A Waltons Story

(The Waltons Fan Fiction)

By: Kristi N. Zanker

 

Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters, settings, etc. are the property of Lorimar Productions and Warner Bros. Television. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I, in no way am associated with the owners, creators, or producers of The Waltons. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

8.

The Phone Call

 

The streets were deserted as John-Boy started to walk home. He took the same way he always did. The weather hadn’t changed at all; it was crisp and cool, with spring creeping up. But there was something different about this time. Just four hours ago, he walked to Hastings House to drop off the third revision of his second novel. After dropping the manuscript off, he went over to the Associated Press building.

John-Boy was working on a new article about the recent Lend-Lease Act that had been passed by President Roosevelt last month. Talk buzzed around the office on whether this would bring the United States into the war or not. The Lend-Lease Act was immediately forgotten when he received the phone call. At first, he couldn’t hear what was said. There was too much noise in the background on the other end of the line. When he found out what was said, he wished he had never picked up the phone. He did not expect news like this. And now, he was on his way home to tell Daisy that his Grandpa was dead.

Silence greeted John-Boy as entered the apartment. The living room looked spotless. Lunch dishes were drying on the rack. He set his briefcase on the couch and then sat down to try to sink in the news. Feeling restless, he got up and went over to their phone. He knew it was only an hour before he had spoken to his father, but he wanted to see how everyone else was holding up. Besides, he had to tell them what time he was coming in on the train. He dialed home.

The phone rang three times and then John-Boy heard Jason’s voice on the other end.

“It’s good to hear from you, are you able to return home?” asked Jason.

“Yes, we are taking the train this afternoon. It leaves at five in the evening. We should be in Richmond by eleven or so. Could you pick us up?”

“That’s no problem. I’m just glad that you’re able to come back,” replied Jason.

“How is everyone doing?” asked John-Boy.

“Well right now, Mama, Grandma and Daddy are at the funeral parlor making arrangements.”

“How are the others doing?”

“We’re all in shock. Elizabeth is taking it really hard. The phone has been ringing all day long. I know Mama and Daddy will be happy to know you’re coming home.”

“Right. Jason, I’m going to hang up now. See you later tonight.”

“Okay.”

“Give everyone a hug for me.”

“Will do.”

He hung up the phone, went into the hallway and peeked into Melissa’s room. She was fast asleep. It’s good she’s taking a nap now, he thought. We’ll be leaving soon. He found Daisy asleep in their bedroom. John-Boy climbed into bed next to her. He lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the first button of his shirt. He rolled over and gave Daisy a light kiss on the cheek. She stirred a little. He put his arms around her. This jolted her awake.

“John! You scared me half to death! What are you doing home?” said Daisy.

“I didn’t want to do that. I don’t know how to tell you…but this morning I got a phone call from Daddy. My Grandpa’s dead.”

The lump in his throat was so large; John-Boy didn’t think he could say anything else. Daisy hugged him. Like an infant, she rocked him back and forth, as he cried for the man who meant so much to him, was so wise, and told a great tall tale.

When he calmed down, he told her that they would be taking the 5 p.m. train to Richmond. He mentioned that Elizabeth was not doing well at all.

“Hopefully, when we get there, I hope I can comfort her in some way. We always had a special bond,” he said.

“Yes, I know. She looks up to you, John. Well, I better get us packed and ready then,” she said.

Daisy got up and started to pack. John-Boy got up and retrieved his journal from the desk drawer. He sat at the kitchen table and opened up the tablet. He wanted to put his thoughts down while they were still fresh in his mind. He thought that being the literary man in the family, they would most likely ask him do the eulogy. But he had time on the train to think about the words he wanted to use for that as well. He closed his eyes for a minute and was trying to escape the pain he was feeling, but it did not help. Nothing did; his Grandpa was gone.

It was three-thiry in the afternoon by the time they had their bags packed. They stopped by Millie's house and asked her to keep an eye on the place and to water Daisy's plants.

“John,” Millie said. “Please tell your family that I’m praying for them, especially your grandmother. Losing a husband after all those years; tell her how sorry I am.”

“I will, Millie, and thank you for everything,” he said as he gave Millie a big hug.

He walked towards the door. Melissa and Daisy waved good-bye.

They walked downstairs and flagged a cab to Grand Central station. It was four in the afternoon, but they wanted to get there in plenty of time. John-Boy walked with Daisy and Melissa in tow to the ticket counter. He purchased their tickets, found the waiting area, sat down and waited on the benches till their time of departure.

They boarded the train at the time it rolled in to the station. Thankfully, their train included a dinner. John-Boy realized he had not eaten all day. He wasn't so concerned about himself, but was thinking about Melissa. After they sat down and got situated, John-Boy took out his tablet and wrote a few words.

Today was the quickest day and yet the longest day of my life. We lost the pillar and strength of our family. I know we are better off for knowing such a gentle man of this Earth, but it’s never easy to say good-bye. How do you say good-bye?

It was close to eleven. Melissa was asleep leaning against Daisy. John-Boy wrote his thoughts again on what he could say, if asked to speak. The words poured from his heart, but he had his emotions under control.

Melissa stirred when the train stopped. Daisy held onto her, as she and John-Boy disembarked. They found Jason waiting right outside the train station for them. John-Boy set their belongings down and gave his brother a hug.

“I’m so glad you could come home. I know it’s a big comfort to every one at the house,” said Jason.

The four of them piled into the car and headed for home. Daisy had Melissa situated on her lap, and the little girl eventually fell asleep once again.

“Jason,” John-Boy asked quietly, so he wouldn’t disturb or startle Melissa. “How are they doing?”

“Daddy’s holding in there, but you can see the look on his face. He feels terrible.
Before Grandpa left for the day they were arguing again; all Daddy wanted him to do was not work so hard. Grandpa got into one of his huffs about it and took off with his fishing pole. That’s where they found him… Daddy feels just dreadful about it. He isn’t saying much but, John-Boy, he doesn’t have to. I know he feels responsible.”

“That’s silly; Daddy shouldn’t feel responsible for what happened to Grandpa. It was his time.”

He was thinking that could be part of what he might say. Zebulon Walton loved God, his family, life itself, and went on his terms the way he wanted to. But at the moment, John-Boy kept these thoughts and the tribute to himself.

It was almost midnight by the time they pulled up to the house. Someone left the outside light on. Melissa woke up after the car was turned off. John-Boy grabbed the suitcases out of the rumble seat, and then turned to find Olivia, John, and most of the family filing out onto the porch and down the steps to greet them. Mama took Melissa from Daisy and carried her inside the house. Once they were inside, Olivia came down the stairs, announcing that Melissa was asleep on the cot in John-Boy’s room. Mary Ellen and John-Curtis occupied that room once John-Boy officially moved to New York. The two of them moved into the girls’ room for the time being. It was a full house, but they made due after everyone sat down at the kitchen table and had a cup of coffee and a sandwich Olivia made.

Grandma was finally sleeping. Olivia and John were worried about her, but they realized her strength and felt it was best to let her sleep for now. Once the coffee was drunk and the sandwiches disappeared, John-Boy was grateful; he could feel the tiredness of the day creeping up on him.

“This has been the longest day of my life,” he said to the others sitting around him.

“I know how you feel, Son. It has been draining on all of us,” said John.

“So Daddy, what are we going to do? I know Grandpa's wishes, but I cannot picture him any place else other than on Waltons Mountain,” said John-Boy.

“We were thinking the same thing,” said Olivia. “Yesterday, we made arrangements for Reverend Buchanan to do the service. But we should have it up there and that’s where Grandpa wanted to rest. We’ll have to discuss this with Grandma tomorrow.”

“I also think that’s what Pa would’ve wanted,” said Daddy.

“I do, too, Daddy,” said Mary Ellen.

“Well, before we make anymore decisions, I would like to have Grandma have the final say,” said Olivia.

They all nodded in agreement.

“John-Boy, I know that there’s one thing Grandma was saying today. They both would want you to say something,” said Olivia.

“I had figured that, Mama. I was working on what to say during the train ride here, but I haven’t finished yet.”

“Oh, good,” his mother said. “I know you will do us all proud. Well, it’s getting late; we should all go to bed.”

They put their dishes in the sink and made a bee-line upstairs for what would hopefully be a good night’s rest.

*~*~*

John-Boy awoke with a start. He heard his Grandpa calling him.

“John-Boy! John-Boy, get up now! Your Daddy’s ready to go hunting!”

He sat up his bed, but he couldn’t get himself to move. His Grandpa called him again.

“John-Boy! We need to get over to the Baldwin Sisters!”

“Grandpa?” John-Boy called.

“John-Boy, your Daddy needs your help in the saw mill this morning.”

“Grandpa!”

“John-Boy, how about you and me goin’ fishing?”

Somehow, John-Boy made it to the door of his room. He opened it and there stood Zebulon Walton.

“Grandpa!” He could feel tears forming in his eyes. John-Boy threw his arms around him. Just as he was about to hug him, Grandpa disappeared.

Suddenly, John-Boy found himself in bed again. He was in a daze, for he had just been at his door. When the clouds in his mind parted, he realized that it had only been a dream. Grandpa wasn’t here, he was gone. John-Boy wiped the sweat from his face. He noticed he had been crying in his sleep. It was then he noticed Melissa’s cot was empty and Daisy was not in the room either. He picked up the Big Ben alarm clock on the nightstand.

“Seven-thirty,” he murmured.

Everyone else must be up, he thought. He quickly got dressed and headed downstairs to find the family sitting around the table.

“John-Boy, I was calling you,” Olivia said. “I thought you’d never make it down to breakfast.”

“No, you didn’t call me. It was…” No, he couldn’t tell them. “Never mind.”

John-Boy sat down and Olivia put a plate of hotcakes in front of him. He looked up and saw Daisy, sitting across from him. She looked as if she was not feeling well. He wasn't feeling to well himself after the dreams he had, but he did not dare tell anyone. After all, it was a dream, wasn't it?

“Daisy…Darling, are you all right?” John-Boy asked.

“I was up all night getting sick. I must’ve ate something on the train that didn’t agree with me. I just feel nauseous now.”

“Do you want some tea to calm your stomach?” asked Olivia.

“Yes, maybe I could try that and some toast,” answered Daisy.

“Coming right up.”

Olivia was preparing Daisy’s tea when all of a sudden Grandma came out of her room. John-Boy leapt up from the table and went over to give her a hug. He tried to be brave, but it was so hard. Tears began to form in the corners of his eyes.

“I miss him so much,” said John-Boy.

“I…know,” said Grandma.

John-Boy finally let go. Daisy got up and hugged her, along with Melissa.

“Is there anything we can do to help you, Grandma?” asked John-Boy.

“Being here!”

John-Boy, Daisy, and Melissa helped Grandma sit down at the table.

“Ma, we already talked to John-Boy about the eulogy,” said John.

“I only hope I can do this in a way that is befitting, Grandma,” said John-Boy.

Grandma took John-Boy's hand into hers and gave a knowing look.

“You will…you will,” she replied softly.

After finishing breakfast, they brought their coffee and tea in to the living room. Elizabeth was sitting there quietly. Gone were the braids and her thick, red hair hung loosely down her back.

“How are you doing, honey?” asked John-Boy, as he sat next to her. She hugged him.

“Everything I love leaves or dies. I feel can't love anyone anymore. If I do, even a little bit, they’ll go away and never come back,” answered Elizabeth.

“Elizabeth, you can't stop loving people. Remember, I told you that before. Don't you love me?”

“Oh, you know what I mean. It hurts too much.”

“I know…it hurts me too. But a part of life is death and we all have to accept this as much as it hurts.”

“I know. But I don’t ever want to hurt this way again.”

“Well, we have each other to help make it though these times and we have to remember that God has plans for Grandpa. He will always be in our hearts. Whenever you want to talk to him, He will be there for you.”

“Really, John-Boy?”

“Yes.”

“That makes me feel a little better. I still miss Grandpa, but knowing that helps,” said Elizabeth.

Just then Melissa came into the room.

“Elizabeth, will you play dolls with me?” she asked, with a wide grin on her face.

“Sure,” replied Elizabeth, as she got up, took Melissa’s hand and led her up the stairs.

“John-Boy, that was beautiful…what you said. It has been so hard for her,” said Olivia.

“I agree. It makes me feel easier too,” John agreed.

“Daddy, is the Montgomery place still empty?” asked John-Boy.

“Yes, it’s been empty for years. Why do you ask?”

“I need some time to myself to write this. I was thinking of going up there for a while.”

“Sure, son. The key is still in the same place.”

The phone rang and Olivia got up to answer it. John-Boy heard her say, “Hello, Reverend Hank Buchanan.” The conversation went on about the weather and then drifted to the service for Grandpa.

“Daisy, get some rest today, you look tired. I’ll be back in awhile,” said John-Boy, after he leaned over to give his wife a gentle kiss on the cheek.

“Sure, Darling, take your time. I’ll be here,” she replied wearily.

John-Boy carried his pencil and writing tablet and headed up the mountain to the Montgomery place. He loved it up there, the peace and quite. The question was, was he up to the challenge of writing this? He was going to try. He did not want to disappoint his Grandma. Hopefully, it would come to him.

He found the key underneath the mat at the entrance, turned the lock, and opened the door. The living room smelled musty and damp from the long months of being closed up. John-Boy went around and opened all of the windows to let fresh air inside. He went and uncovered the furniture. He found a washcloth near the kitchen sink and did his best of clear away the inches of dust on the tables. Even though he was only going to be here for a very short time, he wanted to make this place feel homey and lived-in.

Once the mustiness and dampness began to fade, John-Boy sat down at the small table in the kitchen. He took out his reading glasses and put them on. Then, he opened up the tablet to an empty page. To begin this was the hard part. The thoughts he had written on the train ride were all scattered. Reading over what he had written before several times, he tried to piece together everything. Finally the words started to flow.

I was asked to speak on behalf of my family about a man we all loved…my grandfather Zebulon Tyler Walton. He had a love and respect for life and it showed in everything he did. He did not need material things. He was a truly happy man who endured the goodness of life as well as the sadness, but endured it all. My Grandpa once told my Grandma that all he could give her was this good Earth and all the trimmings. But he gave so much more.

He managed to teach you. In turn, you learned from him, even though it may not have been intended. Whether it was a story of long ago, like the one about the white deer, the dog that stopped the train, or when he charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders...Grandpa was witty, smart and most people who knew him respected his way of thinking.

Grandpa, every time we see flowers, we will think of you. For you taught us the names of every flower. And so, Grandpa, we all gather here, on Waltons Mountain, where our family settled, to let you rest in peace. Know this, Grandpa, that you will be sorely missed.

We are sorry that you left us, but feel we are better people for knowing you. We love you, Grandpa.

John-Boy was satisfied with what he wrote. Instead of going straight back to the house, he left the Montgomery place, leaving it as when he entered, and walked to the top of the mountain. He went up to the place that would be Grandpa's final resting spot. John-Boy felt at peace here, and felt his Grandpa was with him. It was a serene contentment he felt, unlike his feelings of what he awoke to this morning.

Just then, he heard a few twigs snap and rustling of leaves behind him. He turned and looked up to see his father walking towards him.

“Daddy! How did you know I was up here?”

“I didn't, son. I just came up here to do some thinking.”

“Me too. You know something, Daddy? I feel that Grandpa is still here with us. I feel that he is giving his approval on his resting place and what I wrote today."

“I’m sure he would be proud of you, son. I know he was before he passed.” John suddenly got quiet. “John-Boy, I feel terrible. I never wanted our last words to be an argument; I just wanted him to slow down. He was trying to do the work of a man half his age. I know he was struggling, but he was too proud to admit it. I just told him to take it easy and we could get the boys to help us when they got out of school. Before long, he was fit to be tied, and took off.”

“Well, he was a proud man. Try to think of this way, Daddy. He left this earth on his terms. He died the way he wanted to—with a fishing pole in his hand.”

“That he did,” replied John, who looked off into the distant for a minute and then turned to his eldest son and said, “I think it’s time to head back now.”.”

The two of them walked slowly down the mountain. As the house loomed near, John-Boy and his father noticed that a few more cars dotted the front lawn, and realized that they belonged to Reverend Buchanan, Ike and Corabeth Godsey. When John-Boy and John came in the front door, they found them sitting with Olivia and Grandma, discussing the arrangements for the service.

“John, where did you take off to?” asked Olivia.

“I just went up on the mountain for a walk and found my son doing the same thing,” answered John.

“Did the right words finally arrive?” she asked.

“I think so, Mama. Where’s Daisy?” John-Boy replied.

“Upstairs resting. She’s still not feeling too well.”

He climbed the stairs and popped his head into his old bedroom to see Daisy and Melissa napping. He was going to let her sleep when he heard a muffled sound.

“John, how did you do? Were you able to put your thoughts together?” asked Daisy.

“Yes, I feel like I captured his essence, and spirit,” he said.

“Oh good, I’m glad to hear that. I’m still feeling nauseous. I think I’m going to rest a bit longer.”

He leaned over and kissed her forehead.

“Take your time, we have all day.”

John-Boy left the bedroom and went downstairs to the kitchen to see what was for lunch. He found some leftover meat loaf and made another sandwich. His father joined him at the kitchen table after pouring a cup of coffee.

“Daddy, what’s wrong?” asked John-Boy.

“I was just thinking of the orders I’m not able to fill right now and with the cost of everything how I’m going to manage?”

“Well, Daddy, how about after I finish my lunch, I can come out and help you. I’m a bit rusty, but if you don't mind, I’ll be glad to help.”

“Why sure, son, that would be fine.”

John and John-Boy went out to saw mill and managed to get the most important orders finished. It felt good for him to work from the sweat of his brow instead of typewriter or pen. They worked until it Ben and Jason came home and had them deliver the orders. Once they returned, John had the entire family gather around the table. John-Boy watched as each member sat down. One by one, each member of the family glanced over at the empty chair at the end of the table.

Copyright © 2005 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

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Copyright © 2014 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

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