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Authors: Margaret A. Graham

Land Sakes

BOOK: Land Sakes
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© 2005 by Margaret A. Graham

Published by Revell
a division of Baker Publishing Group
P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

Ebook edition created 2011

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owners. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

ISBN 978-1-4412-3916-7

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

For Alvera J. Mickelsen,
writer, teacher, speaker,
who spends herself unstintingly in helping
other people succeed.

In memory of Nancy Lee Bates,
who left the world better than she found it.



Title Page

Copyright Page


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34


About the Author

Back Ads

What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.

Dorothy L. Sayers


The spring of the year is always beautiful in the mountains of North Carolina, and I hated to think this would be my last to see the blooming of the dogwood trees and the greening of the slopes. My heart was broke. I had been the housemother at Priscilla Home for many years when the board ups and decides I should retire. There was a bunch of new people on the board who did not know doodly-squat about what was best for the ministry.

Priscilla Home is a Christian place for women who abuse drugs, and although I was a couple years shy of seventy, I felt plenty fit to keep on as housemother. In fact, I had thought I was set for life. You never know, do you? I loved those women, and through the years I had kept up with a lot of the ones who had graduated from our ten-month program. Many of them told me I had made a difference in their lives.

Ursula, the director of Priscilla Home, had decided to go to seminary, so the board did offer me her job. “Esmeralda,” the young whippersnapper of a vice president
told me, “the work of housemother is too demanding on a woman your age, but we would like you to take over as director.”

“No, that's not for me.”

He upped the ante. “Of course, there would be a 25 percent increase in salary.”

“I'm not interested, thank you.”

That just goes to show you what greenhorns were on that board. They know I have got only a eighth grade education. I couldn't handle the bookkeeping, letter writing, or all that computer stuff. Besides, my heart was in helping them women one-on-one, day in and day out, not sitting in the office answering the phone and shuffling papers.

I didn't know what I was going to do. Financially, I was strapped. Never dreaming the board would do this to me, I had bought a car for Pastor Osborne. He's the pastor of my home church, Apostolic Bible, in Live Oaks, South Carolina, and for years he had been driving around in a two-door rattletrap of a compact. With three adopted children he needed a four door, but on the salary he made he could never afford one.

Ever since I came to Priscilla Home I had dreamed of the day when I could afford to buy a decent car for the Osbornes. For a long time it was only a dream. You see, when I was living in Live Oaks, I had lied to get Maria, a homeless woman, admitted to the hospital, and since I never get away with any lie, after she died, the hospital charged me with her medical bills. Only after I had paid off those bills did I see my way clear to buy a car for the Osbornes.

I called Elmer, my friend who runs the hardware store in Live Oaks, and asked him to shop around for a four-door, low-mileage car for the pastor. Elmer wanted to help too, so he loaned me the money at the rate of interest he was getting on his money market account.

I still had nine more payments on the Osbornes' car when my Chevy died. Too many trips up and down the Old Turnpike had tore it up. In the mountains, a body needs a four-wheel drive, so I found a secondhand Subaru in good shape and got a bank loan to pay for it. After that, it was nip and tuck, making payments to Elmer and to the bank, but by the skin of my teeth I was managing until this thing came up with the board.

I had no place to go. The Osbornes were renting my house in Live Oaks; I couldn't ask them to move. Besides, I needed the rent money they were paying me. Even with the rent money, my Social Security, and the three hundred a month I got as housemother, I was barely making ends meet. Having to leave Priscilla Home meant I would lose three hundred dollars' salary as well as free room and board. I tell you, the board could not have picked a worse time to pull the rug out from under me.

I went into town and put in my application at all the restaurants, the stores, and even the fast-food places, but nobody needed help. I checked the classifieds for an efficiency to rent in town. There was only one, and it was dirty as a dog bed.

The board told me I could take my time about leaving because the new director would need my help learning the ropes. Nancy, a nurse and a Priscilla Home grad, had
been my assistant for three years, so she would replace me as housemother.

The fall before all this happened, Barbara Winchester had come to Priscilla Home, roaring down the driveway in a red sports car. She pulled to a stop in back and stepped out dressed like a movie star—high heels, dark glasses, the whole bit. No resident is allowed to have a car at Priscilla Home, so pretty soon I took her keys, which didn't set too well with her.

Barbara kept telling me, “I'm the heiress of the Winchester fortune, and the only reason I've come to Priscilla Home is to keep Father from disinheriting me.”


“Yes. Surely you've heard of him—Philip Winchester? He's on the Fortune Five Hundred list. They call him Florida's Citrus King. He owns big companies in the States and has mining interests overseas.”

Well, when you've been in this work as long as I have, you take stuff like that with a grain of salt.

Like I said, Barbara came in the fall of the year with a dozen suitcases full of designer clothes, enough shoes to open a shoe store, lots of jewelry, and, hear this—
imported thermal underwear
! Seeing all that stuff, I figured she was making big bucks selling drugs.

She didn't fit in at first. But one day, after being at Priscilla Home a few weeks, she took a bunch of them clothes down to the laundry room to wash and then went outside to smoke. Some time later, I was in my room when I heard Nancy screaming, “Barbara, get in here!” She sounded historical, so I hurried down there.

Barbara got to the laundry room about the time all the rest of us did. Nancy was beside herself! “Barbara, look at this,” she said and held up the thermal underwear that had shrunk to the size of my hand. “You've ruined your clothes!”


Nancy kept pulling one designer outfit after another out of the washer—pantsuits, silk blouses, sweaters—some had shrunk to Barbie-sized clothes, and all the colors had run together.

“You musta never washed clothes before,” somebody said.

Holding up a tiny cashmere sweater to her chest, Barbara admitted, “I've never washed a dish, much less clothes.”

Seeing all that swanky wearing apparel reduced to doll clothes was bad, but it was also just about the funniest thing that had ever happened at Priscilla Home. It was all I could do not to bust out laughing.

“One size fits all!” somebody piped, and that did it! Barbara fell out laughing, which set us all off. I tell you, we were historical!

That broke the ice; it made Barbara one of us. Since she had no work clothes, she asked me to let her look through the secondhand stuff we have in the clothing room. Of course, she had plenty of the good stuff left to wear on occasions that called for such. As for the ruined thermal underwear, she framed them, and they're still hanging on the wall of the craft room.

Over time, Barbara learned a lot more than how to wash clothes. Nancy showed her how to load the dish
washer, run the vacuum cleaner, etc. The cooks taught her how to stir the grits, fry eggs, and roll biscuit dough. Driving the little snow plow was her specialty. All winter long, every time it snowed, Barbara zipped up and down our driveway like a house afire.

That girl beat all I ever saw. It tickled her pink, learning how to do stuff, and many's the time she said she wished her mother could come to Priscilla Home. She said her father told her that his wife didn't know how to do nothing.

It was strange the way Barbara talked about her mother. She never seemed to know much about her firsthand. If Barbara's family really was rich, maybe she hadn't lived at home a lot; maybe she'd been shipped off to boarding school and summer camp most of her life.

Although prayer and Bible study were all new to Barbara, over time she took to it. Albert Ringstaff, who was not only our neighbor but also our Bible teacher, came every morning to teach our Bible study. That man never tired of the questions the women asked, and I never heard anybody explain things as good as he did.

One snowy afternoon Barbara and I were in the kitchen, peeling potatoes, when we got talking.

“Miss E., all my life I've had this kind of funny feeling deep inside... I can't explain it. I loved to party, but after all the good times were over, I still had this feeling that didn't go away.”

“You know, Barbara, God draws us to himself one way or another. Maybe that feeling bugging you has been him drawing you to himself—bringing you here so you could hear about him.”

She laughed and got up to dump the peelings in the trash can. “In my case, he wasn't
—he had to
me up here to these sticks!”

I'm not the teacher Albert is, but by the time we got all those potatoes peeled, I felt like I had done my best.

In the late spring when the board dropped that bombshell on me, Barbara was awful upset, as were the rest of the women. They wrote letters to the board, and when the board didn't answer, it was all I could do to keep them from walking out.

BOOK: Land Sakes
2.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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