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   Chapter 58 No.58

My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 12852

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:27


MARTHA WAS BACK TO BEING her old self with her memory fully restored a few weeks later. They replaced the bandage on her head with a smaller one and we got our first look at her face through a plastic shield she would wear for another six weeks.

After they removed the tubes from her head, the primary area of concern shifted to her one remaining kidney which was growing worse by the day.

Winston continued to stop by for progress reports and was allowed to see her after the third week. He cried like a child and I wondered if seeing her like that brought back painful memories of his own recovery.

I was proud of Mother for not only shopping for him and spending time with him all those years, but for bringing him into the family and giving him the opportunity to love and be loved. People are just not people at all until they have someone to love and be loved by. Without love, people are more like animals taking care of their basic needs and living in seclusion. Believe me, I was a perfect example.

Winston and Mom began spending more time together and he often ate meals with us. But he and Mom weren't the only ones falling in love.

Sydney and I were now inseparable, when we weren't working. The photography studio had begun to recover. Most of the agents had come back and the publicity had brought in lots of new customers. Students from Sydney's dance studio went to national competitions and came back with arm-loads of trophies including a few first overall awards and a couple of national championships.

The casts on Martha's arms came off first, then the one on her right foot. After five weeks, she was allowed to go home.

"I want to show y'all something, " she said as she steered her new electric wheelchair into her bedroom.

"What?" Mom asked pulling the bed covers back.

"Watch." Her left leg was still in a cast to the hip. She moved the footrests aside, took hold of the edge of the bed, and pulled herself up on her feet. We all applauded and praised her. Mom, Winston, and me.

"Now watch, " she said looking down at her feet. We hushed and waited. After a brief pause, she shocked us all by moving the toes on both her feet.

DURING THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS, authorities recovered the money McGillikin had transferred offshore. It was divided by the courts among the thirty-seven clients whose funds he had stolen along with the insurance money from the beach house. Sydney received about 80% of what she figured Scott had taken from her savings.

In a statement to police, David Matthews described how Ashleigh, after taking a few courses in nursing, had drawn her own blood and stored it in her freezer until the night of the robbery hoping that by pouring it all over her house, everyone would assume she was dead and that Bonner would not go looking for her. He said that she'd picked Richard because he was right next door and always alone, that she learned about the beach house by following Scott, then only took what she figured he owed them from the insurance settlement. As the only heir to the Jackson's estate, David took over his uncle's turkey farm at Lake Waccamaw and shortly afterward began dating a girl that lived up the road.

The check Scott had written to pay for the sailboat had bounced and the title had never been transferred. Tiffany sent her father a post card from Greece and told him she was having a great time, that the boat was performing beautifully, and that she'd try to get home by Christmas—the following year.

By the end of summer, Martha's recovery seemed to come to a halt as she became overwhelmed with fatigue, fluid retention, frequent headaches, and shortness of breath. She began dialysis every few days and was placed on a transplant list. We packed a bag for her and waited by the phone for word that a match had been found. Mom and I had bot

the back yard under a shade tree."

The rain, which had paused briefly, began pounding the window glass again as if the house was being washed by a fire hose.

"Where did you go when you left?"

"We didn't go anywhere. Not together. Gus went back to his mother's house and I stayed home. We hardly saw each other until Richie was born and then we didn't move in together until Gus got a job selling cars and rented a house for us."

"Then four years later I came along, " Martha said. "Which explains why Richie wasn't all that good of a match for the kidney transplant. We're only half brother and sister. But what I want to know is, how in the world could you have turned out to be the perfect donor for me, Winston? What are the chances of that happening? My mother's boyfriend being a better donor than my mother or my brother—even if he is my half-brother? Are we related in some way?"

Winston looked to Mom for help. "What do you think, Pearl?"

A clap of thunder rattled the windows and as it faded into the distance, Mom massaged her temples with both hands. "There is a logical explanation, but you three have to promise me that you will never tell a soul." She looked at each of us as she awaited our responses.

Martha looked at me, then back at Mom. "Okay! Of course. Tell us."

"I want to hear each of you promise. Sydney?"

Sydney slouched a bit lower in her seat. "Yes. Sure. I promise."

"Richie?"

"Yes. I promise."

"Martha?"

"Mother! For heaven's sake, I promise. Now tell us!"

Mom took Winston's hand and flashed him a smile before turning back to face us. "A few years after Richie was born, I got a call from the church secretary. She told me that one of church's mission cases happened to be the farmer that had been driving the truck that hit Charlie's car. She said he'd suffered burns over seventy percent of his body and said that he'd asked for me by name. That he wanted to know if I'd pay him a visit. I had no idea why he'd asked for me, but I thought maybe he wanted to say he was sorry for what had happened. So I went.

"I drove up to the farm where he lived and…when he opened the door…" Mom's voice cracked and a tear rolled over her cheekbone. "…I couldn't believe my eyes."

"What?" Martha uttered.

Mom turned to Winston, who nodded and flashed a reassuring smile.

Martha slapped her hands on the table. "Come on, Mama. Tell us!"

Mom cleared her throat. "When he opened the door, I knew instantly who he was. Even with the bandages and scars, I could tell he was Charlie Baimbridge."

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