Book #6 Epilogue

 

The Fuller Creek Series: Book #6 Epilogue

  (Do not read Epilogue if you have not read Book #6 first; spoilder alert)

 

 

After Katie and I graduated from high school, the next part of our lives was filled with many incredible things. We were now headed to our next adventure-the adventure into the world of college life. To add to the excitement, both Moses and Rachel decided to go to SCC along with us. That first year of college was filled with many late night study sessions, along with a lot of fun with the four of us together. Brian had gone to USC and was doing well with the team as their starting middle-linebacker. We even saw him play a couple of times on TV, which was exciting in itself. Becky stayed local and went to Stanford as she worked on getting her journalism degree. Katie made the comment that she was going to be a great journalist, as Becky "always gets the scoop". She and Steve are still together after all this time. No, she never did get rid of him, as she used to say. After a few years, they moved in together, but to this date, have never gotten married.

Speaking of marriage..., within that first of year of college, Moses and Rachel seemed to be getting very serious in their relationship. And after a wonderful thanksgiving dinner at the girls off-campus apartment, Moses and Rachel left by themselves for a little alone time. However, what we didn't know, was that Moses proposed to Rachel that very night. It was a bit of a surprise, but then again, we knew how much they loved each other. After giving them our congratulations, it made me think about my relationship with Katie. Of course I felt at that point, it was still too early to be thinking on the lines of marriage.

Maybe someday, I said to myself. Maybe someday Katie will have an engagement ring on her finger just like Rachel.

 

For Katie and me, that "someday" would come upon us in the most unusual fashion. The four of us had completed a full year of college, but Rachel was struggling with her studies so she decided to quit and return home. Because of this, Moses decided to go back to Fuller Creek to be with her where he transferred to a local college.

After the fall and spring sessions came and went, Katie and I were finally able to take a class together, which was U.S. History. About midway through the course, our instructor, Mr. Dougherty, decided he would have a little fun with the class. He offered us extra credit if we participated in an extracurricular assignment outside of the classroom. We were studying about the early settlers of California and the surrounding areas. As part of our studies, we touched on the Tongva tribe which inhabited a small group of islands called the Channel Islands. Katie knew about one of these islands called Catalina, because they stopped there when she went on that College Prep Cruise. It was this particular island that our instructor began to talk about this assignment. His assignment was for us to visit the island and gather as much information about the Tongva tribe and its early settlers. To add to the assignment, he told us about the Legend of Cabrillo's treasure. Cabrillo was a Spanish explorer who legend said, had buried a treasure on the island. To make the assignment more interesting, he developed a contest to see what couple or team, could come up with the most valid theory for the existence of this treasure.  Of course that piqued our curiosity, where Katie and I just had to investigate into this.

When we arrived on the island, we began to look into any clues on the existence of this treasure. The clues took us on a journey, where we discovered a hand-drawn map with clues to follow key landmarks. We also interviewed a couple of local people who told us stories that were passed down from generation to generation on this treasure. However, as fate would have it, these set of clues were in-fact leading to an actual treasure-the ultimate treasure!

We followed these clues as far as we could go. They led us to a canyon in the back roads of the island. As the key landmarks of our map revealed themselves, we finally came upon the area where we thought the treasure might be hidden. We hiked through a path that opened up between the hillsides. Everyone in our group, started to look around for a "three rock" formation, which was the final clue to finding the treasure. As we continued to look for this clue, suddenly Robert, a friend of mine from our history class, called out to us.

"Right here you guys! I think I see something in this crevasse behind these rocks!"

We quickly rushed over, as he peered into this small opening behind the three-rock formation. Then the three of us, Robert, Kevin and I, started to move the rocks to the side. Robert then crawled into this small opening and shouted, "I got it! I think we found the treasure!"

I helped him slide this old looking chest out of the opening. I knelt down beside it and pulled the chest in front of me. Katie came over, as the rest of the group gathered around and stared at the chest in amazement. It had some faded leather straps wrapped around the chest, so Kevin cut the straps with his pocket-knife. With my hand on the lid of the chest, I turned to the group with hopeful anticipation.

"Well you guys, are you ready for this?"

Robert excitedly agreed. "Yeah, open it up, Jess. Let's see if we have found the lost treasure of Cabrillo!"

Filled with anticipation, I slowly opened the chest, but only far enough so I could see inside.

Katie excitedly questioned our discovery. "What's in the chest? Is it the treasure?"

As I opened the lid, disappointment draped across my face. "Well you guys, I'm afraid we have been sent on a wild goose chase. There is nothing in here but an old key and this tiny little wooden box."

 I opened the chest so everyone could see inside, and handed Katie the little wooden box and the key.

She studied it for a moment. "Jess, I think this key opens this little box. It seems about the right size."

She inserted the key into the lock. She turned the key and opened the lid only to be disappointed once more.

"All that's in here is a piece of paper," she said, and began to unfold it. "It's a note of some kind."

"Well, why don't you read that note out loud? Maybe there's another clue to find the real treasure."

She then began to read what was written on the note.

"They say that everyone is on a journey in this life to find something. Some people search for the meaning of life as to why we were put on this earth. Yet others search for riches or fame and fortune. But for me..., my journey of finding what I have searched for began when I met a spunky girl by the name of Katie McCullough. And from that moment on, my life has never been the same."

At this point I got down on one knee, and pulled an engagement ring out of my shirt pocket. It was then that she finally realized what was happening. She placed her hand over her mouth and her eyes began to well with tears.

I caringly took hold of her hand. "Katie... from the first day we met, I knew I had found a special friendship. But what I didn't know, is our lives would be filled with one adventure after another, and our friendship would grow into so much more. This journey of our lives has brought us through many adventures and we have searched for many treasures. But on this day of July 8th 1989, I want you to know that my search is over-for I have found the ultimate treasure; and that treasure is you. Katie Marie McCullough... I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"

As the tears streamed down her face, I rose to my feet and we kissed through tears of joy. As we continued to hold each other in that loving embrace, I realized I still had a question that needed answering.

"So Baby..., you still haven't actually answered my question. Are you going to marry me?"

That familiar spark of playfulness beamed in her eyes. Then she reared back and slapped me on the shoulder. "Of course I'm going to marry you-what do you think!"

We laughed about that play on words, and then I placed the ring on her finger.

With a loving gaze she placed her arms around my neck. "Oh Jess, you have no idea how much I love you."

As we engaged in another kiss, the rest of the group started clapping. As they continued, Katie turned towards the group.

"You mean to tell me you guys were in on this?"

"Yes we were," they all said.

Then a chorus of familiar voices rang out. "Congratulations Katie...!"

Suddenly, Rachel, Becky, Brian and Moses, came out from behind these rocks.

Katie's face beamed with surprise. "You guys! What are you doing here?" as she went over and hugged them.

"You didn't think we were going to miss the proposal of the century, did you?" Brian said.

"So you mean to tell me that all of you were in on this too?"

"Yes, Jess set this whole thing up. He had Mr. Dougherty to create this assignment. He then created that fake map to follow, and he even set-up those local people to tell those stories about the treasure. And actually, we were the ones who came out here earlier and placed that chest behind those rocks."

Our instructor, Mr. Dougherty, extended his hand. "Congratulations you two. Katie, this young man must love you very much in order to go to such lengths to make this proposal so special."

With an admiring gaze she placed her hand on my chest. "You're right, Mr. Dougherty; he does love me very much. His love is priceless, and I wouldn't trade that in for all the treasures in the world."

 

Ten years later...

 

It is said that after several years of marriage, a couple's relationship can start to feel stagnant or what they call "The seven year itch". For Katie and I, nothing could be further from the truth as we celebrated our ten-year anniversary. Since getting married, our lives have been filled with many exciting happenings, and our love has grown stronger with each passing year.

The following year after I proposed to her on Catalina Island, we graduated from SCC with our Bachelor of Arts Degrees. Then we transferred to Cal State Long Beach where I worked on my education degree in teaching, and Katie took courses to get her counseling degree in criminal psychology. In September of that same year, we were married in Fuller Creek where Pastor Tim performed the ceremony. However, as it has been throughout our lives, a little surprise came along with the birth of our son Connor. Connor Aaron Thompson was born just as we were finishing our fourth year of college. This of course was a little hard on Katie, having to juggle a newborn and finish her degree. However, being resolved in her career goals, she managed to finish and then stayed at home to take care of our son. Then about two years later, another bundle of joy came into our lives. With the same big beautiful eyes as her mother, Katelyn Elizabeth Thompson entered our lives. And when I say entered, you have to understand that from the very first day she began to walk, it has been a non-stop adventure trying to keep track of her. Born with the same adventurous spirit, she is always the center of attention wherever we go.

 

On this particular morning, an event would transpire which would change the course in our lives. It was Saturday, and we had just gotten up as Katie was starting to make breakfast. You could smell the aroma of sizzling bacon coming from the kitchen. Katelyn was in the kitchen with Katie trying to help. But to be honest, it was more like Katelyn was making a mess, while Katie was trying to keep her occupied. That particular morning, Katelyn was in one of her more rambunctious moods, and so I decided to help out my lovely wife by getting Katelyn away from the kitchen.

"Pumpkin..., would you come over here to the living room."

"Daddy, I'm helping mommy make breakfast."

"I know sweetie, but Connor wants to play a game of Candy Land with you."

Connor turned with annoyance. "No I don't. She's always messing around and losing the pieces."

"I know, but I want her out of the kitchen. I can tell she is being disruptive to your mother. So be a sport and just play one game with her."

"Oh, alright," he said reluctantly.

Now you have to understand that Connor is the total opposite of Katelyn. He likes things nice and quiet and is not very outgoing. Whereas we can be walking at the mall and Katelyn will go right up to someone and start talking to them like she knows them.

As Katelyn and Connor began to play the game, the phone rang and Katie answered it. She spoke to someone for a few minutes, and then hung up the phone. It was quiet for a moment, when I heard her crying. I quickly got up and rushed to her side.

"Baby, what's wrong? What was that call about?"

She hugged me tight. "That was your mother. She received a call that Mr. and Mrs. McAllister were killed in a car accident while traveling on Highway 5 near the Grapevine. I guess a truck lost its brakes coming down the pass and slammed into them. Your mother also gave me the phone number of a man who is the current executor for the McAllister's. He wants you to give him a call as soon as possible."

"Oh my God, I can't believe they're gone. We just saw them in the summer."

We hugged each other close in consolation, when Katelyn entered the kitchen and saw us in that emotional embrace.

"Mommy, daddy..., why are you crying?" Then she pressed her way in between us and started to cry herself, even though she didn't understand what was going on.

"Sweetie, we got some bad news that some very dear friends of ours have passed away."

"What does that mean? Passed away?"

"It means they have passed on from this life to the next, and are now in heaven."

 

After I touched bases with the executor, we packed our things and began to drive back to Fuller Creek. As we got on our way, I started to think back to the first time we met the McAllister's and all the memories that started from that time on.

"Katie, do you remember that first day we met the McAllister's while doing our report in Mrs. Weaver's class?"

"Yes I remember. I remember at first I was a little intimidated by Mr. McAllister and his strong voice. Little did we know at the time, we would find out their true identity which started our friendship with them. You know over the years I can honestly say I grew to love them. Every now and then I would go visit and talk with Mrs. McAllister about different things, including my problems with you."

"Your problems with me? So I was a big problem to you?"

"No, but you know what I mean. Sometimes I just needed a different perspective on things. I always had my mother to talk about personal issues, but she's my mother and so she would always give me 'motherly' advice. I wanted an outside opinion sometimes from someone who has lived through a lot of life's experiences and could give me some good advice."

"I did the same with Mr. McAllister, and usually our talks were about you too."

"That's because you were in love with me," she said with a proud smile.

"Well maybe I was, but I didn't want to admit it to myself. To be honest, I think I felt something special for you since the day we met, and through the years it continued to grow."

 

 

{KATIE'S NARRATION}

                  

After Jess said that, I sat there thinking about the past ten years of our lives. After he asked me to marry him on Catalina Island, it was a little over a year when we were actually married. It was such an exciting time as my mom and Rachel spent a lot of time preparing for our wedding day. Becky helped some, but was busy finishing up her Journalism Degree and so I mainly relied upon Rachel. I remember when we went to pick out my wedding dress that a particular conversation started up. It started when Becky asked me if I was going to be wearing a white dress or off-white. I knew she asked in that way, because she was trying to find out if Jess and I had sex prior to us getting married. From conversations I had with her in the past, I knew she and Steve already had sexual relations.

"I'll be wearing white...; pure white," I told her proudly.

She looked at me and said, "Really? I would have figured that after all this time you would have done it by now. I know you have your strong religious beliefs, but I just figured that when Jess wanted to go further with you, you would have given in to what he wanted."

Then I remember telling her something which I think kind of shocked her. I told her that Jess never pressured me because he knew that my virtues are very important to me. And so in his mind he respected me for it and didn't want to ruin that. I told her it was hard at times as we are only human, but we are so glad we waited. I remember after saying that to her, that Rachel looked at me and nodded her head like saying, "Good for you, Katie."

Along those same lines, I remember a very emotional moment came when my dad was about to walk me down the aisle. He came into the bride's dressing room and gave me a hug and told me how proud he was of me. I then turned to him and said, "You know Dad, there is something else I think you will be very proud of me for doing. Jess and I waited, and I can wear this white dress proudly." He got a little emotional, nodded his head and said, "I know honey..., I know you waited because you still have that same spirit in you and that little twinkle in your eyes. The Lord is going to bless you in so many ways because of that, and I am so proud of you." With that, he kissed me on the cheek and began to escort me down the aisle-a proud father.

I remember the church was packed as all of our friends and family was there. Pastor Tim, who was now an Associate Pastor, performed the ceremony. The ceremony was a little different, as there were two Best Men and two Maids of Honor. Moses and Brian were Jess' best men, and Rachel and Becky were my maids of honor. Moses and Rachel were married about six months prior to our wedding and she had just found out she was pregnant with their first child. Since then, they have two kids a boy and a girl just like us.

One of the most emotional moments came when Tami walked down the aisle escorted by Ryan. And when I say walk.., I mean she actually walked down the aisle with only the assistance of a cane. Jess and I had no knowledge of how far she had progressed to that point, so it was a big surprise to us. It took her a while to do it, but when she finally made it down to the front, there probably wasn't a dry eye in the whole place.

Another emotional moment came when Jess said his vows to me. Being a writer like he is, his words just flowed in a way that reminded me of that beautiful poem he wrote to me in his journal. Fortunately I remembered to wear waterproof mascara as the tears were just streaming down my face as he recited his vows to me. Most of our relatives were there that day, and we invited the McAllister's to sit in the same row as my grandmother. They were so honored by that, and Mrs. McAllister was crying almost all the way through the ceremony. You could tell Mr. McAllister was proud of us too, but being from the old school, he held back his emotions.

A few other people, who were invited, were Kyle, Rebecca, and Susan Clark. Although it isn't Clark anymore, it's Susan Boyd. No the thing with Sheriff Dan Ballard didn't work out, but Susan met a real nice man who started to go to the church. From what we hear, he is really good with the kids. Well..., they are not exactly kids anymore, Rebecca is now a teenager and Kyle is ready to start middle school. Talking about kids..., guess who has three kids and from what we hear, they are working on their fourth? Yes, none other than Mr. and Mrs. Chris Watson. Chris and Vanessa were married while just in their first year of college. Chris is now the youth pastor taking over for Pastor Tim and Vanessa works as the Calvary Chapel Christian Academy School as the administrative assistant and their book keeper. Another person who attended was Brian's girlfriend. At the time of our marriage he had only known her for about a month, but when love hits you, it hits you. And about six months later they got married themselves. Jess once told me how Brian always seemed to date girls whose names began with the letter K. Well to keep with that tradition, his wife's name is Kristen. Brian was in his senior year at USC and had hopes of turning pro, when he suffered a knee injury that basically ended his football career. However, that didn't stop him from continuing to be involved in athletics. He is now a PE coach for a high school out in Orange County, where he lives with his wife and their son.

Getting back to the wedding..., after Jess and I exchanged vows, I can't even begin to describe how I felt. Years of our friendship was now culminated with us walking down that aisle as husband and wife. As I walked past my mom and we exchanged a warm smile, part of me felt like telling her, "See Mom..., sometimes the Knight and Shining Armor and the Damsel in Distress do go riding off into the sunset and live happily ever after."

At the reception, the room was beautifully decorated and the banquet table was filled with many of our favorite meals. We didn't have it catered, as all the ladies in the church made a special dish and brought it to the reception. We had a three tier wedding cake and when it came time for us to cut and feed it to each other, Jess of course smeared a little on my face. But then like he is, he became so sweet and gentle by taking a napkin and gently wiped the frosting from my nose. Then he pulled me close and whispered in my ear. "The icing on this cake is good, but the icing I've waited for is going to be even sweeter tonight on our honeymoon." After he said that, I blushed and playfully hit him and hoped that our parents who were standing near us didn't hear him. Moving on..., one of the things we gave as a little memento was those little bundles of decorated wedding mints on each table. Of course we placed a few Starburst Candies along with the mints just for fun. We all tried to get Becky to catch the bouquet in hopes she would be the next to get married, but she wanted no part of it. Becky to this day still has not married Steve, but they are living together. When I asked her about marrying him, all she said was, "I don't know about marrying him, but I think I'll keep him around for a little while longer."

When the wedding was over, we went back to my parent's house and got ready to head out for our honeymoon. Our closest friends, of Moses, Rachel, Brian, Becky and Steve, were all there to see us off. They decorated my RX7 with streamers and balloons and wrote on the back windshield, "Just got married..., but a lifetime of friendship."

Jess and I decided to "hit the open road" as he says, and we traveled to several places on our honeymoon. Our first stop, we spent three days on Catalina Island enjoying some beautiful sunsets. From Catalina, we spent the day at Knott's Berry Farm and then made our way down south to San Diego enjoying Sea World and Sea Port Village. Jess won a cute little stuffed animal for me while playing a few games at Sea World and we took many pictures while on our honeymoon. The only bad thing that happened is we lost all of our rolls of film we had taken on our honeymoon, and unfortunately we never found them. But the memories of those events are so vivid in my mind I will never forget them. And as I look to the coming years raising our two beautiful children with this wonderful man by my side, I look forward to what lay ahead in our future."

 

 (JESS' NARRATION)

 

A few days after we arrived in Fuller Creek, came a day filled with sadness as we went to the funeral of Mr. and Mrs. McAllister. As Katie and I passed by their caskets, the emotions of the close bond we shared, all came pouring out. Most people never knew how close we were to them, or the secret we held for them all these years. It was very difficult in dealing with their passing, however we rejoiced in the fact that we knew they were in a better place.

That evening after the funeral, I wanted some time alone with Katie to talk about a few things I had on my mind. With that, I asked my mom and dad to watch the kids. After getting something to eat, we began to drive around town looking at all the old hang-outs and places we used to frequent. I parked in the old downtown area so we could have a nice walk and talk at the same time. Most of the shops were the same, including the little gift shop where we bought our cross necklaces for our birthday. As we strolled along hand-in-hand, I decided to bring up the subject of what has been on my mind since we came back into town.

"Baby, I have a question for you."

"What's that?"

"How do you feel about where we live right now? I mean living in Irvine; do you like living there?"

"I don't know. I guess it is what it is. It's a place to live and we have our jobs there. Why? Are you thinking that perhaps you might want to move back here to Fuller Creek?"

"I don't know-maybe. It's just that when we came back into town it feels like we belong here. As far as our jobs, I can probably get a teaching job at one of the public or Christian schools in the area. And since you are about to start your career, I am sure that Dan Nelson wouldn't mind having you as a part of his team. Also, right now would be the perfect time to move back here because Katelyn is barely going to start Kindergarten, and it isn't like Connor is so attached to his school either."

"So what are you saying? That you want to move back to Fuller Creek?"

"Yes, I guess I am."

She wrapped her arms around my neck. "Oh Jess, I have wanted to move back here for years. I didn't bring up the subject, because I wanted for you to feel the same way I did. I know how you are, wanting me to be happy, and so I know you would have moved back just for my sake. But now that I know you want the same thing, this only confirms what I have been feeling for a long time."

"I don't know what it is about this town, but it just feels like we should be a part of it. It's almost like we are destined to be here. I know that might sound strange, but that's how I feel. Do you remember what was written on the back of that poem plaque we found in the Fuller house? Well for some reason those words have been coming to mind lately. How it said that; 'true riches come from the heart; living in a place you love, with the one you love'. Katie, I already have the one I love in you. But to complete the other part of that, we need to be living in a place that we love also."

"So is it settled? Are we moving back here?"

"Yes, the Thompson family is moving back to Fuller Creek."

 

When I had made the statement that I felt we were destined to be in Fuller Creek, Katie and I would soon find out how true that statement was. The following day we met with the Executor over the reading of the Will of Mr. and Mrs. McAllister. When we arrived at the court building, Katie and I walked in, as this man introduced himself as Ron Hodges the Executor who would be presiding over the meeting. After a few minutes, Mr. Hodges said he was still waiting for a couple of people to show up. A few minutes later the door opened, and to my surprise, my dad and Tami came in. My dad helped Tami take her place at the table, as Katie and I looked at each other with a questioning stare. I was about to ask my dad why they were there, but before I could, the Executor began to speak.

"Some of you may be wondering why you were called to be here; specifically John Thompson and Tami Thompson-Wilson. Jesse..., you and Katie were very close to Tom and Emma aka Harold and Ruth McAllister, so being here might not be a surprise to you. The Will I am about to read has many attached pages and goes into much descriptive detail of properties, assets, investment holdings, and so forth. However, I am going to simplify it by reading the summary statement of the Will.

 

"I Thomas Fuller Jr. and Emma Fuller being of sound mind, do hereby leave said inheritance of all of our assets, our properties, investment holdings, and a savings account to: {Jesse Connor Thompson and co-inheritor Katherine Marie Thompson (McCullough)} All these assets and said properties are to be used at their own discretion and I give no inclusions or instructions on their uses. With the exception that the Fuller Mine and house that sits upon the 125 acres of property are to be deemed a Historical Site per attached instructions."

 

Upon hearing the reading the Will, Katie and I sat totally stunned. Her eyes began to well with tears as I held her close. My dad placed his hand on my shoulder, knowing I was filled with emotion as well. The Executor let us absorb what had just taken place, and then continued.

"Now... to John Thompson and Tami Thompson-Wilson; you might be wondering why you were asked to be here today. The reason you are here, is that you have rights to petition the Will if you so object to any part of it."

With an inquisitive stare, my father questioned the executor. "Why would we have any rights to petition the Will?"

"John, whenever a Will is drawn up we always run a background check on any and all living relatives who may have rights to the Will. We do this so these individuals can have an opportunity to contest the Will."

My dad probed further. "But I still don't understand. Tami and I were not related to the McAllister's."

"Well, about that. What I'm about to tell you may come as a shock to you-especially you, Jesse. But we found out through our research that Thomas Fuller Jr. aka Harold McAllister was actually related to you-he was Jesse's great uncle."

A look of shock ran across my face. "What? How could he have been my great uncle?"

"Well as you know, his father's name was Thomas A. Fuller. However, Thomas A. Fuller's real name was originally Thomas Aaron Thompson. He was your grandfather's brother."

"Oh my God, I can't believe this!" as I sat in total disbelief.

"You see Jesse..., Thomas Aaron Thompson used to live in Colorado with his parents and his brother, who was your grandfather. But for some reason he left Colorado and had his name officially changed to Thomas A. Fuller where he moved to California and founded this town."

My dad turned to me. "You know Jesse, he's right. I did have an uncle by the name of Thomas A. Thompson. But my father told me his brother left Colorado at an early age and was never seen again."

Katie's eyes lit-up with revelation. "Jess, don't you remember what Mr. McAllister told us? He told us that his father used to live in Colorado but that he didn't want to be in the shoe making business. Then he took his girlfriend Helen who became his wife, and they moved away. He probably changed his name because if you remember, Helen's father vowed to bring her back if he took her away. He must have changed his name so her father could never find them."

"You're right, I remember him telling us that. So Mr. Hodges..., you mean to tell me that Mr. McAllister knew all this time that I was his great nephew?"

"No Jesse, he just recently found that out when the Will was drawn up. It was just a coincidence that the two of you happened to cross paths with him and Emma. It wasn't until after we investigated into his past, that we traced his family tree and found he was your great uncle. Jesse..., my father was the original executor over Mr. McAllister's affairs. But when he got older, I took over and I got to know Tom very well. I came to know the story of how they changed their names to the McAllister's and all the reasons why. He also told me that you and Katie were the only ones to know their secret, and the great relationship you had with them. When he found out you were his blood relative, he broke down and cried like I have never seen before. Within the last fifteen years or so, you and Katie have been their lives. So when they found out you were actually related to them, they were filled with such joy and pride. You know Tom used to talk about the two of you all the time. He would say, 'Ron..., guess what those kids of ours have been up to now'. Then he would proudly explain whatever investigation or activities the two of you were involved in. He told me how honored he was to sit in the same row as your other relatives at your wedding. But it wasn't until about a year ago that he found out you were related to him."

"But we came down this past summer and we went to visit them. Why didn't he tell us then?"

"Jesse, if there is one thing you and Katie have to understand, is what you did in becoming their friends is so rare. Rarely do you see teens even say hi to old people, let alone be their close friends. But the thing that meant so much to them, is the two of you did it unconditionally. Meaning you did it out of the goodness of your hearts and not because you were obligated to be close to them. So when he found out you were his great nephew, he didn't want that to change. He did however, leave you and Katie a note that I will go ahead and read at this time."

 

Dear Jess and Katie;

If you are being read this letter, then Emma and I have passed on to be with the Lord. By now you must know something that hit me and Emma like a ton of bricks..., that you are actually a living relative to me. I don't know if it was what you call fate or just a strange coincidence of you coming into our lives. Since I am a God fearing man, I have to believe that somehow God had a hand in bringing us together.

In the years leading up to day the two of you first came to our doorstep, Emma and I led a fulfilled life, but we always felt like something was missing. However, when the two of you came into our lives, you filled that void which was missing. Emma and I always felt there was some sort of connection between us, but we could never figure out why. But now knowing what we know, it all makes sense that over the years we have come to love the two of you like our very own.

Katie..., you reminded me so much of Emma when she was young; adventurous and ready to meet life head on. Jesse..., you have no idea how much it meant to me that you would come to the house and we would have our talks. Thank you so much for that. I hope I was of some help to you coming from an 'old fogy' like me.

When the two of you were married, that was one of the most joyful moments in our lives and we were so happy for you. I think Emma used up a whole box of tissues that day. I know probably your parents were the proudest people in that church, but I tell you, Emma and I were right there behind them. Katie..., aside from Emma of course, you were the prettiest bride I have ever seen. Emma said your gown was just gorgeous and you looked like an angel.

After we found out you were my relative, Emma and I decided to modify our existing Will as we were now going to leave our entire inheritance to you. As it turned out, your father and Tami are also our relatives and it's a shame that we were not able to get to know them better. And although they were not named in this Will, I know how you and Katie are about giving. So therefore I have left it up to you to share what you have received with the family members of your choosing.

Katie...; Emma has a message for you. She said the china set in the hutch was a wedding gift from her mother, and to make sure to treat it as a family heirloom.

I have one more item to give to you, as the words have helped me and Emma to realize what this life is all about. As my father gave this to us, I now hand this down to you. Place this in a spot in your home to remember us by, and heed to the words that are written on it. Those words have helped me and Emma through the years to keep things in perspective when you have money. Always remember that it's not about the amount of riches you have, but it's "the simple things you share in life, that will stand the test of time..."

We love the two of you very much. Take care of those youngins of yours. You have two beautiful children. May God truly bless your lives in the years to come.

With all our love,

Thomas and Emma Fuller, aka Mr. and Mrs. Harold McAllister.

           

After he finished reading the note, the Executor handed us the item that Tom and Emma wanted us to have. It was wrapped like a gift and so I handed it to Katie to open. However, looking at the size and shape, we already knew what was going to be inside.

 

 

As we sat looking at the plaque, I pulled Katie close remembering the very first time we read those words. Words of encouragement to a young couple that was now being passed down to us. As I sat amazed at what had transpired, I now knew why I was feeling as I had. How this journey of my life had now come full circle, as this legacy was now being passed down to me.

 I started to think about the scripture that says how we go through the fire to refine us to make us pure and give us strength. Looking back at all the things Katie and I have been through, especially where we found treasures; I feel all those things were a testing ground in preparation for what was to come. Like the scripture says, "Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." (NIV) Had we not learned those lessons about money and riches, I don't think we could have handled this wealth we had been given. Thomas Fuller Sr. made the mistake by thinking that money could buy him happiness. As a result, it only turned to failure where he lost everything that was important to him; including his wife Helen. The lesson he learned was then passed down to Tom and Emma who started to go down that same path. Fortunately, they caught themselves before making the same mistake. And now us... We have learned many valuable lessons along this journey of ours, but there is one lesson that has carried us through the years. This lesson can be summed up by a simple scripture verse written on a bookmarker we found on that fateful day in that secret room. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (NIV)

Per the instruction of the Will, there was going to be a dedication ceremony of the Fuller Creek Mine to be declared a Historical Site. All the preparations had been made well in advance between Mr. McAllister and the Executor. At the time of their passing, it was published in our local newspaper that Mr. and Mrs. McAllister were really Tom and Emma Fuller and the whole story behind it. However, the passing of the inheritance to me and Katie, was kept a secret-and will always remain a secret.

 

On the day of the dedication ceremony, I gathered my family in our mini-van, and headed out to the grounds of the Fuller Mine. It was so amazing to see just how many people showed up for this ceremony and its grand opening. Before it commenced, I briefly spoke to Mr. Hodges as he let me know the order of how things were going to go. First the tour was going to start with the ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the front doors to the Fuller house. Then the tour would move on to many other points of interest on the grounds. After the crowd gathered near the front entrance, the head of the town council said a few words and then cut the ribbon. Everyone clapped as the doors were opened and we began to look at all the exhibits that were neatly placed in their appropriate places. Emma would have wanted it that way.

The tour then proceeded to the side of the house and over to where the water-well in the courtyard was located. Katie and I were told nothing about this part of the tour, so it was a surprise to us. When we were all gathered around the well, the tour guide turned to address the group.

"Ladies and gentleman..., I am about to unveil a plaque that sits upon a stone near the edge of this water-well. This plaque has been inscribed by Tom and Emma Fuller themselves. This particular site is the location of a buried treasure that was found on the premises some years back. This treasure chest was filled with solid gold nuggets from the Fuller Mine, and was worth approximately 1.2 million dollars. It was found by a couple of individuals who followed a series of clues they had found. The names of these individuals who found this treasure are to remain anonymous, but this plaque has been placed here in their honor. I will now unveil the inscribed plaque covering the location where the buried treasure was found."

As the plaque was uncovered, Katelyn and Connor squeezed their way to the front of us to see better. The inscription read;

 

We dedicate this special plaque to the ones we call the "Bobbsey Twins".

May this plaque signify your spirit of adventure in searching for life's treasures.

By your generosity and giving of earthly treasures, you have stored up many in heaven.

God Bless you both.

Tom and Emma Fuller.

 

When Katie saw what was written on the plaque, she immediately broke down in tears. Katelyn saw her crying and hugged her around her legs.

"Mommy, why are you crying? Are you sad?"

"Yes honey. The Fuller's were wonderful people, and I am very sad that they're gone."

Katelin looked up with her big bluish-green eyes. "Are they in heaven now?"

"Yes, they are."

"But they're not sad, right Mommy?"

"What do you mean?"

"Because in Sunday school our teacher told us that there are no tears in heaven. She told us that people who die are with Jesus now. So you see Mommy, you don't have to cry, because they are happy now."

Katie picked up our precious little daughter and held her close. She looked at me and smiled at our daughters telling words.

"You're right, honey; you're absolutely right. We should be happy for them. They lived a long fulfilling life here on earth and now they are in heaven with the Lord."

The tour guide then announced we would be making our way over to the Fuller Mine entrance and the unveiling of the Dedication Plaque. As the group of people settled in front of the plaque, I was filled with excitement to be a part of its unveiling. To me it represented that the Fullers would always be remembered for all they had done in saving this town. When everyone was ready, I stood with a sense of pride knowing I was a part of this lineage, going back to when my great, great uncle founded this town. As I stood ready to read the dedication, a sense of hope seemed to resonate throughout the crowd. It was one of taking chances on what life has to offer, and of the hope that if you pursue your dreams, they can in fact become reality. As the tour guide unveiled the Dedication Plaque, the crowd gave a rousing applause. I then began to read the words I had written in honor of those who had gone before me.

 

This is dedicated to all of those who dare to dream...

To those who use their imaginations when they are young, and who persevere to see those dreams become reality.

This is dedicated to those who see life as an adventure...

To those who follow a treasure map to a chest of lost gold, and to the young detective searching for clues to a passageway of unlimited possibilities.

This is dedicated to those who have faith in the unseen...

To those who look beyond what we can physically see, but have the faith and hope to seek after it anyway...

And finally..., this monument is hereby dedicated to Thomas A. Fuller. A man who dared to dream and who persevered to see his dream become a reality.

And to his son, Thomas Fuller Jr. aka Harold McAllister and his wife Emma, who poured their heart, soul, and money into this town to ensure its survival for future generations. So that others would have the opportunity to live in a place they love, with the ones they love. May the memory of their sacrifice and generosity to this town always be remembered...

 

After the dedication ceremony was over, Katie and I strolled hand-in-hand on the grounds of the Fuller Creek Mine. As I watched Connor and Katelyn run-off on an adventure of their own, it made me wonder what they would encounter in the coming years. Thomas Fuller Sr., passed down this legacy on to his son, Thomas Fuller Jr. In a strange twist of fate, this legacy was now being passed down to me, where Katie and I will do our best to make this town proud. So as I look ahead to the future in the coming years, I know that someday this legacy will be passed on to my children, and to the next generation to come...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The End...

 

You will be pleased to know, the sequel, Fuller Creek: The Next Generation is coming soon. In this sequel, you will follow the lives of Jess and Katie's children, Connor and Katelyn, as they cross paths with the Harden family who move to Fuller Creek. Watch this exciting sequel unfold with all the drama and adventure that you've come to expect. To find out more information on when the sequel is due to be released, go to the Bookstore Page under Upcoming Releases.