A Summer's Odyssey IV Chapter 3


A Summer's Odyssey IV
Chapter 3

Susan’s memorial service ended and a caravan proceeded to Wells Point where open sided tents had been set up and a catering staff was finishing the preparation for the meal. Those new to the area were impressed with the beauty of the area and the fantastic view of Broad Creek. Clan members freely intermingled with the guests answering any and all questions. The atmosphere of the gathering was far from austere. The pleasant environs banished any gloom. The noon buffet meal was well received and enjoyed. As some settled to enjoy the cooling breeze the children began to play tag while the teens and adults enjoyed badminton and volley ball. The games ended by 4:00pm. Krista led Kylie and Larry, carrying Sonny and Rayne, with Callie carrying Susan’s ashes into the Wells-O’Brien Cemetery. The six headed inside the enclosure while everyone else gathered about the stone walls. Bottles of soap bubbles were distributed to those along the walls. Standing atop a ladder, Tony recorded the ash spreading celebration.

“My mother loved life,” Callie spoke clearly. “Now I understand why she fell in love with everything about the Clan Wells Point. She knew that her grandchildren had a loving family and home. Despite the short time she received succor here she was so impressed she asked that her ashes be scattered here, amongst the resting place of the ancestors of the Clan Wells Point’s inspiration, Krista Scott. I look forward to joining the Clan and honoring my mother’s faith in me. Please open the soap bottles and fill the air with sparkling bubbles as we scatter the last earthly remains of Susan Warren upon this beautiful garden.”

Everyone dipped their bubble wands into the bottles and began to blow bubbles. With nearly one hundred people blowing bubbles, the air was quickly filled with a myriad of rainbow hued spheres wafting willy nilly in the gentle breeze. The sight was one of awe inspiring beauty. With surgical gloves on her hands Krista reached into the box of cremains to gather the ashes. One small handful at a time she lofted the ashes into the air amongst the bubbles. They walked about the enclosure until the last ashes were scattered. Then Callie and Krista lifted their arms heavenward and with skirts swirling spun in circles of joyous dance through the bubbles as they frolicked around Kylie and Larry who held the giggling Sonny and Rayne as Rev. Giles intoned “From the King James Bible in Genesis 3:19: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

As Rev. Giles spoke Jimmy picked up his fiddle and Sam his banjo as Kylie accompanied by Larry began to sing ‘In the Garden’. Garden

The flow of bubbles began to falter since no one had a dry eye. When the beautiful song ended sniffling could be heard from all sides as the birds in the trees twittered while the leaves rustled in the gentle breeze.

“I want to thank everyone for sharing this wonderful celebration of my mother’s life,” Callie whispered as she sniffled. “Mom, I apologize for the wrongs I’ve done and promise to live the rest of my life honoring your memory.”

The celebration broke up with hugs being freely exchanged. The deputies were included. The Texans had never witnessed such a moving memorial service. It most certainly was nothing like the sad somber experiences they’d had witnessed in the past. This truly had been a celebration of life.

Krista, Lyndi and Teri stepped inside the cemetery enclosure to commune with their mother. “Oh my God!” the twins exclaimed as they started jumping up and down with excitement. Krista sprinted out to grab Callie’s hand and pull her inside.

Their excitement drew nearly everyone back to the enclosure.

Callie stood with her mouth hanging open as she stood beside Krista and the twins looking in astonishment at the monument and tugged her to Carol’s grave.

The hair and gown of the angel were wet with scattered pieces of seaweed.

“That’s my mom saying she approved of Susan’s graduation party,” Krista declared.

The CWP members smiled. The guests shivered wondering if Carol was indeed a guardian angel. The Texan Deputies exchanged looks of surprise. Just as so many others who had been touched by the Clan Wells Point their lives were forever changed for the better.

Callie and the deputies spent a pleasant evening at the main farmhouse cuddling Sonny and Rayne. As the day ended they returned to the CWP B&B they turned in for their last night in Wells Point. For the first time in months Callie easily fell asleep without what had become normal hours long tossing and turning.

Callie dreamed of the enlightening celebration of scattering her mother’s ashes in the bright sunshine. The way the bubbles floated and bounced through the gentle breeze glinting in the warm sunlight as she gave vent to the joyous release via the impromptu dance with Krista while Kylie and Larry sang ‘In The Garden’. In her dream she saw a startling sight. The way the ashes tactilely fell upon the bubbles created a pattern... an astonishing image... her mother! The cancer worn face smiled with unearthly beauty. There was utter joy and peace in her drawn yet angelic visage.

“Callie, be at peace,” the words flowed from the image. “I’m with Carol now, a second guardian angel for the Clan Wells Point. God has accepted your apologies and your promise to live the rest of your life honoring my memory. I can do no less. The Clan will see to it you are freed and return here. Never forget, my dear child, God and I love you!” Then the ghostly image blew a kiss before the bubbles began to float apart.

Callie awoke energized and hopeful. They had breakfast with the twins and their Clan family. Krista and Tony waited until the meal was complete.

“Tony filmed the ash scattering service,” Krista stated. “We reviewed the film last night and were pleasantly surprised.”

They played the recording on the computer screen. Callie smiled broadly while the others sat in open mouthed awe. The recording revealed the image formed by the floating bubbles of Susan smiling upon her daughter and grandchildren as her ashes were being scattered.

“I saw that in a dream last night,” Callie smiled. “She told me to be at peace and that she and God accepted my apology and promise.”

“I’ve made a DVD with that recording,” Tony said. “It also has the memorial service in the church and clips of your mom with the twins as well as the twins with Kylie and Larry. I hope they let you keep it to share with your fellow inmates.”

The deputies were now spooked but in a good way. The Clan was so spiritual and confident that life continued after death. The concept that loved ones graduated rather than died was one of hope.

“I’m not a Methodist,” one deputy said. “Could my family and I join the Clan?”

“The criteria for joining the Clan is to be caring, loving, and honest,” Krista smiled. “It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are as long as they’re compatible with ours. Two of our members are non-Christian Wiccans. You’d have to come here and ask us to join us. We’d get to know you and you us as we’ve done the last few days. If both sides agree, we invite you to join us.”

“I’ll most certainly be discussing this with my husband,” the deputy, Diane Hoffman, replied.

Krista hugged her and gave her the address for the Clan website and facebook page.

At that point Leroy arrived with the cruiser to take the three back to the airport for the trip home. Diane continued to discuss the Clan for the entire trip. Leroy explained that his wages for picking them up and delivering them to Dulles as well as the cost of using the cruiser was being reimbursed to the county by the CWP.

*****

The Clan enjoyed a pleasant late afternoon/evening picnic at the landing on Friday the Fourth of July. A late afternoon meeting of the CWP was held. After each operation reported their status, the directors, Steven Campbell, Kevin and Jane Stuart, and Robert Scott, thanked everyone for their work. Then Steven addressed the gathering.

“While CWP is prospering, what we’ve been fearing is getting closer. For the last few years people and businesses were paying more than fair market value for properties. The stock market is overpriced and out of control. Several large financial firms are on the verge of collapse. The financial market has been in trouble for months and we think things will implode in the next two to three months. That will cause a massive stock market correction. Thousands of mortgages are upside down, owing more than their properties are worth leaving them with negative equity. The collapse started with the crash of the sub-prime mortgage market during 2007. Fortunately we saw what was coming and we’ve retrenched. We’ve liquidated much of our stock investments since we’re sure the stock market will soon take a dive. I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes down fifty percent. Many business will go belly up. People will lose their jobs and tens of thousands of mortgages will go into default. A significant portion of the economy will begin to implode. The good news is the Clan is prepared to weather the collapse. We have no debt. We own all the Clan property, several of which we bought since they were being sold because the owners were overextended. We’re ready to take advantage of further collapse. We have enough liquidity to buy properties that go into foreclosure or close to foreclosure. We’ll only do so in the Bay Hundred area and we will not overextend ourselves. We’re already keeping an eye on several local properties we expect will soon be on the market. We’ve already contacted the owners to let them know we’re interested and if they deal directly with us they’ll have an immediate sale without realtor fees. We’re letting you know that we’re prepared for what’s about to happen so there will be no need for any worries.”

The meeting ended with Krista making an announcement that special guests would be arriving the first weekend of August. Reservations had been made for the Greens from West Virginia to visit the Clan. She gave a brief overview of the expanded family including the unique names of K8t and M8t, that M8t is a MTF TS and about the by then infamous Battle of the Transsexual versus the Bikers. The news they’d be arriving in their rebuilt 1958 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser was greeted with smiles by those old enough to remember the golden age of the American automobile. Everyone looked forward to meeting the visitors.

The meeting ended as darkness fell. Soon the kids and teens were having a ball with sparklers while the adults smiled.

Saturday July 5 at 3:00pm the Clan divided themselves between the DUKW, the Coconut Island fishing charter boat and the Teacher’s Peace charter boat. The three vessels were able to handle the entire Clan. They sailed around Bay Hundred into the Miles River opposite the Chesapeake Maritime Museum in St. Michaels about two hundred feet off the forest on Fairview Point on the north shore arriving about 6:00pm. The Teacher’s Peace anchored first parallel to the shore. The Coconut Island eased up so the bow sprit tucked on the shoreward side of the TP before anchoring. The DUKW backed against the stern of the CI before anchoring. They tied the three vessels together so the Clan members could easily pass from one boat to another. On port side of the larger Coconut Island grills were set up and other goodies placed upon the top of the cabin for a picnic spread. The kids, teens and many of the adults went into the water to swim and just splash around. As dusk fell everyone settled onto the starboard side of the vessels to watch the fantastic fireworks display that was launched from the point of farmland between Tide Mill Cove and the Maritime Museum. The booming echoed and re-echoed across the Miles River. The colorful brilliant aerial displays reflected off the still waters of the estuary.

Cheers and boat horns tooting echoed across the waters at the resounding conclusion of the patriotic display. With practiced ease the three CWP vessels disengaged and headed for home. It was just past midnight when the convoy broke up to head to their individual docks. Everyone was in bed by 1:00am.

*****

At 6:30am on July 6, Gretchen received a call from her oldest brother, Harold. Her father, Winston, was in the hospital having suffered a major heart attack. The doctor’s prognosis was not good and could die at any time. Harold informed Gretchen their dad’s last wish was to see her and his grandchildren. Naturally Gretchen promised to catch the first flight to Vancouver.

The entire Clan rallied. As Gretchen and Cynthia packed bags Steven attempted to make flight reservations but found there were no direct flights. The best he could get was a one stop flight/transfer with a flight time of nine hours boarding at 1:00pm. After a quick conference call to Kevin, Jane, and Robert, the other directors of the CWP, Steven contacted a non commercial flight operation renting a LearJet that would leave Baltimore at 11:00am on a five and a quarter hour direct flight. At 10:00 a private helicopter landed in the grassy triangle at the intersection of Long Cove and Tree Lanes. Gretchen, George, Benny Cynthia and Steven with their luggage boarded in minutes and sped off to the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshal airport. The forty mile flight took twenty minutes. The Learjet took off a few minutes before 11:00am for Vancouver.

*****

That same afternoon Robert, Jane, Kevin, Gilligan and Mary Ann traveled to St. Michaels to check out what had been Susan’s home. The address was 301 West Chew Street, the last home on the street just past the intersection with Tilden Street. Waterfront Park was between Tilden Street and San Domingo Creek, crossing West Chew Street bordering 301 West Chew Street. The public dock in Waterfront Park extended off the end of West Chew Street. It was the same dock The CWP Contracting and Construction had enlarged last year and was the berth of the Coconut Island. The house was perfectly situated to the ship’s birth. The house could serve as the ticket office and with a bit of remodeling as a B&B. The public boat launch was at the south end of the park.

The main portion of the home was a two story forty feet by thirty five feet. A one story twenty feet by thirty feet wing came off the northeast corner. A two story twenty five feet by twenty five feet wing came off the southeast corner of the main part. A forty feet by thirty feet two story garage was located five feet southeast of the southeast wing. They decided to add a one story twenty five feet by thirty five feet extension to the southeast wing along side and attached to the garage.

The main home and southeast addition could be remodeled into a B&B with six ensuite rooms on each floor. The Northeast addition would be split in half. One part to be the B&B office as well as the ticket office for the Coconut Island tours while the other would be a kitchen/dining room combo for the B&B. The addition connecting the house to the garage would become an apartment as would the second floor of the garage. The Evans family would move into the larger second floor apartment.
The new B&B would be named the CWP Susan’s Place B&B

*****

After landing at Vancouver International Airport by 2:00pm Pacific DSL time they were in a taxi heading for Vancouver General Hospital. At 2:40 a very concerned Gretchen led her new family into the acute care waiting room.

Doris, Denise and Gregory, the spouses of her siblings, were in the room riding herd on their seven children. Doris was the one to recognize her sister-in law. “Oh my God... Gretchen! How did you get here so quickly?”

“We flew in,” Gretchen explained as she hugged Doris. “How is dad? Is he still alive?”

“Yes, but it doesn’t look good,” Denise answered as she hugged Gretchen.

“We think he’s been hanging on to say goodbye to you,” Greg added as he hugged her.

Gretchen hugged her nieces and nephews then introduced her sons and American in-laws to her Canadian in-laws, nephews and nieces. Benny was noticeably shy but allowed his aunts and uncle to hug him after his grandparents nodded it was okay. The receptionist contacted the acute care nursing station that Gretchen had arrived. In moments Harold burst through the doors.

Startled to see Gretchen, he wearily smiled and swept her into a warm embrace. “I don’t know how you made it so quickly but it’s good you did. Dad’s still hanging on but he hasn’t responded to us for the last hour.” Looking at the other newcomers he saw the two children he didn’t know. “Your’s?”

“Benny and George,” Gretchen replied as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Benny, your grandpa Winston would like to see you. I’m your uncle Harold. Will you let me carry you while your mom carries George?”

Benny glanced at Cynthia and Steven who nodded their heads. The two year old reached up to his uncle.

Three minutes later Harold led Gretchen into the room. Upon seeing her haggard father it took all her will power to keep from gasping. Her mother, Elizabeth, was seated by his side holding his hand. She bit her lips as she smiled with gratitude to see her youngest daughter and grandchildren.

“Winnie, Winnie, Gretchen’s here! She has Benny and George,” Elizabeth managed to keep from crying. “Winnie, Gretchen is here to see you!”

The weary man stirred for the first time in over an hour. “Gret... Gret...” he mumbled.

“Yes, dad, Gretchen is here,” Diana, Getchen’s sister seated on the other side of her dad said when she saw her mother was too emotional to speak. “Gretchen, come over here and take daddy’s hand.”

With tears rolling down her cheeks Gretchen moved into the space vacated by her older sister who took little George. “Daddy, I’m here,” Gretchen whispered as she took his hand in hers and leaned over to kiss his cheek.

“Gret... Gretch,” Winston rallied as he squeezed her hand and opened his weary rheumy eyes to gaze upon the tear strewn face of his baby. “I... I’m sorry, baby.” He drew in a raw gasping breath. “I was wrong to turn my back on you. I...” A shallow rasping cough shook his body.

“Daddy, it’s okay. I was wrong about Ben and you were right. There is no need to apologize,” Gretchen reassured him as he struggled to catch his breath.

“I’m dying,” Winston gasped. “I need to apologize.”

“Okay, daddy, I forgive you and thank you for apologizing,” Gretchen whispered as she struggled to hold back her tears.

“Your children...” Winston gasped.

“They’re right here, daddy,” Gretchen sniffed as Harold and Diane moved to hold the children beside their mother.

“Thank you, they’re beautiful,” Winston wearily smiled as he looked upon his youngest grandchildren for the first and last time. Then he looked around at his four children and wife. “It’s almost time. I’m sorry I messed up so much... kids... don’t be stubborn like me... never be ashamed to admit you were wrong. Tell everyone I love them. Liz... I’ll be waiting...” With that his body shuddered and his eyes closed.

Everyone was in tears as the alarms on the monitors went off. A nurse hurried in noting the flatline. Quietly she shut off the alarms and left the grieving family. The doctor on duty with the nurse entered and checked the still man. No words were needed as they disconnected the monitors and drips. When they finished they stepped back to let the sniffling family say goodbye to their patriarch.

Gretchen and Diane moved to their mother and wrapped her in a loving hug as the grieving widow cried. Harold and George stood stoically behind them. After five minutes, Harold cleared his throat. “Mom, we should go out to the others.”

Elizabeth nodded her head but didn’t move.

Gretchen walked around the bed and slipped her hand into her mothers then leaned forward to kiss her father. “Goodbye Daddy, I love you.” Then she stepped back.

Diane handed baby George to her brother George then leaned over to kiss her father goodbye. She then walked around the bed to sandwich her crying mother with Gretchen. The uncles holding their nephews, placed a hand on their father’s still hand. Supported by her daughters Elizabeth leaned forward to kiss Winston’s lips for the last time. Silently they stepped back as the patiently waiting nurse stepped forward to pull the sheet over his head. With that the grieving family headed to the waiting room.

The instant they saw the solemn tear stained faces, the waiting spouses and grandchildren knew Winston had passed. Doris and Denise joined in the group hug of a very distraught Elizabeth. The older children understood that their grandfather had died and began to cry. It didn’t take long for the gloom to have all the children crying. It was 3:10pm, a half hour after Gretchen had arrived.

Once they ran of tears Gretchen solemnly introduced her in laws to her siblings and mother explaining they’d chartered a Learjet to get her to Vancouver. If she’d taken commercial flights
she wouldn’t have arrive until 8:00pm.

“Thank you for getting Gretchen here in time,” Harold said to Steven and Cynthia. “I’m sorry we can’t reimburse the costs...”

“There’s no need to worry what it cost,” Steven smiled. “When word of Winston’s heart attack spread through the Clan Wells Point they all agreed it was more important that Gretchen get here ASAP rather than worry about the cost.”

Harold was puzzled. “What’s the Clan Wells Point?”

“Seventy two people make up The Clan Wells Point,” Steven explained. “We’re a disparate collection of caring adults and children. We have individual family homes on commonly owned land and operate several successful businesses. We’re a modern commune working together for the common good without the need to have everyone receive the same benefits and life style. We remain individuals within the whole. To join everyone exchanges their land and savings to the Clan in exchange for shares of the whole which makes everyone in the CWP millionaires. Some, like Gretchen, had nothing to exchange but the Clan voted her and Benny in just the same. We take care of our own.”

Harold and those listening were surprised. They thought communes to outdated hippyish dinosaurs.

By this time it became evident to Cynthia and Steven that the grieving family didn’t know what to do. With a silent glance, Cynthia moved to comfort the women while Steven did the same with the men.

Thirty year old Harold was the new family patriarch and totally unprepared for the position. Twenty nine year old George was no better. Brother-in law twenty eight year old Gregory was equally overwhelmed.

“This may sound inappropriate but have any arrangements been made,” Steven asked after several moments of obvious desolate confusion.

The brothers exchanged looks of guilt then shook their heads. “None of us including dad ever expected anything like this,” Harold sighed. “Dad took care of everything. He collapsed on the job yesterday afternoon. We don’t even know how to complete the job.”

Steven sighed and spoke gently. “Do you mind if I may make a few suggestions?”

“No,” Harold replied with undisguised humility. “I’m ashamed to admit we’re lost and would appreciate any advice you can give.”

“I assume you’ve been here all day if not all night,” Steven began seeing them nod. “I’ve made reservations for us to stay at the Holiday Inn Vancouver. They have a restaurant, Stages Bistro and Lounge. It’s only a few blocks away. Why don’t we all go there for a meal. I’ll call ahead and have them set up to accommodate us all. We can discuss arrangements and make plans for the future.”

“Ah, that sounds nice but to be honest, we can’t afford it,” Harold said with embarrassment. “The business hasn’t been doing too well the last few months. I guess we should have seen there was something wrong with Dad but he never let us say anything. We’ve been going hand to mouth for the last six weeks. Dad kept trying to bull his way through but it caught up to him. Now...”

“We definitely need to have a sit down meal,” Steven declared. “The Clan Wells Point will pick up the tab.”

“For all of us?” George asked with clear disbelief. “You don’t even know us!”

“Gretchen and her sons are part of my family and the Clan family,” Steven declared. “You lot are also Gretchen’s family. Her family is our family. Like her, I’m sure you’re good people. That’s all I need to know. My wife and I stand by our family. Now, no more talk. Let the staff here know we’ll have someone pick up you father’s body as soon as they release it which will probably be tomorrow. Then let’s head out.”

Accustomed to being told what to do, the bereaved family did as they were told.

Forty five minutes later the family was ushered into a corner of the Stages Bistro and Lounge.

“Let me get this straight,” Steven said after half an hour of dinner conversation. “You know virtually nothing about how your dad ran Rich Construction.”

The three men nodded their heads in embarrassment.

“Winston was a megalomaniac and handled everything,” Elizabeth said.

“Okay, excuse me a moment while I make a call,” Steven said as he stepped away from the table.

“It sounds like you’d like me to come up and see what I can discover,” Robert said after listening to Steven explaining the situation. “I’ll brief David on what he needs to cover then I’ll fly up tomorrow. It’ll probably take a week or so to make sense of what’s going on.”

After thanking Robert Steven returned to the table. “The Clan Wells Point has a Contracting and Constructing division. I spoke to Robert Scott who heads it up. His son David is second in command and will take over while Robert flies up here to see if he can figure out the status of Rich Construction and get you fellows back on your feet.”

The guys exchanged looks of disbelief and confusion as Harold asked, “He’d do that? What will it cost?”

“Yes, he’ll do it,” Steven assured them. “The cost, if any, will be low, no more than expenses. It’s what the Clan Wells Point is all about.”

The next day Cynthia helped Elizabeth make funeral arrangement while the guys took Steven to the cluttered business office. Steven looked about the cluttered and disorganized office, sighed and with assistance from the guys began to sort through the piles of papers.

Robert arrived in Vancouver at 8:00pm taking a taxi to the Hilton.

The next two days Robert began trying to sort out the jobs while Steven worked on the accounts. What they discovered was an utter mess. Winston Rich had been an arrogant, prideful and volatile man, as he’d shown himself to be when Steven and Cynthia had rescued Gretchen and Benny in December. His often explosive attitude had caused friends and acquaintances to fade away. Along with that his frequent outbursts increasingly damaged his business reputation amongst customers and vendors. Good employees left for greener pastures until it was just Winston, his sons and son-in-law. This in turn caused a downturn in customers and higher costs for raw materials. The man had indeed been an utter megalomaniac keeping his family out of the business loop.

The funeral was held the next day, Thursday, July 10. Other than the immediate family, only a handful of people showed up. Even his siblings were no shows. The somber service was short and the burial service brief. Afterward, courtesy of Steven and Cynthia, the family had a somber meal in a private room at a nice restaurant. When the meal was over, Steven and Robert stood to address the family.

“Please don’t take what I’m about to say as condemnation,” Steven began. “I didn’t know Winston well enough to make a judgement. I only spoke to him one time and it was not a pleasant nor fruitful experience. From what Robert and I have discovered the business is a mess and virtually bankrupt. You all have homes on the family farm which is mortgaged to the hilt and in default. From what we can deduce he mortgaged the farm to keep the business afloat. Every supplier is owed money and none will sell to the business at business rates. It’s retail cash and carry only. As for credit cards, they’re all maxed out. From what you’ve said he had been wound up tighter than a drum for months. I’d venture to say the stress of impending bankruptcy is what brought on the heart attack.”

“He was always too proud and stubborn to admit he needed help,” Elizabeth tearfully sighed. “I truly loved him, but to be honest over the last several months I was debating divorce.”

“We knew business was bad but we had no idea it was this bad,” Harold admitted. “I’m an electrician, Greg is a plumber, and George is a roofer, none of us knows how to run the business. What can we do?”

“Honestly, the best thing you can do is close the business and let the bank take the farm,” Steven declared. “The business is too damaged to even attempt to sell and the bank will soon evict you from your homes. Winston’s estate is insolvent. I’m not familiar with Canadian bankruptcy law but I did some research. Since everything was in Winston’s name and he left no will, none of you can be held responsible for his debt. At the same time there will be nothing left to inherit. I took the liberty to make an appointment with a lawyer for tomorrow. I’ll accompany you and present the debts owed. The jobs you’re working on will need to be notified that work cannot continue and the business has closed with no assets. You’ll have a few weeks before you’ll have to move. You’ll need to get other jobs and find new homes.”

The family exchanged looks of disbelief and fear.

“An alternative is for you to pack up and move to Maryland,” Robert announced. “I’m sure Gretchen would love to have you nearby. The Clan Wells Point Contracting and Construction consists of myself, my sons David and Larry and eight employees although currently there are only five. Larry left to take over the Clan Wells Point Organic Farm but still helps out if needed, the electrician, the roofer, and the plumber have all moved away so I’m short handed. We’ve been using temp workers but they need a lot of supervision and are unreliable. Gentlemen, I can offer each of you a job if you want it and we’ll help you find a place to live. As the Clan expands there will be other jobs available.”

Again the family exchanged looks of disbelief but this time tinged with hope.

“Please join us,” Gretchen declared. “The Clan Wells Point is the most wonderful group of people you’ll ever meet. Steven, Cynthia, and Robert came here to help you simply because you’re my family. If you come to join us you won’t be disappointed!”

“You are all welcome to join us,” Steven said. “But I’ll warn you up front if you’re bigoted stay away. We have several transgender members as well as some gay and lesbian members.”

“My youngest son’s wife is transgender as is one of my granddaughters,” Robert added. “That granddaughter is fourteen and the driving force behind our Clan. If you can accept that, then you’ll be welcomed.”

“If we move where would we live,” Elizabeth asked.

“That depends on you,” Steven smiled. “You might have to rent until we can secure permanent housing. If so we’d make the arrangements and pay the rent. But we have our eyes on some of the neighboring properties we think will soon be available. As Canadian immigrants to the United States you’ll need to obtain lawful permanent residence, a green card. You can do so either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, Benny and George, or as employment-sponsored immigrants.”

That evening Robert flew home. The next day Steven accompanied Elizabeth and her four children to see an estate lawyer. After reviewing the presented documents the man was reluctant to get involved since it was doubtful funds would be available to pay him. Steven set it up so that the CWP would, with documentation, pay his fee if the estate settlement didn’t. The family signed all appropriate documents.

So it was that on Friday July 11 the Rich family began packing. Cynthia stayed with Gretchen and the two kids to assist Elizabeth. Steven flew home to make arrangements for them to move to Maryland. The two thousand seventy eight mile trip would take 45 hours on the road not counting stops and overnights. Not counting stops they planned to drive ten hours a day with the drivers swapping out as needed. They intended to leave just after dawn on Wednesday July 14.

On Saturday Steven called the owners of the first four houses on the south side Almost Neavitt Road. In the months since the rest of the properties along the road had been melded into The Clan Wells Point those owners had been having second thoughts about turning down the Clan’s generous offer to purchase their properties. All four were vacation homes and with the stumbling economy their income was down as their expenses rose. All were underwater in their mortgages, sinking deeper week by week with no end in sight. They saw the CWP prospering even though the economy was going down the tubes. Steven offered to assume all debts on the property with a small but decent cash takeaway for the furnishings. By Friday all four sold with closure by the eighteenth of July.

The Rich family had cleaned up their affairs in British Columbia and caravanned four and a half days to The Clan Wells Point. They arrived a bit after noon on Sunday July 20. The family temporarily crowded into the large first home on Almost Neavitt Road while the other three homes were winterized for full year round occupation. They were greeted by Steven, Robert and Jane as well as the teens who assisted with the unpacking.

The CWP held an evening picnic to welcome the Rich family. The newcomers couldn’t quite grasp they were being so openly welcomed. They realized that Gretchen had not been exaggerating about the CWP’s shared caring and love. The Canadian family was unanimously voted into CWP membership. Harold and George Rich with Gregory Harris became employees of CWP Contracting and Construction. As the other three homes were renovated, the Rich siblings moved into the three homes. Sons Harold and George, with their wives and children, moved into readied homes. The daughter Diana, with her husband Gregory and children with the widowed Elizabeth moved into the third home. The Clan Wells Point now had eighty four members.

*****

Starting Monday July 21 the Tidewater Titans began their four day summer Fundamental/Conditioning Football Camp and Fundamental Cheerleading Camp from 6am to 8pm. There were six age groups. The youngest who played flag football were the cubs for ages five and six. No one from the CWP was in this group. The next age group was the tiny mites for ages five, six and seven in the thirty five to seventy five pound range; James Harris was in this group. The next group was the mitey-mites for ages seven, eight and nine in the forty five to ninety pound range; Peter Scott, Leroy (LJ) Scott Jr., and Kevin Rich for football while Sandi Scott was in cheerleading. The junior pee-wees were the next group for eight, nine, ten and eleven year olds in the sixty to one hundred five pound range; Kyle Rich, Chris Olsen, Harold (HJ) Rich and George (GJ) Rich for football and Ivy Reese for cheerleading. The pee-wees were for nine, ten and eleven year olds in the seventy five to one hundred twenty pound range; Lyndi and Teri Scott and Joyce Rich for cheerleading. The oldest group was the midgets for eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen year olds in the one hundred five to one hundred sixty pounds; Tony Masters, Jimmy Boswell, Phil Abott, Dwayne Harper, Sam Evans and Marcus Olsen for football with Krista Scott, Jasmine Reese, Jenny Ewell and Holly Reese for cheerleading.

Needless to say having twenty three participants there was extensive car pooling. Two weeks of preseason practices were scheduled for Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays beginning August 11. The Saturday practices would end with the start of the season since that was the game day. The football season consisted of eight games with the first game scheduled for Saturday August 30. The regular season ended October 18th with succeeding Saturday games for championships if they qualified.

*****

Seeing all the CWP kids involved with the Tidewater Titans Elizabeth Rich noticed a need and spoke to her daughter and daughter-in-laws. With the CWP growing, there was a burgeoning need for an organized daycare. The four women worked well together. In addition, Diana had completed three years at the University of British Columbia majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in early childhood education. With Diana’s education she could easily guide the women of the family in setting up and operating a daycare under the auspices of the Clan. The idea of forming a CWP daycare had been previously discussed by the CWP so when Elizabeth raised the idea it was warmly received. When Kevin checked into the legal requirements for a daycare center they were delighted that Diana’s education qualified her to function as the director since she had accumulated 90 hours of college in early childhood education. CWP Daycare was quickly established.

The CWP prospered. Every operation had full schedules and steady work. The kinks were worked out of the recent expansion of CWP Organic Farm. Weekend workloads were set up to be shared so everyone had free time.

A couple in their eighties had a home on the other side of the Bozman-Neavitt Road from the home of Dr. Sykes and Rev. Giles. Like many retirees the economic crunch hit them hard. Their long time home needed extensive repairs and renovations but with savings and retirement funds much reduced they could no longer afford to stay in their home. Knowing the CWP had recently bought the four homes on Almost Neavitt Road they approached Steven about selling their home. Quite naturally the Clan was interested and quickly closed a deal beneficial to the couple who moved into a retirement home.

The shell of the home had several rotting sections but the roof was leaking, the electric and plumbing outdated, and the yard was overgrown. After discussion, CWP Construction tore down the building to erect a two story building. The center of the U-shaped replacement building was sixty feet by thirty feet with wings fifteen by thirty feet creating a thirty by thirty feet courtyard. The first floor would be a spacious and modern daycare center capable of handling up to fifty preschoolers. CWP Daycare would be able to move in by the end of September. The second floor was divided into six apartments fifteen feet by thirty feet with multiple outside stair access to an eight feet wrap around deck on the north, west and south sides.

Leroy was wondering why the Sheriff asked him to attend a meeting of the Talbot County Sheriff’s office employment committee. The Lieutenant in charge of Administration thanked Leroy for coming. They quickly got down to business. They wanted Leroy’s input on an applicant. Leroy smiled when they mentioned Diane Hoffman’s name and that he and fellow Clan members were listed as local references.

“Diane was one of two Texan Deputies who accompanied Callie Warren here for her mother’s funeral,” Leroy explained. “She was impressed with the area and, to be honest, the Clan Wells Point. She asked about moving to the area and wondered if there were any openings in our department. It’s my professional opinion that both deputies took their duties seriously, shared the duties and behaved in a professional manner. Diane had better people skills and asked probing but polite questions. As for my personal opinion, I feel Diane would be an asset to our force and to the Clan Wells Point. More than that I can’t attest.”

The committee thanked Leroy for his time and input. A few days later Laura mentioned that Diane Hoffman had made reservations for her family for the first week in August.

Just after 7pm on Friday August 1 a minivan slowly entered Wells Point Lane. The driver was pointing things out to the man seated in the passenger seat and the three kids in the rear seat. Upon reaching Johns Cove Road they turned north stopping before the CWP B&B. Laura came out to greet the Hoffman family. Jimmy and Betty Boswell came out to help the travel weary family carry their luggage to their rooms. Diane introduced her family, husband Wayne, sons Kyle, 9, John, 7, and daughter Judy, 6.

The next morning during breakfast the Hoffmans were told they’d be taken on a tour of the CWP as soon as they finished eating. Leroy and Krista arrived at the CWP B&B in the DUKW as the family emerged on the front portico. Diane chuckled at Wayne’s startled reaction to the hulking bizarrely pink and green tartan painted amphibious monster. The kids had never seen a DUKW and laughed at the ungainly tartan behemoth. Krista stood by the rear ladder to introduce herself and her father. Having ridden the beast before and setting an example for her family Diane cheerfully and quickly climbed the ladder. Then she turned back to help the eager children aboard. Wayne helped steady the children as they eagerly clambered up the ladder. The expression upon his face revealed his doubt and a tinge of fear.

Once everyone was seated Krista sat behind the wheel and proceeded down Johns Cove Road before turning east on Wells Point Road. Wayne’s eyes were wide seeing the young teen girl driving the huge rumbling machine. Wayne looked to his wife only to see her smiling smugly. Then he looked to Leroy hoping for some sort of sanity.

“Relax,” Leroy chuckled. “Krista is my daughter and has a junior pilot’s license to drive this monster as long as a licensed adult is onboard. Obviously, Diane didn’t mention that I’m a Talbot County Deputy. I’m the one who locally coordinated her on-duty trip in June.”

Wayne looked to Diane who broke out laughing. Realizing he’d been duped, he shook his head. Then another bit of what Diane had said popped into his mind. Turning to look closely at Krista his mouth dropped open.



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