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Bryson City Secrets
Even More Tales of a Small-Town Doctor in the Smoky Mountains
By Walt Larimore
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
I had just arrived home after a particularly difficult Friday at
work where nothing seemed to go right. I was looking forward to
a quiet evening with Barb, my soul mate and spouse of twenty-nine
years, and I didn't like to bring home any negative emotional
baggage to the woman I had known since our kindergarten days
and had married when we were both twenty-one.
I had learned over the years of my career as a family physician
to "dump" while traveling home from the office or hospital
each evening any anger, frustration, and irritation that had collected
during the day. I always wanted to arrive home with a good
attitude when I began an evening with my family - which at this
point in our family life meant Barb. We had been in the empty
nest for two years and were enjoying every moment.
While working together to prepare the evening meal, we
talked about the day. Even though I had left behind the day's
frustration, I knew it was important to Barb that I share what
had happened - and I enjoyed hearing about her day. These
times together gave us the opportunity to debrief. It was a habit
we developed when she put me through medical school in New
Orleans more than twenty-five years before.
While we weredoing the dishes that night, the phone rang.
Barb pushed on the speakerphone with a soapy finger. "Hello,"
she cheerfully greeted the caller.
"Mom?" I heard the voice of our twenty-four-year-old daughter,
"Hi, honey." I could hear the smile in Barb's voice. Her winsome
and positive attitude usually won her instant friendship with
Kate's voice, however, was somber and heavy. It didn't have
the light and merry cadence she had inherited from her mother and
usually displayed. "Mom, I need to tell both you and Dad something
before I lose my courage, so can you get Dad on the line?"
Barb's voice became serious and concerned. "Are you OK,
I was immediately on the alert. Kate was an intern at the
White House in Washington, D.C. The semester before graduating
from Samford University in 2002 with a bachelor of arts
degree in English, she had been selected to serve in the speechwriting
office for the president of the United States. For a young
woman with cerebral palsy - one who was never supposed to
walk or talk - she did both very well.
Because she lived in Washington, D.C., we were concerned
about her safety and were always delighted to hear from her. But
when I heard Kate's voice and my wife's concerned question, I
turned to face the phone.
"I'm fine physically. Just get Dad on the line!" I immediately
looked at Barb with alarm. Kate's voice sounded so desperate - it
had an almost snappish quality. My eyes met Barb's, and I walked
over to her. I spoke toward the phone so Kate could hear me. "Hi,
honey. I'm here. Mom's got you on speakerphone. What's up?"
There was a very pregnant pause - which indicated to me
that Kate was upset about something. As I waited, I could hear
her sniffle. Then she answered softly. "Three weeks ago, I had a
horrible thought ..."
Barb and I slowly sat down at the table in our breakfast
nook, with its marvelous view of the Colorado Front Range and
of Pike's Peak softening in the cool evening's twilight. As I dried
my hands, I said, "Tell me about it, precious."
Kate paused again. "... about Mickey Thompson."
I felt my heart skip a beat. I always tried to keep Mickey as
far from my mind as possible - for just about every time I did
think of him, I was overcome with emotion.
Almost uncontrollably, my memories rushed back in time,
to eighteen years earlier when we still lived in Bryson City. How
could something so far in our past still cause so much pain? I
wondered, as I felt my heart pounding in my chest.
I took a deep breath. "Tell us about it, Katel." Katel was one
of my nicknames for Kate. It came from seeing "Kate L." on a
label on her backpack the first day she went to school.
I reached out and took Barb's hand.
As Kate continued, I could feel a cold clammy sadness penetrating
into the deep recesses of my soul. Barb squeezed my hand
as her eyes filled with tears.
Kate burst into fresh tears. "Daddy, tell me it's just a bad dream.
Tell me it didn't happen," she pleaded. "Can you have nightmares
during the day?" Kate implored.
My mind went blank. My hands were trembling.
Yes, I thought to myself, you can have a nightmare during
And another one had just begun for the Larimores.
Excerpted from Bryson City Secrets
by Walt Larimore
Copyright © 2006 by Walt Larimore.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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