Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam (Ch. 9 – Conclusion)

Those who would have the power to know the future must forfeit the power to change it.
Author unknown

Chapter 8 actually concluded the saga of Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam. If you so wish, you have all the information necessary to construct futures for all the characters in this novella. At this moment, you have the power to change the future!!! If this is your choice, don’t read on because if you do, then I tell you the future, and you no longer have the power to change it.

And so for those who still want to be spoon fed, or want to compare their endings with mine, here is a look in these characters 20 years hence, when the adults are in their 70s and Miriam just about 45.

Abigail and Albert have both retired and are living in Cheltenham, Ontario. We could drop in at their tiny tea house, ‘T/4/2,” (that’s what the sign reads) which they bought ten years or so ago. It serves specialty teas (and coffees) and the best home-made scones this side of Scotland. (Abigail makes the scones. They buy the tea and coffee.)
The T/4/2 house has become a kind of community gathering place for morning coffee and afternoon tea. In practice, such times are more for communication than cake, more for gossip than grub. In fact if an event has not been proclaimed (sotto voce) in T/4/2, then it probably hasn’t happened yet.
The tea house is managed mainly by Abagail, though Albert frequently attends to keep the rumour mill in tune and turning out its product. They both recognize that without fresh gossip the enterprise would fail. On occasion it has been necessary to actually create a story before it has happened, but they are very careful not to involve any of their customers, at least by name.
Albert is also very interested in Current Affairs and runs a bi-weekly meeting on Wednesday evenings to discuss such subjects as Nuclear Disarmament, or the drains on Creditview Road. Though discussions are frank and sometimes even frantic, good friendships are cemented in the process. For these events, Albert has arranged with the LLBO to allow T/4/2 to serve beer.
But when we left this couple 20 years ago, they had just come out of a stormy patch in their relationship and plunged into perhaps a too hasty marriage. Was Abigail swayed into a lifetime relationship by the thought of a one-time cruise to the Arctic? You may want to know how they are relating now.
Well Mr. Trudeau told us that the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, and I not sure we are all going to be welcomed into Abigail’s and Albert’s private life. But we’ll peek just a little.
Albert will always be Albert and so, at 76, still is. He tries to analyze each emotion logically in order to justify it. Hardly the prescription for a great lover. But Abigail is no slouch. She does love Albert still (and she needs no logical explanation.) She looks after him—tells him when his shoes need polishing or his hair needs cutting. She has also learned a few little tricks that turn Albert from being a potential feast for a lion, into a lion himself. So passion for each other is alive and well and living in Cheltenham!
To sum it all up, you can call it a successful marriage of two quite charming and still interesting people. They are not introverted into themselves but enjoy being part of a vibrant if rather unsophisticated rural community. Score them about 7 out of 10.

Now we look in on the younger sister. We drop in on Rebecca at her new home in the small town of Bracebridge, Ontario. Surely this is the last place you’d expect to find a former Toronto socialite! Though she and Jeremy lived on in the familiar Toronto family home, the “big house,” for as long as he was with her, it has since been sold with substantial proceeds to Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam.
The big house, while it was still an item in the family, became a musical mecca with Rebecca on the piano and Jeremy on the mouth organ. They held an open house every second Tuesday evening. As time went on other musician friends were drawn into the project and invitations to the “Jam” as it became to be known, were prized as gold. There was even talk of recording a disk, but that would be work and this was too much fun. As so ran the lives of Rebecca and Jeremy for about ten more years.
During this too short time, Jeremy quite unintentionally demonstrated to Rebecca, that her high social life was really rather shallow. She learned by exposure that the great outdoors (particularly the Muskoka outdoors with its brutal rocks and soft waters) was closer to her spiritual life than a gala ball. Hence her present unpretentious home in Bracebridge, where she lived alone. She was even attending the small local church! The grand piano from the old house has been moved to the living room in Bracebridge and sometimes she plays some of the “old familiar tunes” for the locals. Sitting on top of the piano is a rather battered case and inside of it—a harmonica. No one plays that.
I regret to inform you that Jeremy was killed in a car/bicycle incident about ten years into their marriage. Those ten years together were not without their traumas but they truly had a passion for each other, which weathered through all their differences. So it was a real stomach blow for Rebecca when she was suddenly presented with a dead husband.
She stayed on at the big house for only a short time but soon realized it contained too many spaces with too many painful memories. So she researched her new love, Muskoka, and found a charming little spot on the edge of Bracebridge. You might have expected her to curl up in her grief but she was always a strong and gregarious person and quickly became a fixture in the local community.
The Bracebridge community accepted her not so much as an equal but more as the queen who had come to establish a residence there. The local woman loved to be seen in her company but were careful that their men kept their distance. (Rebecca was not only a queen but she was still a beautiful queen, and therefore a dangerous queen.) Rebecca just laughed at their fears. From her point of view she was no longer interested in men or women but only in people. She Ioved the people of the local community.
Thus she gradually fell into the job of chief local organizer. If it were a street fair, get Rebecca. An anniversary of some historical event—Rebecca. Redecorating the town hall—Rebecca. The new Mayor’s “ordination”—Rebecca. A special welcome to the new minster, priest or rabbi—who else? Not only was she effective, but she had a knack of getting everybody involved and then making sure they were recognized and thanked. She was not only good at it, she loved it—and the town loved her in return—except of course for the husbands who were kept on a short leash in her presence.
If you think of asking Rebecca what she would like to change in her present life, she would look at you with some incredibility. Change? No reason to change when everything was running so smoothly. Was she blindly riding for a fall? Did she have no lurking enemies? Do all good things eventually come to an end? If you questioned Rebecca along this line, she would shrug her shoulders and laugh. “At 75, who cares?”

And Miriam? What has happened to her? When we left her she was out to find herself presumably by travelling to parts untold. Well, some pretty dramatic thing did happen. Her first stop and stay was London. She just couldn’t get enough of London. Every day she walked a different street. She enjoyed lunching at the pubs. She marveled at the ancient architecture. She reveled in the narrow twisting streets. She lapped up conversations in all sorts of strange accents. She spent about two months there.
Next stop Paris. She took the Chunnel. (She described the Chunnel as the biggest non-event of her travels. “It might have been a world class engineering feat, but it’s just a long tube ride for the passenger.”) Paris was a delight to her as it is to almost everyone. She now knows why it is called ‘the city of love.’ If only she had had a lover!
After several months in two of the most civilized capitals of the world she decided to rough it in countries that were just emerging into the 21st century. Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, surprised her. It was a very modern city of over one million with still major influences of old Islam. But the overall impression was modern with an incomprehensible language, or maybe it was languages, thrown in. But she found that English was readily used, a remnant no doubt of the English colonial times.
So she only stayed there one day then hitchhiked along a road leading to Kabul in Afganistan, not realizing the dangerous and bleak mountainous territory she was entering. When she left a ride, she hoisted her back pack and just walked.
It wasn’t hard to get lost so she managed that effortlessly. She was, in fact, kidnapped two young men in a beat up car. They forced her inside. Her captors—opportunistic incompetents—indicted that she would be held until a handsome ransom was paid. When they stopped because of some obstruction on the road, she demanded a little privacy as she needed to pee. Then she darted into the mouth of one of the many caves carved into the mountainside. Her captors were too afraid to follow her into the dark but she, feeling her way carefully, managed to find another exit. Only when she emerged, she had no idea where she was. She wandered aimlessly for some time trying to find the road when she stumbled on a small isolated village. The first house, a little more than a hovel, had a lone goat tethered to a peg near the door. When she called out, a worn but strangely attractive woman came to the door and taking in the situation at a glance, insisted that the stranger enter. There was only one other person in the house. A young girl, perhaps five, who was obviously not well.
Miriam had had quite a bit of quasi nursing experience in Egypt and she knelt beside the girl’s bed and examined her. She detected a high fever but the lungs were clear and the breathing not stressed. She administered aspirin from her first aid kit bathed her patient’s forehead in cold water and indicated that the child should be allowed to sleep.
As it was getting dark, her hostess bedded Miriam down on the earthen floor with an ornate blanket as covering. She slept soundly.
In the morning she was happy to see that the child was somewhat improved. She asked her hostess about the nearest doctor and was appalled to learn that it would take at least a day, carrying the child part of the way over rough and dangerous ground, perhaps only to find that he had gone away to some other patients.
If she was happy that the child improved each day, the mother was ecstatic. Soon the news spread around the tiny village and Miriam became a “doctor” doing house calls!
She stayed with the family learning how hard it was to live in the desert. Food was scarce and meat was even scarcer. At one point she was given a real treat, a goat leg bone to suck out the marrow. She saw how personal washing was a luxury requiring a long climb to the tumultuous river below. The latrine was the open field. Schooling of the two children was the responsibility of the mother, but there were no exercise books or books of any kind. She just taught from memory. Sick children either recovered after some traditional home remedies—or died.
After nearly a year in this outback, Miriam became convinced that on-site medical help was desperately needed and if she didn’t provide it, no one else would. She took a reluctant leave of her hostess to return to Canada where she took a crash course in practical nursing. Many a lesser person would have called it quits, the reward being just not worth the effort, but Miriam returned to Afganistan two years later equipped with more medical knowledge and a wider selection of medicines and treatments. And now five years later she is in charge of a small paramedical team serving several tiny and remote villages.
Was there a man in her life who might share her vision and her work? Not really, though there was a young missionary working out from United Church headquarters that she thought was sort of cute…

And so farewell to Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam who have been our heroines for the past nine chapters and 18 weeks, more or less.


6 Responses to “Abigail, Rebecca and Miriam (Ch. 9 – Conclusion)”

  1. charles kirby says:

    Well, I do think we could keep ‘peeking’. Interesting progressions, but not a finfish: Y E T !


  2. Rose says:

    I love it, spoon fed and all.

  3. Libby Buchanan says:

    I just love Miriam. As a bedtime book it was great,now to bed!!! Lots of love Libby

  4. Jack Long says:

    OK Now I’m satisfied. Only Miriam still seems a little unsettled but she is still fairly young and we can’t stick around to watch her for the next twenty years.
    Altogether a good yarn.
    Thanks Lyman.

  5. Silvana Ness says:

    Absolutely genial, Lyman!

    From my perspective, I think your gathering all the threads by pushing the events 20 years down the road, was a great idea.

    Very satisfying and very well thought out.

    Thank you , Lyman. Now for the next lot – I am sure something is already brewing and wishing to be born!

  6. siny snoek says:

    looking forward to the rest of the story

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