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The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree

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Published by Sandy Sessler

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Published by: Sandy Sessler on Jun 11, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/28/2013

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Sessler/ THE GIVING TREE-1
CHAPTER 1 -- COMING HOMEAllison McFarland shuttered, as she splashed the icy cold water on her face. Got towake up, she mumbled to herself. It’s going to be a long day…and it’s already been a
very
long night.Her mother, Mary McFarland, drifted in and out of a restless, painful sleep until the pain medication finally kicked in around 4 in the morning. By then, it was pointless for Allison to try and get back to sleep. She had to be up at 6 anyway and the two hourswould only serve to make her feel worse.Allison turned on the shower and lingered, as the hot water soothed the achingmuscles in her neck that screamed for sleep. Her body longed to luxuriate in a hot,steamy, bubble bath, but she knew that was a pipe dream. Perhaps she could persuadeJenny to come spend the night and spell her in the next few days. Not likely, she thought,glumly. And after all, there didn’t seem to be much time left anyway.The cancer that mercilessly ate away at Mary McFarland’s body had reached theterminal stage many months ago, when Allison decided to temporarily give up her job inthe city and come home to be with her mother. They had always been close and Allisonwas not about to let
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Sessler/ THE GIVING TREE
her mother die in a cold, sterile hospital room. Her sister, Jenny already had her hands
over 
full, what with John and the twins. Much as she loved her mother, Jenny just didn’thave the time or extra energy required to care for their dying mother. Truth be told,Allison felt a small amount of jealousy for the frenetic pace of Jenny’s life that wasseparated from the smell of death that surrounded her mother. Not that being besieged bya husband and two active three year olds was
anything 
that Allison ever envied before.She knew that she just wasn’t the maternal type. Allison’s idea of success, for herself thatis, lay in the city, sitting at a high-powered meeting with an assistant running to do her  bidding. Up until now, however,
 she
was the one doing the running and it was her bossdoing the bidding. Well, there would be plenty of time to get back to it…after; after it wasover at home.For now, Allison would be here to help ease her mother to as comfortable a death as possible. Every day, the hospice nurse would come and bathe Mary, give her a back ruband evaluate her pain and the medications that seemed to be losing their effectiveness.Allison was told that the next step would be a morphine pump. She knew that once thathappened, her mother would be drifting in and out of consciousness, until she slipped intothe final coma. There was so little time left and as weary as she was, Allison was notready to let her mother go yet.And then there was Angela, God bless her. Sweet Angela Federico from next door wouldstay with her mother on the days Allison went to work as the fill-in, part-timeadministrative assistant to Pastor Henry at Maplewood’s Grace Christian Church. It
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Sessler/ THE GIVING TREE
sounded like an impressive title, particularly if you were given to being impressed bytitles, but basically it was just a glorified secretary. She started working for Pastor Henry, as more of a favor thatanything. Betty Cooper had been church secreta…administrative assistant for 35 years.She was known as the church’s right hand woman. Without her, Pastor Henry, as well asthose who went before him, would never have survived. With swift and merciless precision, Betty ran the office, as well as Pastor Henry. When she abruptly gave her notice to move to Florida to care for an ailing sister, Pastor Henry was left reeling. Whoon earth would take her place? Who on earth
could 
take her place? Who on earth would
want 
to? Allison laughed to herself and ran a hand through her hair as she realized thatGod truly must have a sense of humor.As she slipped on the tailored navy blue dress that fit in perfectly in the city, butseemed just a bit too formal for Maplewood, she could feel the beginnings of a dullheadache forming at the back of head. Reaching in the medicine cabinet for an aspirin,she heard her mother.“Coming, Mom,” she called out as she swallowed the pill with a handful of water from the sink.Her mother was attempting to pull herself up in bed. Her thin, bony fingers werewrapped weakly around the cold metal rail of the hospital bed that the hospice nursearranged for, several days before.“Let me help you, Mom,” Allison said gently, as she slid her arm behind her mother’s back. She cringed as she felt her shoulder blades through the thick flannel nightgown thatwas damp with sweat. After propping her mother up with pillows, she went to get a
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