Today we're excited to spotlight My Father's Words by Patricia MacLachlan. Read on for more about Patricia and her book, plus an excerpt & giveaway!
Meet Patricia MacLachlan!
Declan O’Brien always had a gentle word to share, odd phrases he liked to repeat, and songs to sing while he played basketball. His favorite song was "Dona Nobis Pacem," “Grant Us Peace.” His family loved him deeply and always knew they were loved in return.
But a terrible accident one day changes their lives forever, and Fiona and Finn O’Brien are left without a father. Their mother is at a loss. What words are there to guide them through such overwhelming grief?
At the suggestion of their friend Luke, Fiona and Finn volunteer at an animal rescue shelter where they meet two sweet dogs who are in need of comfort, too. Perhaps with time, patience, and their father’s gentle words in their hearts, hope will spark once more.
CHAPTER 4 Emma
When I got up in the morning, my mother had already gone to class. Luke was sitting in the kitchen, eating cereal. Finn was next to him, eating toast and jam.
“Have you moved in?” I asked Luke. “In a way,” said Luke. “I called the dog shelter, and we’ll go today to volunteer. I told Finn.”
“I have my books,” said Finn. “To read to the dogs.”
I could tell he had a question to ask.
“Will this be fun?” he asked Luke.
Luke looked quickly at me. “I don’t know if it will be fun, Finn. But it will make some sad dog happier,” said Luke. Finn nodded.
What Luke said could have been said by my father.
Finn opened the book at the top of his pile.
“Do you think one of the dogs will like The Year at Maple Hill Farm?” he asked.
My father had given Finn that book for a long-ago birthday. It was Finn’s favorite. He loved the passing of seasons and how the animals lived. I couldn’t think of an answer.
But Luke had one.
“Yes. But mostly the dogs will like you,” he said. “Get a bag for your books. We have to go soon.” Finn ran upstairs.
“I haven’t had breakfast,” I said.
Luke handed me a piece of Finn’s toast and jam. I looked sideways at him, about to say something about his notes to Finn. But I didn’t. Those words belonged to them.
When we opened the door to the dog shelter we were surrounded by happy dogs. Little dogs ran out to be petted. A refined poodle looked over the counter.
“Thank you for coming!” said a woman. “I’m Martha, and some of these happy dogs are only here for a time while their families are on vacation. They miss them, but not too much! We board some dogs. We rescue some dogs.”
The poodle came out from behind the counter and walked up to Finn. He grinned.
“Ah, Jenny likes you. She is our calm and rather relaxed rescue dog. She has the run of the place. She doesn’t go up to everyone, though. I can tell you’ll be good with the dogs.”
She opened the door and we went into a room that was quiet.
“The dogs you will see in the rescue room don’t have homes anymore.”
There were two children sitting on pillows reading books or talking to dogs in their pens. “Penny is reading to Mindy,” said Martha. “And Joe is telling his own story to Marco.”
When Marco heard his name, he looked up and wagged his tail. We heard Penny’s soft voice.
“In the great green room There was a telephone And a red balloon
And a picture of—
The cow jumping over the moon.”
Several dogs came up to look at us.
There were soft beds in their pens, and water bowls and food dishes, stuffed toys, and chew bones.
“This is Betty. She likes people already. And Billy.”
“Are they all friendly?” asked Luke.
“Pretty much. Sometimes we put them together for dog company, and for walks. Except for one who doesn’t seem to respond to anyone as hard as we try.”
Finn sat down on a pillow in front of a pen.
“This one,” said Finn.
Inside was a medium-sized, smooth-coated brown dog, facing away from us, staring at the back wall.
Martha looked at us and shrugged.
“That’s Emma. Her owner died, and his relatives brought her here. They live far away and couldn’t take care of her. All she does is stare at the back wall. Her owner was a musician. He taught somewhere in town. That’s all I know.”
“I choose Emma,” said Finn.
I touched Martha’s arm and whispered.
“Finn’s father, our father, died recently.”
“Then he will know just how Emma feels,” she said. “What’s your brother’s name?”
“Finn, we’re going out to the office to set up a schedule. Emma may do better for you if there aren’t all of us here.”
Finn nodded and began reading in a soft voice.
My Father's Words
By: Patricia MacLachlan