Sherman sits in the living room in one of the easy chairs and he is reading Zane Grey and has his Tex Ritter albums playing than Walter, who is also known as Radar, comes in the room without even knocking. He has worry lines on his forehead and not paying any attention to Sherman. Sherman looks up at him and he watches Walter pace the floor back and forth at least two times than Sherman puts down his book on his lap then he says. "When you get finished there, I'm sure Mildred would like for you to pace in the kitchen" Walter looks up at him and asks. "Huh? Oh, I'm sorry". Sherman then asks him. "What's wrong son?" Walter sits down in the chair beside Sherman and says. "It's Sunshine, we had a fight" Sherman sighs and reaches up and turns off the record player then asks. "I figured that was it, you had the face of a man who lost a round with a filly. What happened?" Walter looks around then says. "She says we don't spend time together, that I'm always busy working ! Well, of course I'm working, I'm trying to make a home for her and Misty"

Sherman looks at Walter then asks. "Well, are you?" Walter looks at him then asks. "What?" "Not spending enough time with her". Walter sighs then says. "I told you, I'm trying to make a home..." Sherman interrupts him by saying. "Son, sometimes we can be too busy "trying to make a home" that we forget if we don't take the time, the home will become a house". Walter holds a finger to his chin then says. "Yeah, she said something like that but..." Sherman puts a hand up then says. "Son, I did the same thing...it was in the middle of my 2nd year of residency..." . Walter looks at him and Sherman tells him about the time.

I came in the small apartment where we were staying dragging like a dog and Mildred turns to see me and her mouth falls open and she runs over and grabs me and she helps me over to the overstuffed easy chair' and she says. ' At least you finally have some time off'. I open my left eye at her and say. 'Yeah, two days'. She looks at me with her kind blue eyes and she kisses my hand then says. 'Just sit there and rest'. I barely nod my head and start to doze off to sleep then I hear her get up and I hear her moving about and I open my eyes to see what she is doing and I see my wife putting up decorations, Christmas decorations all around the apartment, a swag here, wreath here; putting up candles on the mantel over the fireplace and I say. 'Christmas! That's why we got the two days off! I haven't even thought about it being in the second year of residency and having more things to do. Wangensteen seems to have his mind someplace so it's putting us on edge...'. She turns to me and she says. 'Shhhh, it's okay Sherman, I know how crazy things have been'. I only give her another lazy smile and say. 'I don't even have a present for my best filly'. Mildred gave me the sweetest smile I ever saw and she told me. 'Sherman, go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, this place will be a Christmas dream!' I nod my head, yawn and say. 'I think I will, good night sweetheart'. I gave her a peck on the cheek, turned around and groped for the bedroom door and with the room being so small, I took just two steps and flopped on the bed like an old rag doll and fell instantly asleep.

The next morning, well, I finally felt human. I put on my clothes and went out to the small kitchen , sat down to my cup of Joe. Mildred comes over and gives me a good morning kiss and asks me. 'How did you sleep Sherman?' I look up at her and say. 'Like a baby on clouds...what time did I go to sleep?' She thinks on it then says. ' Eight-thirty, I think'. I think about it then look up at the wall clock, the most expensive thing we could afford then and I say. 'Great sleeping horns! I slept for 12 hours! I haven't slept that much since...I don't know when!' Mildred turns and goes to the stove and she takes eggs off the stove and gets me a plate down and puts it down in front of me with a knife and fork and she gets the eggs then puts them on the plate for me and goes and gets me some orange juice and since the times were tight back then, it was only some orange juice. Anyway, I quickly gulp them down then get up and Mildred takes the dirty dishes to the sink, she doesn't see me go and put on my jacket but when she turns around, she looks at me in disbelief and she asks. 'Where are you going?'

I'm putting on my warm, red scarf than say. 'I'm going to the hospital, just for a spell. There's a boy there that we have watched for a few days, was hurt in a wagon wreck and we operated on him but something is going on. It's what has Wagensteen in a spell and I just want to go see' . I'm not looking at my wife and I don't see the mixed feelings in her eyes than she asks. 'Oh, you're just going over there for awhile?' I nod my head then says which to this day was the worst words a man ever said in his life. 'Yeah, probably won't be there 20 to 30 minutes then that new friend of mine, Alan Brady? He's got some new horses at his place. People are just throwing good horses around like old sacks of potatoes these days and I mentioned to him that I haven't been on a good horse ride since Luke crossed over that bridge so he said I could come over and ride the day. Figure it's a good way to spend some time away' Then before I know it, I hear a splat and it's a wet rag that hits the wall, barely missing the wreath that she had just put there the night before then she give out a careful choice of words out of her mouth but there was just enough edge of heat to her mouth that the devil himself was uncomfortable and she says. ' You mean to tell me that after 2 months of me barely seeing you and at Thanksgiving, I only saw you like for two minutes! You're just going to come in here, sleep for 12 hours then eat some food then GO back to the hospital then ride some horses for the rest of the day? !?" My heart starts racing but every word I say only adds another nail to my coffin.

'I'm just going to go check on the boy laying' up there! Then I'm going to go do some relax in' and the best way for me is to ride horses, you know that!' She clenches her little fist then says. 'I know that! I am not begrudging you that! It's just you think you would want to spend a little time with your wife!' I nervously shift my weight around while straightening my jacket and scarf then I say. 'I'll be back tonight and we can spend all night together..." I walk closer to her and I say in a low, seductive voice. "Maybe even do some snuggling". Instead of her smiling, she looks at me with fire in her eyes and she says in a low, even voice. 'Just go Sherman'. I stand aback and she says again very firmly. 'GO! Before something is said that we might not can take back'. I look at her then shrug my shoulders because I still don't see what I'm doing wrong and I just turn around and leave.

A little while later, I go in the hospital and Micky comes to me, I can tell he is tired and ragged as I was last night. He has a five o'clock shadow growing on his cheeks but his eyes brighten a mite when he sees me and he says. 'Hey Sherman, what are you doing here? Come to check up on us? Think the roof will cave in without ya?' I laugh then say. 'Noh, just came here to look in on that Landers kid, even tho I was tired as a horse after a 20 mile race; I just couldn't shake him off my mind last night or this morning'. Micky rubs his eyes then says. 'I know the feeling'.

I take a good long look at him and I say. 'Micky, I know I looked like you like night but I'm gonna say it, you look like something that comes out of the back-end of a mule after he just ate his last meal'. Micky laughs than says. 'Are you saying I look like * #!' Sherman laughs then says. 'Yeah, I guess I am. When do you get off?' Micky looks around then says. 'When 7:00 hits, I'm going to take my two days. Glad they are letting the residents do this for Christmas, you'll be back by the end of the week?" Sherman unbuttoned his jacket then says. "With bells on"Micky nods his head then Sherman says. 'I'm going to go see the boy'. Sherman turns and goes down the hall then goes in a room on the right then he opens the door and he sees a young 12-year-old dirty blond-haired boy in a deep coma then Sherman looks to the left of the bed and he sees his pretty mother. He could tell that the woman was once more pretty than she is now. She has a heart-shaped face, blue eyes that are filled with the tears of a mother in pain, her little button nose red and raw from blowing and wiping and her lips continuously quiver in a prayer. Sherman's heart drops and he walks carefully over to the bed and looks down at the boy, feels his feverish head and carefully feels the top of the covers that's swollen from the boys stomach and he asks.

"Has he woke up any?" The mother sadly shakes her head no then says in a voice wrapped with pain. "I thought the surgery would help him, it did for a few days; what happened?" Sherman sadly shakes his head then says. "I don't know". The mother then says. "I think Doctor Wagensteen may know, he has come in and out of here a lot" . Sherman looks around then says. 'Oh? Well, I'm sure whatever he is doing will help". She sadly shakes her head then says. 'No, my son...he will be dead soon, he will join his father' He looks at her then asks. 'What makes you say that?' The woman slowly raises her hand to her heart then says. 'It tells me'

A deep, heavy silence comes then where the only thing that is heard is the boys slow breathing and the mother's sniffles and tears then she says. "The only thing...I wish I had more time. I have wasted so much time with him but there has been so much to do since his father died" Sherman remembers his own father's death and how his mother worked after that then he says. "I understand that". She looks at him then says. "So I do not have many memories of his laughter...we have wasted so much time and it goes so quickly. Do you have children?"

Sherman shakes his head no then says. "No, we want some but I think we might ought to wait a bit longer". She nods her head then says. "So you have a wife? Then why are you here?' 'I came to see about your son'. She gives a weak smile then she says. 'I thank you...I think you will be a excellent doctor but...do not waste time with us, go to your wife, you may not have as much time as you think'.

That causes me to think then I slowly get up and leave the room and go down the hall, I see Alan waiting for me and he says. 'Sherm? You sure you want to do this? It's freezing today'. I look around and purse my lips then says. 'You're right Alan and I got better things to do'. He smiles and hits me on the arm and say. 'Say hi to Mildred for me...and oh, Merry Christmas!' I smile back and say. 'Oh, same to you'. I walk out to my truck with a renewed energy feeling in me and I drive back to the apartment building...somehow it didn't look the same as I left. I go in and up the stairs to the 2nd floor and I go in and I see Mildred sitting in a chair and then I felt like I had been hit in the stomach with a 200 lb. mule, she had been crying.

I go over there...nervous as the day I met her, I sit down on the stool and I take her hand and she says. 'Did you forget something Sherman?' I kiss her hand like a true gentleman and I say. 'Yes, I forgot that I'm a damn fool. You are the most important thing to me and yes, being a doctor is important but our marriage is THE most important thing in this world to me, more important than any horse or person on this planet and I want to spend every waking moment with you in my arms'. Tears come from her again but this time I can tell that they are from joy and she hugs me tighter than a bear and I take her by the hand and take her over to the coat rack and help her put on her white coat that helps her look like the angel she is then she asks. 'Where are we going?' Sherman just smiles at her and he says. 'You'll see'. He goes over and takes out a bag from the closet while Mildred wipes the last of her tears with a purple laced handkerchief then he goes over and gently holds out his arm for her to take ahold of and they leave.

A while later, their truck stops in front of a frozen pond. It's a rather large pond with a stone bridge over it, icicles cover the bridge. A little pier is down at the far right with a boat tied to it and a red barn not far from it but you can tell that the barn is abandoned. Pine trees line the pond on the right side but you can see several bare oak trees. A wooden bench is nearby covered with snow and Mildred looks to Sherman and asks. 'Where are we?' Sherman stands up and takes a deep breath of the fresh air and he says. 'This is one of the few places that I remember my dad bringing us to, it's the old McCrillis place'. Mildred looks at him and says. 'McCrillis? It's been abandoned for years, should we be here?' Sherman shrugs his shoulders and says. 'Why not? She giggles then says. 'Why not?' Sherman moves the snow off the bench, sits her down then goes back to the truck and gets the bag then goes back over to her and opens the bag to show a pair of ice skates. Puts them on her and they go out to the pond. At first, they are wobbly and nervous but soon they are gliding.

Back in 1965-

Sherman then says. "And that's how I learned my biggest lesson in life". Walter looks around then he says. "I've been a fool haven't I?" Sherman puts down Zane Grey on the table then he says. "We have all been, don't get down on yourself". Walter walks around then asks. "What do you think I should do?" Sherman waves his hand then says. "I don't know son, that's up to you. I'm just here to set you straight by the stories of my long and weary life" Walter smiles at him then says. "Thanks dad" . Walter leaves to go back to Sunshine while Sherman looks at Mildred coming in the kitchen with some cleaning supplies and he thinks then he gets up and goes behind her and gives her a kiss and a hug then she says. "My goodness, what's this for?" He smiles at her and says in a soft voice. "Just for being you. Come on, go get your coat and blanket and let's go for a ride"

She looks at him with a puzzled look then says. "Okay...did Jerry come get his Vauxhall Velox?" Sherman nods his head and says. "Yes, this morning. The garage finished working on our car this morning...Jerry's a good neighbor, he didn't have to loan us his car". She gets her beautiful red coat and gloves and gets three blankets from off the coach and Sherman puts on his coat and then they go out and get in the car and drive a long familiar drive. They drive to McCrillis pond, they get out and Mildred almost cries then they sit down on the bench and she says. "It's not wooden anymore". Sherman nods his head and says. "They found some of the McCrillis's in Oregon, they donated this to be a state park so that's why things are fixed up"

They sit down and Mildred asks. "Do you recall the first time we came here?" He smiles and nods his head and she says. "It's still so beautiful. The pine trees are a little thicker and I see a brick hole in the bridge but other wise, it's still the same. There's still that same crack in the ice at the far edge of the pond" He smiles then says. "I see some people still come here, there's somebody's lost kite in that oak tree...there's some mittens on the ground" She smiles and says. "There's a snowman somebody made on the other side of the pond". Sherman smiles and she then says. "It's a shame there's nobody skating out there now, enjoying this"

He turns his head and looks at her with an idea in his head.

A few hours later, Sherman and Mildred are sitting on that same bench covered with the blankets but this time they watch Walter and Sunshine doing some lovely skating on the pond and Mildred and Sherman smile and hold hands.

A/N-This is my longest chapter, if there is any grammar mistakes, please forgive me!

Sand n' Sable