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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Sugar and the Drill Sergeant
By Mary Lou Cook


It had always been just Dad and me. I knew nothing of my Mom except that one day she had left. Raising a child by himself had to be difficult at times. There were moments we had disagreements and misunderstandings. He always provided for us a stable home filled with love. As the years passed I saw age catching up with Dad, he started to have memory loss.

I had arrived at the job site when my cell went off. On the other end I heard Dad’s scared voice say, “Sam, I don’t know where I’m at. I’m lost.”

“Calm down and tell me your surroundings,” I said.

I’m parked in front of a laundry mat. Next door there’s an appliance store called Crawford’s.”

“Dad, stay right there. Don’t leave the parking lot. It will take me awhile to get there.”

After a few years the Alzheimer disease had robbed Dad of all his memories. Because he couldn’t be left alone I had to move him into a nursing home. A big man who once drove back hoes was now an old man in a wheel chair. Even though he no longer knew my name I still visited everyday. I talked about the business, the latest excavating job, and former employees now retired. He stared into nothingness, into a world where I couldn’t reach him. I missed our little talks and the closeness we once shared.

Before turning the business over to me Dad made sure I had learned everything there was about excavating. At the age of sixteen I drove a dump truck and at eighteen could operate a back hoe. Over the years I learned about soil erosion, the impact on habitats, also financial requirements. As a licensed heavy equipment operator and mechanic I knew more then most men.

My one employee that would be the hardest to replace was Judy, my business manager. When it came to the office she ran the place like a drill sergeant with a sweet disposition. I watched men who towered over everyone cower down to her. She made my work load a lot lighter and easier. A single mom of two with an ex husband who provided nothing in child support. As much as possible I gave her job bonuses. Once a month her kids came to my place for a sleep over.

I stopped by the office to see if the needed permits had arrived yet. As Judy and I went over the paperwork a tall cowboy walked into the office. He wore a western shirt with blue jeans. Judy said with smile, “May I help you?”

“I need to talk to the boss of this outfit.”

I said, “I’m the one you want to talk with.”

“Sugar, I need to talk to your boss. Point me in his direction.”

Judy smiled up at him and pointed her finger towards me.

“You can’t be John Talbot or his son, Sam.”

“No, I’m John Talbot’s daughter, Samantha. Who are you?”

“I’m Gavin Chandler, own a little spread west of town. I need to talk to your Dad or a foreman about some excavating.”

“Mr. Chandler, my father no longer owns the business, I do. I don’t appreciate your attitude toward me or my business manager,” I said with conviction. “Standing before you are two competent women who will see the job is done correctly to your specifications. Why don’t you take your excavating needs somewhere else. I’m sure you can find some incompetent man to do business with.”

“Lordy, I heard you had…….” Before he finished his sentence I interrupted him.

“Mr. Chandler, if there is no further business to discuss I need to get back to my crew of men.”

“Sugar, stop by the ranch sometime soon. It will be nice doing business with a competent woman. One that’s not afraid to stand up for herself and her employees. It should be mighty interesting watching you handle my crew of six sons.” He laid his business card on the counter and walked out to his truck.

As he drove off I read his card and asked, “Whose Gavin Chandler?”

Judy said with a laugh, “I thought everyone knew about Gavin Chandler. That little spread he owns covers over a thousand acres in cattle range. A widower raising six boys, some years back his wife died from cancer. Sugar, your mouth moved this excavating business into pay dirt.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Patricia Herchenroether05/26/09
There was definitely more than one story here, maybe too many for one entry. I don't see how this fits the topic, either. You are an excellent writer-I was caught up in the Altzheimer story and would like to see that expounded. Also, the excavation business part would make a dandy romance. Please give us more of both.