The Door Opens part 2: In part one, Charles was living with an old woman he called Lady who unfortunately passed away. Charles had dug a grave and laid her to rest. He decided that he would decorate her grave in such a way that she would not be forgotten.
The second day after Charles laid his friend Lady to rest, he went over to her grave taking with him the chair that leaned up against the house near the front door. There he sat and looked at the mound of fresh dirt that by all appearances looked like someone had been buried there. Sitting in the chair motionless for several hours and thinking about what he should do to honor his dear friend Lady. The idea came to him to cover the mound of dirt with rocks. He would do his best to lay them out in a particular fashion as to be memorable to anyone that came to see or that passed by Lady’s grave.
There was no shortage of rocks to the proximity of the house, and even further out there was a dry wash that was filled with rocks of all shapes and sizes, most of them were gray looking granite. He started collecting rocks mostly of a particular size so that he could start building the foundation around the dirt mound of the grave. One by one he circled the base and then started to add a second and third tier. Before long the grave was covered with rocks with the exception of the very top portion. There he wanted to create some sort of design, or even spell the name he knew her by. He walked down to the wash and looked for small black rocks. He filled his pockets with as many as he could carry. And then he started the process of finishing off the top of Lady’s grave. After he wrote out her name across the top, he created borders around the letters with small white rocks so it would be easy to read.
Charles stepped back and looked admiringly at the work he completed. The sun was starting to set and he figured it was time to go in the house. He looked around when he got inside. It felt so empty without his dear friend Lady, and again his eyes started to tear up. He went over to his bed and started to cry. He thought to himself, “I’ve never really cried before, and I never felt this way about anyone.” Charles did not eat any food that night he just laid on his bed in a sorrowful state and finally fell asleep. The next morning he got up, fixed himself a little bit of breakfast, mostly vegetables from the garden. “It’s a good thing Lady taught me how to work the garden, otherwise I would probably starve.” He was thinking as his stomach was making all kinds of noises, and he hoped the breakfast of vegetables would be satisfying enough.
It was time to go back out to the grave and add more rocks to complete the composition he had in his mind. But before he left the house he decided that he should look around some of Lady’s things to see if there was anything there he could put around the grave to commemorate her. There really wasn’t too much, but then he discovered a chest-like box that was somewhat tucked behind her bed up against the wall. He pulled the bed out and sure enough there was an old looking and very weathered box of sorts. It wasn’t locked and he decided to take a look inside. They were mostly papers and quite a bit of paper money that was bundled together with string. “Well this will help buy some food when I walk into town, maybe I’ll even get myself some new pants and shirts.” Charles thought to himself. He decided to put everything back in the box and he neatly put it right back exactly where he found it. He figured it was safe there and nobody was really going to bother it; including himself.
By this time it was getting to be around 10 AM and Charles went back out to the gravesite. He remembered seeing an old wheelbarrow when he was out walking a month earlier. Trying to remember where he saw it took some time but he finally figured it out. So off he went to fetch the wheelbarrow knowing that it would be a lot easier to carry rocks in. This time he was looking for rocks that were equal in size, mostly about 3 or 4 inches. He didn’t really care if they were around but he was hoping to find mostly flat rocks.
Pushing the wheelbarrow back to the gravesite filled with rocks, Charles began to create rock designs around the grave, eventually they went in all directions. Some of the rock designs measured 10 to 15 feet or more in size. He was proud of how beautifully they laid out on the ground. The more he built these artistic shapes and patterns, the more excited he got. He was actually having the time of his life. The more he built, the more complicated the designs became, the further out he had to go away from Lady’s grave to give him the space he needed. As weeks passed, the rock designs completely encircled the house, the dirt road leading up to it, and probably out more than 100 yards. If anyone could see what he had created they would crown it an heroic monument to the woman called Lady.
Months passed and the seasons changed. Charles had made the trip into town to pick up some food on several occasions, he even picked up a couple’s shirts and some heavy duty pants. It was on the last trip back that he could see someone standing by the grave. He could not quite make out if it was a man or woman. They were wearing a heavy coat and had a hat on. As he got closer he thought to himself, “I think it’s a woman for sure.” The woman watched him as he got closer to the house. Then she saw he was carrying what appeared to be a heavy gunny sack. As he got near the front door of the house he sat down the bag of canned food and his new clothes. And proceeded to walk over to the grave where the lady was standing.
Charles, recognizing that it was a younger woman, probably close to his age, which by this time he wasn’t exactly sure how old she was. He knew he had been living at Lady’s house for a few years now. Almost simultaneously they ask each other “who are you? And what are you doing here?” Charles spoke first and asked the girl, “what is your name?”
And she replied, “my name is Bethany, Bethany Wilkerson. Who are you?”
“My name is Charles, Charles Casper McBride. I’ve been living here for a few years with the woman I called Lady. You’re standing by her grave.”
Bethany took on a sorrowful expression and asked Charles. “What happened to her?”
Charles told Bethany, “one morning she just didn’t wake up, she must’ve died in her sleep. It made me very sad and I deeply miss her. She was very kind to me and took me in. I had left home when I was a teen, and was wandering. I showed up here and she gave me some food. She told me that if I was willing to help her out with chores around the place I could stay. And so that’s how I met her and that’s why I’ve been making these rock designs in honor of her, and her kindness.”
Bethany was pretty certain that Charles was telling her the truth. He seemed to be very innocent and definitely a harmless person with a kind heart. Bethany asked Charles, “So it’s been you who’s created all these rock designs around her grave and beyond.”
Charles responded, “yes, it was the only thing I could think of to honor her.”
Why did you call her Lady?” Bethany asked.
“She never told me her name, and she seemed to like it when I called her Lady.” Charles said somewhat boastfully.
Bethany said to Charles, “you’re probably wondering who I am.”
Bethany stood in front of Charles with her arms crossed and sizing him up some more, to make sure it was safe to tell him who she was. Then proceeded to tell Charles about herself. “My last name is Wakefield, the woman you called Lady was my grandmother, and I’m not surprised she never told you her Christian name. Her name was Orpah, and it was a name that she did not particularly like. After her husband died she became a real recluse. She was actually quite wealthy. Didn’t you ever wonder who was paying for the electricity and water to this place?”
Charles replied, “I never really thought about that, because I really don’t know how stuff like that works.”
Bethany went on to tell Charles that Orpah’s bills were paid out of the trust that my mother and father were the executors of.”
Charles became very confused and said “I don’t know what that all means, but I guess it’s a good thing.”
Beth with a pretty big grin on her face said to Charles, “yes it’s a good thing Charles.”
Bethany dropping her crossed arms and sticking them into the pockets of her coat continued to tell Charles why she all of a sudden showed up. “My parents have since passed away, my brother and I are now responsible for Orpah’s estate. My parents would never tell my brother and I where she was living. I finally figured it out by looking at the utility bills. I decided I would come and meet her, because the last time I saw her I was a very little girl and I didn’t remember that much about her.”
“I’m glad you were living with her and helped her get by.” Bethany said to Charles with a tender smile on her face. She walked over to Charles and gave him a heartfelt hug. Charles never really had anyone hug him before, and he didn’t really know how to reciprocate, but he figured he should put his arms around her and hugged her back. Which seemed to work because Bethany got a big smile on her face and jokingly said, “Charles I think you need to take a bath, you’re pretty dirty and smelly, I bet once you wash that grime away you’re going to be a pretty handsome man and I’m looking forward to seeing that guy.”
Bethany asked Charles if he wouldn’t mind if she stayed there for a while. Charles said, “that would make me very happy, I do get very lonely and I have never known a girl my age.”
Bethany, with a giggle told Charles, “well it’s strictly platonic for now.”
Charles looked at her and unabashedly said, “Bethany I don’t know what that means, but if you’re telling me that, it must be the right thing to do.”
Bethany laughed out loud and jokingly said, “yes Charles for right now it’s the right thing to do, and who knows, maybe you and I will become better than best friends.”
This story has a happy ending because ultimately they ended up getting married. And to everyone’s surprise, one day a small Cessna plane was flying over the area doing some land surveying. The pilot and his passenger saw all these giant rock designs surrounding the house and most of the land near it. They told the newspaper in the town where they lived, and eventually a reporter from the paper went out there and took aerial photographs of the place. Before long there were numerous articles written about Charles and Bethany, and of course Lady. Eventually the story was turned into a very romantic movie for the Hallmark Channel.
What happened to Bethany Wakefield and Charles Casper McBride when they moved away from Lady’s house? It was eventually taken over by the park services and turned into a State Park, with a visitor center complete with the history of the place. Bethany and Charles paid for a proper headstone for Lady (Orpah) it read, “Here Rests a True Lady… Who Had a Kind And Loving Heart, RIP.
Bethany became Mrs. McBride. They ended up having three children, two girls and a boy who they named Charles. They live in Chandler, Arizona. Even though they could easily live off the inheritance Bethany received from Orpah’s estate, Charles decided he liked working with rocks and he became a landscaper for one of the biggest landscape companies in the metropolitan area of Phoenix Arizona. Both Bethany and Charles entertained the thought of writing a book, but so far neither one of them have put a pen to paper.
The Door Opens… is a tribute to the best laid plans that never materialize. When destiny is in charge, The Door Opens decidedly for each and everyone’s determinant fate.
Rod Jones Artist-Writer©