"Jim, you have a little girl." he reported. Then a pause, and his tone changed. "Jim, Anna didn't make it. We did all we could. I am so sorry. She just had too much stress on her frail body the past few months and we couldn't stop the bleeding fast enough."
Already well acquainted with heartache and sorrow, James DeMonte wonders if he can go on after the death of his beloved wife. Completely devoted to his infant daughter, he feels he must give up his navy career so they will not be separated, and his future becomes uncertain.
Life takes an unexpected turn when he finds himself the recipient of Anna's legacy, a legacy he had not known existed.
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By Lorene Wayne Smith
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Lorene Wayne Smith
All rights reserved.
* * *
James Alan Demonte was the only son of Marcel and Joyce Demonte. Jim's two sisters, Margaret and Janet, were several years his senior, and had provided him with much sisterly nurturing and love. Jim's father, Marcel, was a naval officer with many years invested in the service of his country. Marcel had begun his naval career as an ensign, and was subsequently promoted and commissioned as an officer owing to acts of valor on the battlefield.
Although he portrayed a rather firm countenance, Marcel always dealt gently in matters concerning his family. Jim's growing up years were spent in a structured environment with both parents united in their efforts concerning their family's well-being.
Jim's mother, Joyce, was a determined, sensitive woman, with a gracious and generous heart. Her home was always warm and inviting and there was never a problem with "setting an extra plate". Jim loved and honored both parents; however, his mother was his most trusted confidant.
When Jim was 16, his mother died suddenly leaving a sorely grieving mate and creating a void in Jim's life that would remain indefinitely. At age 18, Jim followed in his father's footsteps and joined the navy as an ensign. One short year later, still grieving the loss of his life partner, Jim's father had died. Margaret and Janet became Jim's living link to the world he had known and loved so dearly and he spent as much time with his sisters as reasonably possible; as much as the navy would allow.
Jim was stationed at the Naval Base near Bremerton, Washington. Both Janet and Margaret resided in Boise, Idaho, scarcely more than an hour by air from Bremerton. Jim loved the flights into Boise. Looking down on the city, one could easily determine why it was named "The City of Trees". Jim especially enjoyed the rolling hills backed by the rugged high country surrounding the area, and the incredible sunsets with the pink afterglow stretching across the heavens were, in Jim's words, "awesome."
On Wednesday, Jim received a phone call from Janet informing him that she and Margaret were planning to accompany their husbands on a trip to San Felipe, Baja, to visit an old friend who had recently acquired a hotel there and was in the process of refurbing the entire structure.
Janet and Margaret had married brothers who were co-owners and partners in a well established residential design and building firm. The pair had been invited in a professional capacity to inspect the premises in Baja, and offer their seasoned opinion regarding design, etc. Both girls had decided to tag along and enjoy the sun while their husbands were busy assessing the property. As always, Janet expressed her love for her younger sibling, and offered a sincere apology regarding their absence.
Since Jim had the week-end free, and had planned to spend a few enjoyable days in Boise, he was mildly disappointed.
None the less, he was excited for them all and expressed his enthusiasm concerning what the trip to Baja could mean for the brothers professionally.
With time on his hands and no plans in the making, Jim had hesitantly accepted an invitation from Jake, a navy buddy, to accompany Jake for a visit with his aunt and cousin in Santa Rosa. Jake had convinced Jim that his aunt Kristine was the greatest and that she would not be in the least put out by having an extra person in her home.
So the two young men had arrived in Santa Rosa early on Friday Morning and spent most of the day engaged in touring the countryside and visiting local points of interest.
On Friday evening they had enjoyed a wonderful, home-cooked meal and afterwards settled down to watch the tube and relax.
Jim had taken an instant liking to Kristine. He did indeed feel comfortable from the first moment of their meeting and he admired her warm and gracious hospitality.
At dinner, Kristine announced that she was hosting a local charity on Saturday evening and apologized for leaving her guests unattended. After a short discussion on the subject, both Jake and Jim willingly offered to accompany her and to assist in any way they could. When the telephone rang, Kristine answered the call and presently moved into the kitchen to continue the conversation. Upon returning to the living room, she spoke with Jake informing him that Anna would be home tomorrow after completion of an assignment, and since she would be arriving late, she would meet them at the charity location.
"Hey, that's super." Jake responded, and then turning to Jim he declared, "You're gonna love my cousin, Anna. She's great!!
"She is great, isn't she?" smiled Kristine, "Sometime she even amazes me."
During the remainder of the evening, Kristine spent a considerable amount of time talking on the phone, winding up the details concerning the event. Jake and Jim spent the evening chatting, flipping through the channels and just relaxing. Surprisingly, Jim felt totally at ease and comfortable in this home to which he had been so graciously welcomed.
"I want to thank you for inviting me to come along,
"Jake." Jim spoke softly. "I want to thank you for inviting me to come along. And I have to admit, I was a little reluctant about coming but somehow, it seems good to be here." Then, turning to face his buddy, he inquired. "I hope you don't mind my asking, or think that I'm being a bit too personal, but what is the deal here? Is Kristine divorced or widowed or what?"
"Actually, neither." replied Jake. "Aunt Kristine is a single parent; she raised Anna on her own. According to mom, during Kristine's last two years in high school, she dated a fellow student pretty consistently and they had become good friends. Later on, after graduation, they came to the realization they were more than friends; they loved each other."
"By then the Vietnam War was in full swing and he felt a duty to serve, so he enlisted in the air force. He was trained as a helicopter rescue pilot and just before he was sent overseas, he went home on leave. I guess the little time they had together and the thought of maybe not seeing each other ever again was pretty emotional for them both. Anyway, when Aunt Kristine found out she was pregnant, they made arrangements to be married as soon as he returned to the states. But he didn't return. His helicopter was shot down over enemy territory and he became a war casualty. So Aunt Kristine faced raising a child alone. From what I'm told, she never had an interest in anyone after that. Instead she pursued a career in interior design and became a very successful business woman."
"Aunt Kristine's mother, Hattie, was my Grand-dad's second wife and Kristine was their only child. Hattie was extremely wealthy when she married Grand-dad, and when Hattie died, she left Kristine her entire estate. Aunt Kristine would never have had to worry about an income at all, but it was her choice to pursue a career. She and Anna have always maintained a simple lifestyle and a uniqueness all their own.
There is a very special bond between the two of them. Anna is an interpreter for the deaf, and much like her mom, she has a caring heart." Jake paused and jokingly added, "She's pretty blamed cute too. Of course, being my cousin, how could it be otherwise?"
Jim nodded and smiled in agreement, "Right."
Saturday was spent doing odds and ends for Kristine and helping to pick up and deliver craft items that had been donated for the bazaar. While they were loading the food for the buffet, Kristine paused, and turned to face her two efficient helpers,
"I want to thank you both for all your help today.
You've made a busy task a delightful one. The proceeds of this event are assigned to the half-way house for troubled teens, so it is important that this be a success." Then glancing at her watch, she exclaimed, "And I am due there right about NOW, so I must hurry off. You two just come on down anytime you feel up to it."
Later, when Jake and Jim arrived at the location, several people were already milling about and making purchases. Kristine was busily engaged in helping one of the volunteers with the sale of an item. Jake and Jim wandered around the display area, pausing now and then to discuss something of interest. Since Margaret and Janet both loved unique items, Jim had purchased a couple of things he thought they would appreciate.
A few minutes into the evening, a slender young woman with long brown hair entered the room and headed toward them.
Jake exclaimed, "Hey, there she is; there's Anna."
As she approached, the young woman smiled at Jake and waved a greeting, then extended a small hand toward Jim.
"Hi, I'm Anna, and you must be Jim. Mama told me about your being here with Jake. Welcome to Santa Rosa!!"
Jim took the small hand and gazed into two of the greyest eyes he had ever seen.
"Pleased to meet you Anna," Jim replied. "Santa Rosa is beautiful, and your mother has made me feel right at home."
"Mama's the best." smiled Anna. "She is most likely the kindest, most loving and generous person you will ever meet. Of course I'm a bit prejudice when it comes to mama."
"That's an understatement." chided Jake.
There was something about this slender girl that caused Jim to ponder. She was almost frail in appearance and although her mannerisms were totally feminine, Jim reckoned she could be as rugged as anyone, if that was her fancy.
With the combined efforts of all involved, the bazaar was a huge success. It was long past midnight when the lights were turned out and the doors locked securely. A very tired foursome made their way back to Kristine and Anna's abode.
When Jim awoke on Sunday morning, the house was quiet. Jake was nowhere about. Jim showered, shaved and dressed, then made his way down to the kitchen. Anna was standing near the sliding patio door when he entered the room. Jim stood watching her momentarily, then spoke words of greeting.
Turning to greet him, Anna responded, "Good morning to you. Did you rest well?"
"You bet. I slept like a log. How about you?" Jim questioned.
"I am not really very good at this sleep stuff." she smiled. "Often times I think too much and then I find myself wide awake and sleep has gone by me."
"I don't have that problem ... thinking I mean." Jim replied jokingly.
"Then you are one of the lucky ones. How about some breakfast?" Anna invited.
"Breakfast sounds great, but only if you allow me to do the honors. Being a cook in the navy has served to make me fairly good at it and I do enjoy playing chef."
"Be my guest." smiled Anna. "Mama and Jake are out and about somewhere. No doubt they are up to something. When those two get together, life gets interesting!"
Jim & Anna shared a hearty breakfast and chatted as though they were a couple of old friends getting together after a long absence. Later, Anna invited Jim to take a walk along the ridge, and he eagerly consented. The sky was the bluest of blue and the sun was warm on their backs as they walked along the ridge and talked about anything that came to mind.
During the return trip, Anna slipped her small hand into Jim's hand and they continued their walk, hand in hand. By the time they reached the house, they felt as though they had always known each other.
Jake and Kristine were on the patio working with the outdoor grill. As Jim and Anna approached, Kristine looked up and smiled, "And where have you two wanderers been? I know, I know. You didn't want to be recruited into a work project."
They all laughed and chatted as Jake began preparing the steaks for the grill.
After enjoying a great barbeque, some easy conversation and leisurely dozing in the patio chairs, it was soon time for the two navy men to collect their gear and head for the airport. It was at the least an hour drive into San Francisco, and they also had a vehicle rental to return.
As Jim and Jake gathered their belongings in preparation for their departure, Anna poked her head into the guest room and smiled warmly at Jim.
"I hope this won't be your last visit to Santa Rosa."
Jim squeezed her hand playfully and responded, "You can bet on it."
After expressing words of gratitude for the warm hospitality, hugs were shared, goodbyes were said, and the two buddies were on their way back to base.CHAPTER 2
A Broken Heart
* * *
From that first meeting with Anna, Jim knew his life would never be complete without this frail young woman, and Anna knew her heart was safe with Jim.
Kristine often remarked, "It was love at first sight for those two; they were meant for each other."
Six months later they were married. Although she missed her daughter terribly, and the miles separating them were often distressing to her, Kristine delighted in Anna's happiness. And there were regular visits back and forth between Santa Rosa and Bremerton, visits most often made by Kristine.
Seven months into the marriage, Jim came home to find Anna lying across the bed, which was a bit out of the ordinary for Anna; she was always on the move.
"Hey, what's goin' on here, Lady Bug?" he inquired.
"Nothing really ... I just felt a little tired." Then with a sigh in her voice, she whispered impishly, "Perhaps it's because I am pregnant."
"Are you serious?" Jim asked excitedly, as he slid down beside her. "You mean it? Are You sure? When did you find out?"
"The doctor called just a few minutes ago to confirm it.
Also, he told me that I would undoubtedly have to take it easy because of the "tilt" or something to that effect."
"What does that mean exactly?" questioned Jim.
"I don't really know, but he asked me to come in on Friday and he would go over a few of the "do's and don'ts" with me, and he asked that you come with me. I guess it is something we both need to be aware of."
On Friday, Anna was feeling a mite unsettled as they drove to the doctor's appointment. The doctor explained to them that Anna had a serious tipping of the uterus and that the pregnancy might be a little touchy. He warned her against any heavy lifting or any strenuous activities.
The warning was taken seriously and diligently heeded: however, at two and a half months, Anna miscarried. Jim and Anna were both saddened, but vowed they would try again when Anna had been given some time to "recupe".
Over the coming months the disappointing scenario was twice repeated. After the second miscarriage, Jim became deeply concerned. Anna's health was suffering from the continual stress and the demands being made on her physically. Although she had been very determined to have a successful pregnancy, after the third miscarriage, Jim and Anna jointly concluded they should cease their efforts to become parents, and perhaps should even consider adoption.
Just when the decision had been made in that direction, Anna became pregnant and passed the third month successfully.
The doctor was genuinely concerned and Kristine and Jim were apprehensive; however, Anna insisted that she be given one final effort toward motherhood.
At the beginning of the fourth month, she suffered severe cramps in her abdomen with some spotting, and the doctor ordered her to complete bed rest for the balance of her pregnancy. Although it was difficult for someone so active to be bedridden, Anna agreed willingly.
"Anything to get this baby into the world." Anna had confided to Kristine. Kristine openly voiced her disapproval of taking any more risks with her health.
Filled with anxiety about the pregnancy, Kristine had decided to come and be with her daughter during this difficult time; however, Anna firmly protested.
"Mama, I just won't allow it. You have too much at stake to put everything on hold. Jim and I will work something out."
After much discussion on the subject, Jim and Kristine agreed to find someone to be with Anna.
"Jim, I will take care of the costs involved here." offered Kristine. "That's the least I can do to help out. I would much rather be here myself, but Anna won't hear of it."
Jim and Anna had spoken to several candidates referred to them by the local agency and by friends. After careful consideration of Anna's needs, and in accordance with her wishes, Jim hired a young Peruvian woman to live in and assist with the task of keeping Anna off her feet and to manage the household duties that Anna was unable to do. The sisters of St. Francis had recommended Lena, and Anna was immediately drawn to her. Lena had a two year old son, Miguel, and both Jim and Kristine felt that having a child in the house would be positive therapy for Anna.
Since Lena was alone in America, and without family, Anna and Jim offered a gratifying source of stability to both Lena and her young son. Kristine had also felt an "attachment" to the young woman and deeply appreciated Lena's willing and caring assistance in keeping Anna content.
Excerpted from Anna's Legacy by Lorene Wayne Smith. Copyright © 2015 Lorene Wayne Smith. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Meeting, 1,
Chapter Two: A Broken Heart, 7,
Chapter Three: Joey, 12,
Chapter Four: The Visit, 16,
Chapter Five: An Unexpected Blessing, 23,
Chapter Six: A New Beginning, 34,
Chapter Seven: A Change of Residence, 38,
Chapter Eight: Building a Dream, 42,
Chapter Nine: Grand Opening, 49,
Chapter Ten: A Moment in Time, 57,
Chapter Eleven: A Sad Departure, 64,
Chapter Twelve: College Days, 67,
Chapter Thirteen: A New Adventure, 72,
Chapter Fourteen: The Accident, 79,
Chapter Fifteen: The Healing Process, 87,
Chapter Sixteen: A Teacher For Alex, 91,
Chapter Seventeen: The Letter, 96,
Chapter Eighteen: The Wedding, 103,
Chapter Nineteen: Tending Baby Anna, 107,
About the Author, 111,