This month I’ll be pulling from the short story “A Place to Die,” which you can get for free if you sign up for my mailing list.
When Libby spends a summer helping out at her mom’s bed and breakfast-turned-hospice, she doesn’t expect to spend her time babysitting someone like Mr. Calloway – a young, vibrant financial planner with a mischievous streak. But Mr. Calloway is sicker than he seems, something neither he nor his family want to acknowledge. Can Libby help him accept his fate without losing her heart?
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After Dad died of cancer, Mom couldn’t bear to sell the farm; it had been her home for thirty years, filled with memories of family and Dad’s last days, so she rebranded it as “The Lake Estate.”
The farm – excuse me, the estate – butted up against Lake Michigan. Old cowpaths wound around small copses and through an apple orchard, leading to a trail down to a pebble beach at the lake itself. I guess if you were from a big city and not used to it, you could consider it pretty nice.
Mom was certainly betting on it. She put in a bunch of benches, flowery bushes, and gazebos strategically placed for the best views of the lake, then used Dad’s insurance money to renovate our 150-year-old farmhouse into a bed-and-breakfast, she hired old retired farmers to run hayrack rides at dusk, and she considered putting in a playground for kids, but then a funny thing happened – our clientele shifted.
When we first opened, most of our guests were middle-aged couples coming up from Milwaukee – maybe they couldn’t afford a weekend in Door County, or couldn’t stand to be that far from their kids. Either way, they slowly flooded the farm for the first couple years, only to be replaced with men and women with oxygen tanks, slow steps, and shallow breaths. Mom adapted to this too, just like she’d adapted to Dad’s death, and hired on several nurses and a social worker; we become The Lake Estate Hospice.
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