Tumbleweeds, p.43Leila Meacham
“We had some good times, Cathy.”
“Yes, we did.”
“He loved us, you know.”
“Do you forgive him?”
They spoke profile to profile. John did not turn his head to her when he asked, “When did you fall in love with me, Cathy?”
She should have been shocked that he knew, but she was beyond shock. She had kept her attention diverted as well, watching a scrap of paper pirouette in the gentle wind as if twirling to a song. Jack’s in love with someone who loves my brother Jim, and he’s in love with someone not in love with him.
Such was life.
“I don’t believe there was an exact moment,” she said. “One day, years ago, the feeling was just there. How long have you known?”
“For some time. One day the knowledge was just there.”
“It wasn’t by default. I want you to know that.”
“I’ve always known that.”
The heat of the metal was soothing to their backs. The day was crystal clear. After a while, John said, “I’m leaving, Cathy. I’ve asked to be reassigned to teach at Loyola.”
She looked off across the road to where the prairie began. The wildflowers were dying. Didn’t they always? But they’d bloom again in spring. “When?” she asked.
“In a week’s time.”
“Why so soon? Classes don’t start until fall, do they?”
“They want me for the summer session.”
He unlocked his arms and took her hand. “What are you going to do?”
In that instant, she made up her mind. “Turn the café over to Bebe, and use money from the sale of Trey’s condo to go to medical school.”
She felt his surprise but his lack of it, too. “Trey would like that.”
“At fifty, I’ll probably be the oldest doctor on record to graduate.”
He squeezed her hand encouragingly. “And the finest one, too.”
They would share holidays and vacations, summer breaks, outings, and Sunday evening telephone calls. Distance would not separate them. They were family. She could live with that.
She heard a rumble at the gate far down the road. Silva shot out from under her hand as Will’s Wrangler came into view. Father and son sat in the front. Will had been helping his dad pack. The Silverado had been turned in to the parish, and in a little while Will would be driving John to New Orleans. Lunch was waiting, their last meal together for a while. Cathy stood to greet them and lifted her hand to shield her eyes from the sting of the sun.
EMMA’S HOT-WATER CORN BREAD
Pour 2 cups of yellow cornmeal into a good-sized mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the top with salt.
Pour boiling water over the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it resembles soft mush.
Drop by tablespoons into hot oil. Fry until brown and crispy. Turn over and cook the other side until brown and crispy.
Drain on paper towels and serve with molasses or honey.
Embarking on the idea for this novel meant entering territory I had never been before or ever thought to enter. A Protestant, I knew nothing about the Catholic Order of the Jesuits. An armchair reader in the room my husband and I share while he watches football games on Sunday afternoons, all I knew about the sport was that the teams wear differently colored uniforms. Yet somehow I felt the urge to write about a priest and a quarterback and a girl who serves up hamburgers, and so my journey into the unknown began. I will be forever grateful to those who shed light on my way and left me with an understanding of and respect for worlds I would never have known. Without their input, I could not have accomplished my tale. Any errors in details and information rest at my feet alone. I am in debt to the following:
Michael S. Bourg, executive director for advancement, Jesuits of the New Orleans Province. Mike, our time with you in New Orleans and later in San Antonio at Our Lady of Guadalupe and points beyond… magical.
Father Martin (Marty) Elsner, SJ, who long ago and far away counseled the difference between a Hollywood ending and the real deal.
Reverend Richard A. Houlahan, OMI, Chaplaincy Services Administrator of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (U.S. Department of Justice), retired. Father Richard, this is what you get for being charming.
Paul Jette, Jr., defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the Miami Hurricanes, 1985. Paul told me when I expressed my gratitude, “I didn’t do anything but answer the right questions you researched,” to which I thought, Bull. In your explanations, you suited me up and sent me out to the field.
Christopher Palmer, offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, quarterbacks coach to the likes of Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, and Mark Brunell, and wearer of a Super Bowl ring earned as quarterbacks coach for the New York Giants in 2007. Chris, there are no words to express my gratitude (or room to list all of your accomplishments).
Along the way, too, there were those whose simple professional courtesy and assistance meant so much to the novel. Thank you, Mary Jo Sarkis and Regina M. Morales. And, in step with me always, my husband, Arthur Richard III, in whom I have two kings, and Janice Thomson, my friend for all seasons.
And, of course, as always, my enduring appreciation for the cast of three whose roles in my writing life make me feel God has kissed me between the eyes. They are, incomparably, my treasured agent, David McCormick; my intrepid editor, Deb Futter, editor-in-chief of Grand Central Publishing; and her lovely assistant, Dianne Choie.
And, finally, I am grateful to my late brother for the recollection I have of his high school quarterback year. From time to time, it cast a glimmer of light upon the trail. Semper Fi, Leiland.
ALSO BY LEILA MEACHAM
Front Cover Image
Part One: 1979–1986
Part Two: 1986–1999
Part Three: 2008
Also by Leila Meacham
Emma’s Hot-Water Corn Bread
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 by Leila Meacham
All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher is unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
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Leila Meacham, Tumbleweeds
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