Carrie began the next day early by reading one of her Gramma’s letters.
24 Oct 2001
I got your sweet card and I love it. You really made a beautiful card and I especially loved the flowers that you glued on. Dandelions are my favorite. Did you know that you can dry the long roots and make a hot drink out of them? The flowers can also be made into a tea or even eaten in a salad. I bet if you picked some for your class turtle, he would love to eat them. The leaves and flowers.
Just remember to not pick any by a road.
I got the last of the pumpkin canned and ready for your visit next month. We will make a dozen pumpkin pies so you can take some home and freeze them for later.
Sometimes we get to have fun and sometimes we must be strong and tackle the challenges in front of us. Just remember that we have God on our side, and if He is with us; who can stand against us?
Old Hank down the road finally caught who has been stealing his treasures. Why anyone would want any of that junk in his yard, well I guess we all found out.
Story is that it was the Johnson boys and they had been taking that scrap metal so they could sell it and buy some food for the table. Now Old Hank has gotten himself a couple farm hands and the boys go home with food each week. It’s a win win honey. Looks like Someone was giving a helping hand on both sides.
I know you won’t really understand a lot of what I write, but you’re a smart girl and I’ve confidence in you and I know it won’t be long before you can understand what and why I write.
Just because we may be going through some kind of hard time, it doesn’t give us permission to show disrespect. But it doesn’t mean we have to let people walk all over us either. Sometimes when we do the unexpected, we gain advantage. I know that’s how I got your grandpa to marry me. I plum shocked him silly when I first met him. We had been eying each other in church and that is the only place he had ever seen me, but I had been checkin him out and finding out all the things he likes to do and eat. I even found out where his favorite fishin hole was. He was clueless….as most men are, but don’t tell any guy that, they’ll just deny it.
Anyways, your Poppy had told his buddies that he was going to spend a Friday afternoon fishing since he hadn’t had any time to fish in a month of Sundays. That little piece of information just so happened to come to my attention on Wednesday morning, so I had plenty of time to set my little surprise up.
See honey, I already knew your Poppy was a good man, one who would last a lifetime. He was good to his momma and a hard worker but best of all, he loved to laugh. And everyone trusted him. So I knew I could respect him and love him and we would be good together. (don’t ever expect a man to know if he is good for you, it’s up to us women to get the man, even though the man thinks he is courtin’ us- men like to think they’ve come up with the idea and they love the ‘chase’).
So by Friday afternoon, I was ready. I was at the fishin hole a whole hour before your Poppy.
I probably shouldn’t even be telling you this story but I think it important that we pass on our best stories to our kids and grandkids. And your daddy is sick of hearing it.
Anyways, your Poppy got to the fishing hole and tossed in his line. It wasn’t too long and he had him a bite. Well he thought he had him a nice big fish. Oh what a fight it was and low and behold he finally landed his catch.
It was me.
Yep. I had swam under water and snagged his line and to the day your dear Poppy died, he honestly thought it was all an accident. See, I even hooked the hook into my swim suit to make it look good.
Now once a man lands a “mermaid” he pretty much is all hers to do with as she pleases. And the rest of the story you know since you are here. But we could have driven a truck into his mouth that day, it hung so low.
I hope to see you and your daddy soon! Be good and don’t forget to say your prayers and be strong.
Carrie was so glad that she had been able to save this letter especially since she wanted to be able to tell her kids one day all about it when she had a place to call home.
Breakfast was great, homemade biscuits with lots of sausage gravy and cold fresh milk. Carrie had helped Sam do the morning chores before they had ate. After they were done, Carrie spoke up before either Sam or Rhonda could “Is there a thrift store around town anywhere? I’ve been thinking that I might need baggier clothes and I know I need a flashlight. And maybe a hat of some sort or maybe I could cut my hair. I think I really need to try to disguise that I’m a girl. I hadn’t given that much thought before.”
Rhonda replied “There is a small store in town but it doesn’t open until ten; I can drive you over.’ Over Carrie’s head as she was finishing her last bite of biscuit, Rhonda was giving Sam ‘the look’ that said “DO SOMETHING,SAY SOMETHING” but Sam shrugged knowing that there really wasn’t much he could do.
“Hey Carrie, I know you are wanting to leave today but why don’t you stay just one more day and leave out first thing tomorrow after breakfast. That will give you today to get the things you need for the rest of your trip and” he lowered his voice in a conspiracy whisper “I think you being here has been a good thing for me, Rhonda hasn’t fixed this many treats in who knows how long and I’m hoping she will make some of her delicious banana nut bread this afternoon and chances are much better that she will if you stay.”
Carrie couldn’t help but laugh since she knew Rhonda had heard every word. She appreciated the thoughtfulness. “I’ll think about it, ok? And after I get the things I need, I’ll let give you my answer.”
“Fair enough” both Rhonda and Sam said at the same time.
Kitchen clean up went quick and Sam challenged the girls to a game of Poker until it was time to leave for the store. Rhonda won; she just could read Sam too well and could always tell when he was bluffing. Carrie had never played before, so she had some beginner’s luck but if she got in more practice, she would be good because she had a steady hand and a good poker face. Rhonda could never tell if she was bluffing or not.
Sam had to have lunch ready when the girls got back from shopping. When they left, Sam went into the living room and hit redial.
Carrie had so much fun with Rhonda as they shopped in the thrift store. She not only found a cool flashlight that she wore on her head, which kept her hands free, she found two big sweat shirts and a baseball cap with the Miami dolphins on it. But the best find was a radio that ran by cranking it up. So she didn’t have to worry about batteries and she would be able to listen for news or weather reports.
Rhonda almost had her talked into just braiding her hair but Carrie decided she really wanted it cut.
“It will be easier to keep clean. I washed it once in the sink in a park bathroom but it was hard to do.” Was Carrie’s reasoning “and besides, I can always grow it out later.”
“If you decide to stay until tomorrow, I’ll cut it for you this afternoon.”
“Thank you, I’d appreciate that. And I would like to stay but only if you’re sure that I’ve not overstayed my welcome.”
Rhonda sighed and honestly answered “I wouldn’t mind if you stayed forever, honey.”
Carrie smiled sadly at her as she replied “I have to get to my Gramma’s.”
“I understand honey, I really do.”
Carrie had taken a twenty out of her money belt before she had left the bedroom that morning and had stuck it in her pants pocket. That was the limit she had set for herself for the things she needed. She still had her money belt on though.
Her purchases came to $9.75, so she found some good deals.
Once back at Sam and Rhonda’s farm, they found a delicious lunch of homemade vegetable soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. After the lunch dishes were finished, Rhonda got out her good scissors and gave Carrie a haircut. If anything, the hair cut actually made her look even younger and gave her a pixie look.
“I don’t think that is going to work” said Rhonda.
Carrie was looking in the mirror “but I love it, it looks so cute!” She was thrilled with her new look.
‘But it’s not going to disguise you or make you look less like a girl.”
Sam had to agree but once Carrie ran and got her cap and put it on, the effect was better.
“Ok, I guess you could pass for a boy, IF you don’t let anyone get too close.” Sam decided.
The afternoon passed with more poker playing and practice and Carrie packing and repacking her bag to see the best way to pack things. And of course, banana nut bread baking.
Rhonda came into the bedroom carrying a fanny pack. “I want you to have this; it will give you more room to carry things, like your new radio.”
Inside were a small water filter and some ear phones. “You might want to listen to the radio but not want anyone close by to hear you coming. If you stick one ear bud in your ear, you can listen and yet still hear what is going on around you.”
“And both Sam and I want you to have the water filter. That way in case you aren’t by a town, you can still get water from a creek or stream. “
“Thank you so much.” Carrie said and on impulse reached over and hugged Rhonda.
“You’ve been very kind to me and I will miss you.”
“I will miss you too. Now go ahead and finish up, I’m going to start some supper.” Rhonda went out, closed the door, and wiped her eyes. She sure was going to miss her.
When Rhonda came out into the kitchen, Sam was there. He softly began to tell her of the phone call he made that morning.
Later, Sam made a quick trip into town.