When the two men came inside, Cassandra already had fixed a pitcher of lemonade for her son and put ice in a glass and filled it with whiskey for her husband. As both men sat down she handed their glasses to them. That afternoon was a time of celebration and reminiscing about old times growing up. By the time it was beginning to get dark Charles headed for the barn to put things away and Jeremy got his duffle bag out of the back of his truck.
Over the next year Jacob’s life was divided between helping to fix up his parents farm, learning how to repair tractors and seeing June. From the moment Cassandra and Charles met June they liked everything about her. Nine months later the young couple was married. Four months later Jeremy’s mother passed away peacefully in her bed. She was buried in a small cemetery behind the family’s house.
Her death hurt Jeremy and June terribly, but it hurt Charles the most and he turned to his whiskey bottle even heavier. June was pregnant four months with her first child and the stress of being around her husband’s father after he had been drinking put her under a lot of stress. She feared the stress she felt would make her lose her baby but when she gave birth to her daughter Ivory, she looked down at a beautiful six pound three ounce blonde haired, blue eyed child.
June wished her Cassandra could have seen her granddaughter before she passed away. Having a baby around the house Charles at first and his drinking slowed and he embraced the fact he was now a grandfather. But that was only temporary to the disappointment of the young couple. The following year June gave birth to another beautiful baby girl she named Cathy.
The couple and their two children lived on Charles farm and as the years passed, Charles drinking grew worse. His customers began looking elsewhere for their tractor repair needs in spite of Jeremy trying to greet them and handle their complaints. After the couple came home from church Jeremy asked his father if he could watch Ivory and Cathy while he and June took a drive over to Smolin, which was 11 miles from Salina in his truck.
Charles told them he’d be happy to watch them. Neither of them realized that less than an hour later a stolen Camaro whose driver was running red lights to get away from the two police cars in hot pursuit would slam into their truck broadside. Both of them were killed. It was a devastating loss to Charles. He had lost his wife and now the couple’s daughters had lost their mother and father.
Jeremy had a $100,000 life insurance policy in which left his wife was the designated his beneficiary. In the event of her death, the policy stipulated that his daughter’s Ivory and Cathy were to be given the money when they turned 18. Jeremy appointed his father Charles as the trustee of the child’s funds. During dependency hearings, the Superior Court judge awarded custody of Ivory and Cathy to their grandfather since he was their only blood relative.
Charles had his son and his wife buried next to his wife Cassandra in the cemetery behind his house. After the couple’s deaths, life for the two children turned for the worse. Ivory was now six years old and her sister Cathy had just turned five. Ivory loved her sister very much and she did her best to protect her from their grandfather when he was drinking. Charles quit his tractor repair business and began siphoning off some of the children’s insurance money to live on.
Charles world slipped into the hazy world of drunkenness, hangovers and bitterness of having his wife pass away, then his son and wife and finally his tractor repair business fail. He found himself saddled with two small children that he wasn’t prepared to raise by himself. But he wasn’t about to give up custody and access to the money that was meant for them when they grew up. Many times the two girls slept out by their parent’s graves on a blanket and hugged Buster for comfort.
Ivory and Cathy had to rely on themselves to dressing or when they had to get food to eat from cupboards or the refrigerator when their grandfather was passed out. It wasn’t unusual for the girls to see their grandfather passed out on the couch with a bottle of whiskey in his hand or tipped over on the floor. One afternoon Ivory was walking toward the garden as she held her sisters hand when they saw a huge tornado in the distance.
It was larger than any tornado they had seen before. As they stopped and started at it, it suddenly changed direction and looked like it was coming right at them. Both children hugged each other as they watched the tornado come closer and closer. They could feel the winds growing stronger and the roar they heard made them cling to each other even tighter.
Suddenly Ivory took her sisters hand and told her they had to go tell grandpa. They ran as fast as they could to the back door and ran through the kitchen to the living room. Charles was stretched out on the couch passed out. Frantically, Ivory shook her grandpa again and again. By now the tornado’s wind was howling outside as tears fell from both girls eyes as the curtains from the open windows flew in the air. Now they were they both shouting, “Grandpa! Wake up, wake up!”
To Ivory’s relief, Charles blood shot eyes opened and he squinted up at both children. “Grandpa, a huge tornado is headed right for us. Come quick and see!” Ivory begged as she took hold of his arm. Instead of getting up, he pushed Ivory back and she knocked her sister to the floor when she fell backwards. Tears were rolling down their eyes as they stared up and watched their grandfather close his eyes. Ivory helped her sister up and as they looked at their grandfather, Ivory decided to try one last time to wake him up.
If he didn’t get off the couch and take them to the root cellar, she would take Buster and her sister to the cemetery where their mother and father were buried and hold onto each other. But this time Charles did wake up and get on his feet as he staggered to the back door of his house and look out past the barn. Charles eyes grew huge when he saw the size of the tornado 200 yards behind his barn.
There was only enough time to reach the root cellar and Charles ran for the door, falling twice. When he reached the door, the wind was terrible and he pulled open the door with one hand as he gripped the whiskey bottle in his other hand. He looked back only once at the two little girls right behind him. He gave them a mean glare and told them they couldn’t come in with him. At that moment, Cathy hugged her sister as they stared at their grandfather and tears formed in their eyes.
The wind was so loud neither of them heard the sound of the root cellar door slamming shut as they saw the barn being ripped to pieces. Suddenly, Cassandra’s ghostly spirit appeared at the cemetery and she ran to the grand children she had never seen. She stood between them and the tornado and she thrust up her left hand at the massive storm.
With a grandmother’s love, she held back the storm, but she couldn’t hold it back for long. Desperately she looked to her right and saw the root cellar door. Angrily she looked at the door and raised her right hand. Instantly, she ripped off the door and threw it into the tornado. When Charles peeked his head out, with her hand, she pulled him up into the air as she looked at him with hateful eyes.
“I deserved better than the hell you put me through as your wife.” she shouted above the tornados thundering roar. “Your son deserved better too. You never loved these children and I won’t let you kill them!” she shouted as her head motioned toward the tornado and his whiskey bottle flew into the tornado. Before Charles could utter an insult, he felt himself being thrown into the eye of the hurricane! Now the tornado was coming closer to Cassandra’s grand children now and she waved her left hand towards the farm house.
As Ivory and Cathy clinged to Cassandra’s dress, the children watched the tornado destroy the farm house as it moved further and further away. When Cassandra turned around, she knelt down and hugged both girls as they hugged her tightly and sobbed. Cassandra brushed back their hair as she looked into their eyes as she asked them if they knew who she was.
Ivory was the first to shake her head followed by her sister as they said, “You’re our grandma!” in unison before they put their arms around her. Momma showed us pictures of you grandma.” Ivory said as she hugged Cassandra around the neck. Tears flowed freely at that moment as the three of them cried. When Cassandra stood up, she looked around and saw the entire farm had been blown away.
Other then bits and pieces of boards here and there one would ever know a farm had been here. Cassandra looked down at her grand children and asked them if they would like to go to a place where they would always be loved? A place where they would see their mother and father again and the two girls nodded and smiled up at her as they wiped their eyes. Cassandra reached down and put her hands in Ivory and Cathy’s hands and the three of them headed for what once was the cemetery.
The headstones for Cassandra, her son Jeremy and his wife June were gone now as was the white picket fence that once surrounded their graves. When they reached the cemetery, the three of them disappeared and went to a place where love, not hate awaited them.
© 2013 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)