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Monday, May 11, 2015

Cara Mia Delgatto and the Bye-Bye Birdie, Epilogue

Note: We've had so much fun with serialized stories that I'm trying my hand at one again! Here's the next installment of a new adventure for Cara Mia Delgatto and her friends. To read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 scroll to the bottom of the blog where it says OLDER POSTS.


A month after the community had pulled together to landscape Martin Gardens, I received an invitation in the mail to come to a special dedication ceremony. Skye, MJ, Honora, EveLynn, Poppy, and Sid told me they'd gotten similar notes. And so, on a Sunday afternoon, we gathered in the atrium of Martin Gardens. As I looked around, I saw many faces I recognized from our long day of work. Cooper Rivers came over and pecked me on the cheek, despite the dirty look from my sister, Jodi. Detective Lou Murray was there with his big boss, the Chief of Police, Aaron Reiss. Promptly at two, Greta approached the microphone.

"Words cannot express how much you've done for all our residents. As you'll see, the grounds are fantastic, and in a minute, I'll invite you to stroll outside and enjoy them. But first, I want to introduce a man I'm very proud of, my son Freddie," and with that, she stepped away from the podium.

Freddy looked fantastic in his blue tie and navy suit. Although sometimes it was hard to understand him, he spoke with a great deal of confidence. "My mom has always told me that love is the most important super-power any hero can have. She is my super-hero, so I believe that must be true. When I come to visit her here, I see other people who are struggling. I struggle sometimes. But when we struggle with friends, all of us do better than when we are alone. The day we worked outside I made a new friend, James Boehner."

As Freddy gave the CEO a hug, the crowd began to clap, but Jay used his hands to signal for quiet. "I was younger than Freddy when my grandmother came to live with us. My father's mother had always been an active woman who enjoyed playing canasta, going to church, singing in the choir, and knitting. But after she took a tumble, it was decided that she shouldn't live alone. My two sisters and I did all we could to make Mimi welcome, but she was angry and bitter. Mostly she took it out on my mother, in secret ways so that my father didn't know. Mimi also sowed the seeds of distrust between my parents. In two short years, she managed to turn our happy home upside down. My sisters and I no longer felt comfortable bringing home our friends. My mother and father quarreled bitterly. Mimi complained of various ailments. Looking back, I can see how frustrated she was with all she'd lost, but at the time, all I could do was watch my parents' marriage dissolve. I vowed that one day I would find a place where people like Mimi could live and enjoy their lives once more. That's how I came to start the Boehner Group."

By now, most people's mouths were open, as I know mine was. I never expected to hear anything so personal or so heartfelt. Skye reached over and grabbed my hand. I grabbed Honora, and so on until we were a united front.

"Greta Morgan understands what I've been trying to achieve. She took initiative and risks--and when a woman named Helen Berger reached out to her friends, they responded by reaching out to all of you. Even though Helen is no longer with us physically, she'll always be here in spirit. With that in mind, I dedicate this garden to Helen Berger. And I've erected a panel that I ask all of you to sign. We'll frame it once you've finished so it's a permanent part of this residence, a reminder to all of what love can do."

Thank goodness they served lots of punch, because I must have wept a gallon. The lump in my throat was impossible to swallow. As we wandered outside, my jaw dropped for the second time that afternoon. Yes, most of the landscaping was exactly as we'd left it, but there had been additions. Notably, the flight cages were filled with small parrots who chirped and called. A large tortoise had been added, and he crawled around happily munching the greens put out for him. By the gardens was a rabbit cage. Two of the seniors who lived at Martin Gardens introduced us to Hip and Hop. Painted on the crossbeam of the gazebo was Helen Berger's name, with a framed photo of Helen in her younger days.

While Skye and Lou wandered off to see how the garden was doing, MJ waved to Pete, her friend, the veterinarian. He came over and asked, "How is Kookie doing?"

"MJ didn't tell you?" I looked from her to him.

"I've been afraid to ask. I heard about her owner dying. When I saw that cockatoo, it was almost on its last legs," said Pete. "So go ahead, I'm ready to hear what happened next."

I smiled. "Jay came up with an idea. He had recorded Helen talking to Kookie. He gave the recording and Helen's favorite sweater to Skye. She wore the sweater and played the recording, endlessly. We all took turns feeding him figs, grapes, and peanuts. It took a long time, but Kookie made it. He's back at my store right now. Sitting on his perch."

"Did I hear my name taken in vain?" Jay appeared at my elbow. "Were you talking about Kookie?"

Pete grinned. "That's wonderful news."

 MJ winked at me, and I blushed. The other news was that Jay and I were dating.

Yes, I had a lot of reasons to be glad that Helen Berger had come into my life.

~ The End ~

A Note from Joanna: Thanks so much for taking this journey with me. If you've enjoyed it, let me know. I'll decide whether and how to do it again with another serialized piece of work!



20 comments:

Teresa - Life in the Widow Lane said...

Love the ending!

Dana said...

Perfect ending.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the story. Love all of your work.

Anonymous said...

Terrie Allison says.... Joanna, thank you so much for the perfect ending to this great story. Can't wait to hear more about Kookie in your next story. I am such an animal lover as I know you are and I love how you add all of the wonderful pets to your stories.

Debra Zachrich said...

This tied it up nicely! Thanks so much for a wonderful, heart-felt story--once again! <3

oz nut said...

Joanna this turned out to be the best Cara story yet! It makes all of us think about aging and those that are close to that already have been given new hope. Your care for all things living shines through brightly. As I told you before, your timing was perfect for me. Thank you for your wonderful gift!
Barbara

Marcia said...

Beautiful heartfelt story. The more I read the more I felt like I was right there with them.
Hope to see more stories like this. Looked forward to each new part.
Thank you so very much for the great ending which I sure hope is the beginning to the next series.

Anonymous said...

The ending is perfect! Thank you so much for this story. It has helped me so much in ways you'll never know.

Nancy said...

I have loved reading this story. If you do another I will certainly follow it. You write with such heart!

Jan said...

Thank you for a wonderful story. I couldn't figure out it could have a happy ending, but you did it! I hope you continue to do this often!

Jan Nelson

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the story. New installment each day is fun!

Ellen McCaffrey said...

I really enjoyed reading the story as it developed. You are so very human and humane with your storytelling. I have read all of your books, and each one is a pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Loved it! Loved how everything worked out in the end! Great Story! Yes, Please do more!

Joanna Slan said...

My goal is to always leave the world a little better. Sometimes that's by sharing a story, but usually it's by reminding us to be our best selves. I know that's a lesson I need to learn over and over and over again.

Joanna Slan said...

Please share the story with a friend if that's appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Whew--Kookie made it! Great story. Thank you.

Sherry said...

What a wonderful story with a great ending...please do it again!

Leigh Ann said...

Absolutely love it! I love these because I can read a little each night or binge on it near the end. I really enjoy your writing style!

Susan said...

Loved it! Thanks for the story!

Peggy B. from Maine said...

You did it again Joanna, what a treat, free reading material that excels beyond the norm out there, in Kindle/PC/tablet Land. Excellent material, you have me hooked, Cara stories are getting to Kiki caliber. Thanks for helping me with my insomnia you are AWESOME.