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Book online «Promises to Keep Nan Rossiter (books for 7th graders .txt) 📖». Author Nan Rossiter



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Dedication

For Bruce

Epigraph

At least there is hope for a tree:

If it is cut down, it will sprout again,

and its new shoots will not fail.

JOB 14:7 (NIV)

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

Epigraph

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

With Heartfelt Gratitude . . .

P.S. Insights, Interviews & More . . .*

About the Book

About the Author

Read On

Praise

Also by Nan Rossiter

Copyright

About the Publisher

1

BALANCING A TRAY OF LEMONADE AND WARM SUGAR COOKIES, MAEVE Lindstrom stepped onto the wide front porch of the old farmhouse that had, in its heyday, been home to one of Savannah’s most prominent families. But when the last Atherton—a daughter of whispered ancestry—suffered an untimely death under questionable circumstances, the house, which was already in a steady decline, accelerated that decline into utter disrepair. It was years before the abandoned property was purchased by a wealthy anonymous buyer, but it continued to sit empty, and except for the sounds of squabbling raccoons running down the halls, and bullfrogs plucking on loose banjo strings, eerily silent. Finally, after several more years of neglect, a young company that specialized in designing alternative living spaces for seniors saw its potential, bought it at auction, and began the lengthy process of restoration and repurposing. Ben Samuelson and his crew, when they worked on it, jokingly called it “A Place for Dad,” but when the beautifully carved wooden sign was installed, its official name became known: WILLOW POND SENIOR CARE; and the advertising campaign that followed caught everyone’s attention. The hip, young marketing team—a group of tech-savvy millennials—knew just how to target their audience. After all, they’d been promoting state-of-the-art facilities up and down the East Coast for several years by then, and with the baby boomer generation only getting older, homes for seniors were becoming a booming market. They used words like private, bright, airy, family setting, plow-to-plate dining, on-site cafés, individualized professional care, and free Wi-Fi, and with high-resolution JPEGs to match, their campaigns resulted in long waiting lists, even before online applications were available.

“Here you go, ladies and gents,” Maeve announced, as she navigated the long line of walkers and canes. Willow Pond was one of the few facilities the group opened that didn’t have an on-site café, but it did have Maeve, who, with her friendly smile, sprinkle of cinnamon freckles, and copper-red hair, was a ray of sunshine and a blessing to everyone who met her. It also had Tallulah, an affectionate orange tiger cat who swished between chair legs, stretched out in sunny spots, and when she seemed to sense a lonely soul, curled up on the owner’s lap. Willow Pond had the slow, easy, low-country charm to which its residents were accustomed . . . and it had fresh-baked cookies every afternoon.

Ninety-three-year-old Adeline Hart, who preferred to be called “Addie,” was not a baby boomer but a proud member of the Greatest Generation—and parent of the two baby boomers who’d convinced her she’d be happy at Willow Pond. Addie looked up with a start, and then tried to hide the fact that she’d dozed off. “Well, bless your heart. We thought you got lost, dear,” she said in her soft Southern drawl.

Maeve held out her tray. “I didn’t get lost, Miss Addie.”

Gladys Warren, who was sitting next to her, cupped her gnarled hand behind her ear. “Who’s lost?” she asked, frowning.

Maeve looked over. “Where’re your hearing aids, Gladys?”

“I don’t know where the maid is. She probably ran off with that handsome beau of hers. Have you seen that boy?” she added with raised eyebrows. “He is a catch!”

Maeve bit her lip, trying not to laugh. “Gladys,” she said, more loudly this time, “I didn’t ask where the maid is. I asked where your hearing aids are.”

Gladys touched her ears and then scrunched her face into a scowl. “I don’t know where the damn things are. Somebody musta taken ’em . . . again!”

Maeve didn’t argue—she knew it was late in the day. The setting sun was making the old willow tree near the pond cast a long wispy shadow across the lawn, and it was making long confusing shadows cross the minds of some of the seniors. Maeve affectionately referred to her charges as “the Sundowners’ Club,” and lately, it seemed as if only Addie, Aristides, and the Olivetti twins didn’t suffer the memory-stealing effects of the setting sun.

Addie reached for a cookie. “How come you’re bringing our snack today, child?”

Maeve smiled, appreciating Addie’s moniker for her—it made her feel younger than her thirty-five years, and it softened the blow of her self-imposed status as old maid. “Pam had to leave early. Her kids are in a play.”

“Oooh, I loved being in school plays,” Addie mused, her mind taking a turn down memory lane. “Did I ever tell you that’s how I met my Theodore?”

“I don’t think so,” Maeve lied. She loved when the residents regaled her with their favorite old stories, even if she’d heard them before. It made them happy and it made her smile, and besides, she’d recently read an article touting the mental health benefits of sharing one’s past.

“Well,” Addie said, giddy to have fresh ears to which she could relay one of her fondest memories. “I was assigned the song ‘I’m Wishing’—you know that sweet melody from Snow White?”

She started to sing in case someone on the porch was unfamiliar with the famous Walt Disney song, but Gladys interrupted her. “Yes, yes, we know.”

Addie nodded and continued, “Well, my Theo—who was two grades above me—was assigned the prince’s part, ‘One Song.’ You know that one?” Again, she started to sing but, worried that she wasn’t doing the melody justice, stopped. “Oh, what a lovely tenor voice he had . . . and such a gentle timbre. It was no wonder I fell in lo—”

“I can drink a

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