Lifted the lid on the warming dish, Buttermilk pancakes, eggs, and bacon were in another. He put the lid back on the trays. He saw Jenny hanging the laundry out on the line; through the kitchen window. She carefully unfolded a white sheet. One end of it was still in the basket two clothespins were in her mouth. She pinned one end of the sheet to the line pushed the line down with her free hand taking a clothespin from her mouth and fastened it again then yanked the line a few more feet until the sheet was hanging. The summer wind would dry them quickly. She reached into the basket again then added a few towels a few face clothes and three of his shirts. The basket was empty. Jenny didn't turn she just stood there. He made his way outside. He said nothing just watched her as he had so many mornings. 

The wind blew her hair. She took a bobby pin opened the end of it with her teeth and putting her hair back in place. She turned and smiled “You shouldn't be here Tom, not yet.” She said. Jenny picked up the wicker basket, smiled as she approached him. She put her hand on his face rubbing his cheek with her thumb.

“I never forgot who you were; or Tommy, I was there, but I guess you couldn't see that, could you? I wasn't in pain, not like you think. Tom, you have to go soon," Jenny took his hand, and they both sat down on the porch swing. Tom was unable to talk to Jenny he could only listen. “Kaye and Ed have lost their way. I was proud of what you said to her. You stirred something in her last night. You're a good man Thomas Brennan; it's why I married you."

"Tommy is looking for a new breed of cattle, and Kaye and Ed have what he needs. They can't do it without help, Tom. Times are very hard; they're so close to losing everything.” Jenny turned and smiled at him she put her arm in Toms, with one foot she pushed, and the chair began to swing; you will know what to do when you see the Bible." Tom wiped beads of sweat that were starting to form on his forehead. “You best go now, Tom, wake up Tom," She kissed him softly on the lips held his face in her hands. He heard her voice like an echo, "Tom you need a pill, wake up Tom. Take a pill a pill a pill.” and she was gone.

Tom's eyes opened, Billy had his front paws on the bed, licking his face. Tom pushed him away. He struggled to his feet. His chest was tight and could barely breathe. He reached for the nitro and slid one under his tongue. The small bitter taste filled his mouth as it began to dissolve. His pain began to subside. Another dream he thought, so vivid, so real. The wind had died, and the snow had stopped. Tom got dressed and went downstairs.

As he walked into the kitchen he saw Kaye; her head was laying on her arm a Kleenex in her closed hand. He went over and poured water in the kettle to make some coffee. The sound of the water woke her. Tom looked over at her and smiled. “Morning Kaye, can't sleep?” he asked.

She was in her sleepers and wearing Ed's house coat. She gave Tom a sleepy good morning. The kitchen was cold. She went over to the thermostat to turn the oil furnace on there was no noise from the basement. She turned back and forth nothing happened.

Tom looked at her. “Tell you what; you make coffee, and I'll go downstairs and see if I can't get something going,” he said.

Kaye yawned and nodded in agreement. "I think we ran out of oil, but there are wood and kindling down there," Kaye said

Tom went down to the basement. The basement was old, had a rock wall. But everything was clean. Nothing out of place. He pulled the chain on one of the overhead lights. 

There was at least six cord of hardwood and a large neatly stacked pile of kindling laid up against another wall. Tom found the oil tank; the gauge read empty. But the furnace was oil wood combination. He smiled, there was a large stack of egg cartons for starting fires. He took half of one and tore it in four small pieces. Laid a few sticks of cedar and started a fire. He waited for the flames to get underway then added a small piece of dry wood then soon another. That would do for now; then made his way back up the stairs.

Kaye had heard the furnace door open and knew what Tom was doing. Kaye knew there was a good chance there wouldn't be any more this winter. “We're out of oil? I knew it was getting low, Thank you, Tom.”

“Well that furnace will warm the house soon, I'll keep an eye on it for you, nothing like wood heat now is there. Tom said.

“No there isn't,” Kaye replied. "Ed and I cut and split that last spring. There are about six cords. I think there is enough to see us through the winter if we're careful,” Kaye said

It had been a long sleepless night, being out of oil was just one more thing to add to the ever-growing stack of worries. She had tossed and turned, so she decided to go down to the kitchen. The bills were only a smaller part of her problems now. She was worried about how they were going to manage with Ed's broken arm. She felt if he was well enough maybe he could show her how to do things that needed to doing around the barns. Perhaps she would be able to do it with some help from Ed's dad. Maybe they could manage until his arm healed.

“I should have kept watching it closer; I wanted it to last out the month," she said.

Kaye pulled her hair back pushed her dark curls to the side of her face. “Well I better get dressed, I'm a sight, wonder I didn't scare you to death when you came in the kitchen this morning. I didn't sleep very well; I miss Ed being here Tom. The coffee is ready why don't you have a cup. I'll get dressed then make you some breakfast when I get back.” Kaye turned in the doorway as she was leaving. “It's nice having you here Tom,” Kaye said.

“It is good to be here Kaye, you have a beautiful place, It's nice to feel I can do something for you if it is only to make a fire,” Tom said.

He poured a coffee then sat at the table where Kaye had been sitting when he came into the kitchen. Kaye's Bible was open, and he glanced at where it was open and smiled. It was a Psalm, one of his favorite. Psalm One twenty-one, verse one. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from and he read on.”' 

He turned to another spot that was bookmarked and read a little then turned to the front cover. There were a few old newspaper clippings and a picture of her with her mom and dad; she had a sweet smile. In it, she was holding her University diploma giving the camera a thumbs up. A funeral announcement of her father's death. It was a well-worn Bible that belonged to her father. There was a short note in it. “Kaye; never give up and never lose your faith, I will always love and be with you." He didn't read all of it but it did make him smile. It was signed, love dad.

He closed it and laid it down to the side. Underneath, there was the black ledger left open. Kaye had been doing budgeting after he had gone to bed. He saw the oil was past due. The mortgage, student loan payment, feed bills marked past due. Tom laid the Bible back over the ledger and opened it where Kaye had left it and moved to another chair. He was drinking his coffee when Kaye came back into the kitchen.

“So Tom what would you like for breakfast? I can make up some bacon and eggs if you like.”

“Maybe just some toast and jam Kaye, I have been warned about the dreaded bacon and eggs, Doctor's orders thank you, though.” He said.

Kaye made some tea and sat at the other end of the table closed up the ledger quickly and laid it on the shelf.

“I think it must have snowed at least two feet last night,” Tom said.

“Ed's dad will be by this morning and blow the yard out,” Kaye said. 

Tom took a sip of coffee looked over at Kaye “Well I see there's a tractor in the yard with a blower on it, I can do that Kaye and feed the cattle too.” Tom was munching on his toast as he offered the help. “I've fed a few head in my time, would love to help, would like to pay my way.” Tom smiled at her.

“I couldn't ask you do that, Tom, your company and your just got out of the hospital a few weeks ago, but thank you."

Tom wasn't a person to say no to; he smiled at her “Well I got a clean bill of health Kaye, I saw my Dr yesterday so let me pitch in a little around here. Besides, I want to have a look at your cattle. My son Tommy and I are looking at starting a new breed. I would like to talk to him about them; If that's all right with you. Maybe you could go with me and show me your herd."

Kaye looked up at Tom was a little surprised at the offer. “Sure I can show them to you, Tom, if you like, there a little pricey, though, I think Ed is looking to get to get forty-five hundred for them, for breeding.” She thought the forty-five hundred price tag would let him know that they would be too much for him to buy. Tom looked at Kaye drank a little more coffee.

“I have heard they sell for as much as five thousand with testing and papers and showing a good blood line,” Tom said.

Kaye smiled at him and his knowledge. “Yes but the market is down right now, and I don't think we can wait till spring to get that for them, Tom. Ed and I have them listed, and have been talking to a farmer. You're right about the price; we have a lot invested in them. I know they will yield great calves," She said.

Kaye gave in and found a pair of Ed's winter overalls for Tom to wear and a pair of his winter boots and gloves. She handed him the key to the John Deer tractor.

“You take it easy out there Tom and no shoveling,” she said.

Tom was taking the keys from Kaye's hand and promised he would be a good boy while cleaning out the yard. The old tractor groaned to life then. Soon the snow was being blown into the fields where it belonged. Kaye joined Tom outside with a plastic scoop cleaned the walkway. In about an hour they were making their way to the other farm buildings. Tom drove the blower tractor over with Kaye driving Tom's truck. 

In another hour the yards were clear of snow and the cattle fed and watered. Tom had a good look at Ed's heard all very well cared for. He admired the feeding area that he had put in place for the calves. "Nice setup Kaye, I don't think I have ever seen anything like this,” Tom said.

Kaye was standing on the first board of the fence her elbows holding herself in place, looking into the large holding area. “Well, this will only be a breeding area soon. We never intended to keep the heard here. It's almost too small now for all of them.” Kaye said. 

Kaye was proud of what Ed had accomplished. “I'll show you the bullpen if your still interested Tom.”

They made their way to the bulls. Tom liked what he was seeing. “This is what I think Tommy would want Kaye. He has been looking for something and wanted my input a few days ago and asked me to do a little research on this breed as well. Well, there truly magnificent. So you have their papers and the testing results Kaye?” Tom asked.

“Yes, I can show you when we get back to the house if you would like. How many will you be interested in Tom” Kaye asked.

“Well if the testing is good and all the paperwork showing their bloodlines are all in order.” Tom looked at Kaye and smiled at her; I think four of the Bulls and perhaps 15 breeders as well and if their with calf we will pay you for them, Kaye.”

That reply made her eyes snap open. “Tom are you sure?” She asked slowly.

“Oh, I think we can manage it, Kaye.”

Kaye was not certain what to make of the offer, was almost too good to be true. She looked over at Tom who was studying the bulls. “Let's go to the house Tom, and I will fix us some lunch after we can go over the paperwork if you like."

“Lunch sounds good to me,” Tom said. He took another look at Ed's barns and the feeding area; he liked the way Ed had laid out the barns and the feeding area. It made everything easier. He climbed back into the cab of the old John Deere and made his way back to the farmhouse.

After lunch, Kaye went over the paperwork and the tests reports that she had on the cattle.

Tom got on the phone with Tommy and agreed to the terms. “I want Ed to be aware of this as well Tom if you don't mind," Kaye said. She added up the purchase price and prepared the bill of sale. Ed will be thrilled I'm sure," she said.

“I am hoping we can count on Ed's experience with this breed. Tommy will be here tomorrow, and we can finalize the deal then. I'm sure when he sees what you have, there won't be an issue. It 's nice to know who you're doing business with Kaye, and I like that." Tom said.

“I'm sure your son will be pleased Tom.” Kaye looked over at the collie, smiled at him. ”It's strange how things work out Tom, isn't it,” Kaye said.

Tom patted Billy's head nodding. “Yup, it is Kaye, it's a match made in heaven.” 

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