Chapter 1 Summary
His name is Denver Moore and, except for answering a question or two, Miss Debbie is the first white woman with whom he has ever spoken. Even answering a simple question is a risk for him, since the last time he was foolish enough to speak to a white woman he was nearly killed.
When he was about sixteen years old, Moore was walking down the dirt road in front of the cotton plantation where he worked in Red River Parish, Louisiana. On the road he was traveling there were few trees, so he was quite visible as he was walking back from his auntie’s house.
He saw a white woman standing by her car, a blue Ford, maybe a 1951 model. She had on a hat and a skirt, so perhaps she had been to town; and she looked at Moore as if she were trying to figure out how to change a tire. The boy stopped and offered to help. The woman looked relieved and grateful as she accepted his offer; he asked her for a jack (she had one), but that was all the words they spoke.
Just as he fixed the tire, three white boys rode out of the woods on horses. As they approached the car, they could not see Moore working on the tire. At first, Moore did not move, thinking they might just pass on by; however, he did not want them to think he was hiding, so he slowly stood up.
These white boys were not much older than Moore, but they were not happy to see a black boy so close to one of their women. The white lady looked down at her shoes and said nothing. One of the boys on horseback said he intended to teach Moore a lesson and threw a grass rope around his neck as if roping a calf; as it tightened around his neck, Moore flushed with fear.
Moore does not ask anyone for sympathy regarding this event because he was only one of many to endure such things. It is just how things were in Louisiana at that time, and in Mississippi, too. A few years after Moore’s incident, a black man named Emmett Till whistled at a white woman and was beaten...
(The entire section is 708 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
Like all elementary school students in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1952, Ron Hall brings his urine sample to school so public health workers can screen students for deadly diseases. Unfortunately, Hall took his sample to his second-grade teacher rather than to the school nurse.
Miss Poe is the “meanest and ugliest” teacher Hall ever had, and after he makes this simple mistake she humiliates him in front of the entire class. He has to spend thirty minutes with his nose in a circle she draws on the brick wall of the building—a circle three inches higher than where it should be if he were standing flat-footed. After five minutes, his eyes cross; after fifteen minutes, his toes and calves cramp terribly; and after twenty minutes, his tears have washed the chalk circle off the wall.
Hall loathed Miss Poe for many years but does not think of her until 1978 when one day he is cruising down the streets of Fort Worth in his Mercedes convertible. Heading toward the airport, he is admitted through the security gates at Meacham Airfield as if he were a “rock star.” He would love for Miss Poe, several of his former girlfriends, and his entire graduating class (Haltom High, 1968) to see him at that moment. He has risen above his middle-class upbringing and thinks quite highly of himself that day.
Hall has three Georgia O’Keeffe paintings with him and is flying them from their previous owner in Texas to their new owner in New York, who paid a million dollars for them. Hall’s commission for brokering the transaction is one hundred thousand dollars, and the new owner of the paintings sent a sumptuous private jet for Hall and the artworks. As the plane circles the city on its way to New York, Hall is thankful that Fort Worth city planners have been systematically “pushing the bums to the other side of the tracks.” He is disgusted at being panhandled every day as he goes to work.
Debbie, Hall’s wife, does not know...
(The entire section is 788 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
Denver Moore does not know how he got his name, nor does he know much about his mother. She was too young to take care of her child and did the best thing for him and gave him to her parents, PawPaw and Big Mama. Such things are not uncommon among the colored plantation workers.
Much of this behavior stems from dire poverty among sharecroppers. The plantation owners give each sharecropper cotton seeds, fertilizer, a mule, and supplies (food and clothing) to get through the year, but none of it is free. The plantation owner (“the Man”) offers the supplies on credit, but he owns the store. After working the fields from seed to picked cotton, croppers bring their product to the Man and settle up their accounts.
The croppers are promised a reasonable equitable split, but the cost of their supplies always manages to equal their share of their crops. The plantation owner reads the scales and does the math because he is literate; most croppers cannot read. In the end, the croppers always owe the owners, and there is nothing to do but spend another year working to pay off the debt. The truth is that the Man does not own the land, he owns the people.
When Moore was little, he heard the adults talk about a man named Roosevelt who lived in a white house and was trying to make things better for colored people; unfortunately, many white people including many sheriffs, did not want anything to change. Too many men just left, leaving their families behind them, many ashamed that they could not provide more for their families.
Moore and his older brother Thurman live with their grandparents; their older sister Hershalee is grown and lives down the road. Big Mama is Moore’s paternal grandmother and they all live in a decrepit shack without glass in the windows and with holes in the floor. She is a big woman in every way and makes her dresses from flour sacks; it takes seven or eight of them. Big Mama is...
(The entire section is 731 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
Ron Hall is from a lower middle class family in ugly, poor Haltom City, Texas. His father, Earl, who was raised by a single mother and two old-maid aunts, was a fun-loving man who worked for Coca-Cola for forty years; however, sometime when Hall was young, Earl “crawled into a whiskey bottle” and did not recover until Hall was grown.
Hall’s mother, Tommye, was a farm girl who made all their clothes, baked cookies, and cheered at Little League games. As a child, she picked cotton on the family land and every summer, Hall and his brother John would stay on the farm. Though the farm is quite rustic, they prefer it to having to hunt their father down in a seedy bar.
MawMaw keeps a garden and works hard in a house that did not have indoor plumbing for many years; Granddaddy “works like a mule and is a true redneck.” He is the hardest-working man Hall ever knew. After he returned from the Great War, Granddaddy figured out a way to support his wife and four kids while managing a small farm.
The Hall brothers spend most days outside helping their grandfather in the field; otherwise, they generally got in trouble—for instance, breaking a car windshield while throwing peaches. When Granddaddy got home, he cut a switch and “wore them out,” but he was also a man who liked to play pranks.
One day Granddaddy pays John fifty cents to kiss Old Kildee, a shriveled, toothless black shoeshiner who works in the barber shop. John happily does it, both for the money and because everyone loves Old Kildee. He was, and still is, the only black person to be buried in the cemetery in Blooming Grove, Texas. The civil rights movement that swept the nation in the 1960s skipped right over this parched Texas city.
In the 1950s, the Southern social order is clear and obvious, but as a young white boy, Hall never thinks about it. Where he lives, white families live in one place and black families live in their own section of town near the cotton...
(The entire section is 814 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
It does not take long for Big Mama’s house to turn into a pile of burning embers, and Denver Moore sits next to it and wonders why God took away the person he loved the most. Soon someone comes to take him and his brother Thurman to live in Grand Bayou with BB, their father. Moore did not know him very well, and even now he does not know what BB did for a living. Perhaps he worked for the railroad, since he made enough money to buy a two-door Pontiac.
BB is a big man who keeps three or four women “on a string at the same time.” He never goes to church because some of his women are married and they are at church with their husbands on Sundays. Instead, he and his boys attend church like they would a drive-in movie....
(The entire section is 789 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Hall spends every summer with Granddaddy and MawMaw until 1963 when he enrolls at East Tennessee State, the cheapest college in Texas. At that point in his life, Hall is consumed with finding and pursuing girls; however, most of the girls at his college are poor farm girls. He and his best buddy Scoot Cheney hear that Texas Christian University, a mere ninety miles away, is replete with rich girls.
Hall has never been to TCU, but in his fantasies the rich girls all look like the women in the Sears catalog, which is the closest he has been to a pretty girl. Later Hall discovers that this fantasy is pretty close to the truth, but his “first encounter with such a delicious creature” is marred by a wardrobe disaster....
(The entire section is 536 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Denver Moore gets his first cotton sack when he is seven or eight. Picking cotton in the hot sun is tough, and the flies and mosquitoes are fierce on the bayou. Every day the croppers leave home just as the sky is beginning to turn pink but the stars are still visible. Moore works all morning, plucking four or five pieces of cotton out of each boll. When the open bolls get hard, his hands become chapped and raw. While the cotton is light and soft, the bulk gets heavy very quickly. The Man says he must have twenty pounds of cotton in his sack, no matter what.
Moore meets Bobby, a white boy, walking one day near the store. Bobby asks Moore where he lives and if he wants to ride bikes. The request causes Moore to stop; all...
(The entire section is 656 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
On November 22, 1963, Ron Hall puts on his store-bought madras shirt, khaki pants, and penny loafers. He, Cheney, and two other friends load into Hall’s 1961 four-door, baby-blue Chevy Biscayne for their second adventure with sorority girls. It is Homecoming at TCU, and the car radio is blaring Elvis as they travel.
There is no interstate, so Hall is driving through downtown Dallas when the traffic suddenly slows to a standstill. Hall pulls his car up next to the School Book Depository; only the white sedan in front of him is keeping him from moving onto the freeway. The white sedan finally moves ahead, but just as Hall is ready to drive through the intersection, a policeman steps into his path and waves his arms for...
(The entire section is 571 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Every Sunday, a field hand driving a mule wagon winds through the plantation roads and picks up anyone who wants to go to church. Every plantation has a church for its black workers, and this is where they do most of their socializing. Denver Moore’s church is a little, unpainted clapboard building with a tin roof that has holes peppered all over it. The preacher is Brother Brown, and he is a field hand just like them. Denver Moore learns a lot of scripture from listening to him, mostly because Brown preaches the same sermon every week for months.
His sermon lately has been about the evils of lust, and he repeats the same verses every week. When people start to complain and ask when he is going to change his sermon,...
(The entire section is 490 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Things have changed. Uncle James is dead and Aunt Etha has moved away; the last time Moore saw her, she was crying. He and Thurman have been separated, and Moore is now living on the same plantation as his sister, Hershalee, wondering why God has taken everyone he loves away from him. Moore is thirteen or fourteen years old; he is not sure because he keeps no calendar. When one works on a plantation, there is no need even for a clock because “there ain’t nowhere you got to be at ‘cept where you’re at.”
Moore misses Bobby. The new Man only has daughters Moore’s age, and Moore is certainly not able to play with them. When white children get older, they spend their days in school; but most black children do not...
(The entire section is 599 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
The first time Ron Hall sees Deborah, he begins plotting how to steal her "for his fraternity." Hall is now a sophomore at TCU and on academic probation. Deborah is a sophomore on an academic scholarship and the “sweetheart” of his rival fraternity; Hall is determined to make her a Sigma Chi sweetheart.
Deborah grew up in a dusty, tumbleweed town in West Texas and has two sisters. Gretchen is a beauty pageant girl and Daphene is Deborah’s twin and total opposite. Deborah is a quiet girl with a voice like a Southern aristocrat, and it is her voice which first captivates Hall.
Sigma Chi is having an informal party, but Hall does not have a date. Hall’s friend Glenn is the “guy everybody loves,” and...
(The entire section is 804 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
For the first six years of their marriage, the Halls regularly attend a Methodist church, more out of habit than real piety. In 1973, some friends who attend a Bible church, including Dan McCoy, invite the Halls to attend a six-week discussion group in their home. McCoy is a former TCU football player and an imposing figure, so Hall is afraid to say no to his invitation. Later the Halls discover that their friends saw them as unsaved, lost, and unbelieving; however, the unsuspecting couple attends the discussion group at the home of McCoy and his wife, Patt.
The "small" group is actually twenty couples, ten “saved” and ten “saved nots.” No one touches any of the desserts Patt made until after the discussion, and...
(The entire section is 577 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
When he is eighteen or nineteen, Denver Moore finally feels like he has become a man: he gets his own shack. The shack sits under the shade of a sycamore tree and has two chairs, a table, a bed, a potbellied stove, and an outhouse—and they are all his. But in reality, of course, they all belong to the Man, and so does Moore.
In Red River Parish, the sharecroppers are the poorest. They cannot read or write and work tirelessly for nothing more than a place to live and some food. They are slaves. It is true that they get paid by the Man, but the croppers always owe more than they make. The Man does not even weigh the cotton any more, but everyone understands that the sharecroppers are always indebted to the Man....
(The entire section is 647 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
When Ron Hall is thirty-two, he buys a $275,000 house in an upscale section of Fort Worth and his Mercedes sits proudly in the driveway. His art business is thriving, and the Halls begin to live a high-society life. As Hall builds his business, Deborah plays the role of his supportive wife.
They attend expensive charity events, spending outrageous sums on Deborah’s dresses and the events themselves, as well as the donations Hall makes in paintings or gift certificates; he hopes his generosity will generate some business. Deborah thinks it would be better just to write a check directly to the charities, as the money is typically wasted on things that do not matter and Hall has not seen any business profits from his...
(The entire section is 623 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
The first stop the train makes is Dallas and Denver Moore, who has never left Red River Parish, is overwhelmed and intimidated. When the police arrive, Moore and the hobo hop another train until Moore decides to stay in Fort Worth. After a few years there, he spends several years in Los Angeles where he lives with a woman and gets in trouble with the law before going back to Fort Worth.
Though he tries to find work, Moore has no marketable skill and gets nothing more than occasional odd jobs. The only reason he survives is because Fort Worth is active in caring for the homeless and many Christian people are willing to offer a bit of help. Begging with a cup on a street corner is not the only way to earn a little money....
(The entire section is 552 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Ron Hall ends his affair with the Beverly Hills artist only to begin another affair—with his wife. After several months of counseling, the couple is working hard to reconnect. Though Hall still works hard at his art business, he travels less, spends more time with Deborah and their children, and takes spiritual matters more seriously. While Deborah still volunteers and seeks God, she also commits time to the things which are important to her husband.
One of the things which matters most to Hall is their three hundred and fifty-acre ranch, Rocky Top, which they bought in 1990. It is set on a three-hundred-foot mesa overlooking the shimmering Brazos River, and it becomes a refuge for the family. It is decorated in...
(The entire section is 505 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
Homeless people have a code of conduct by which they live. If a man has a tin of Vienna sausages and there are five others around, he gives each man one; the same is true of his beer, whiskey, and drugs, for the next day he might be the one who wants something. One of Denver Moore’s friends lives in his car, a gold Ford Galaxy 500. When his friend has to run from the law, he asks Moore to watch over his car. Moore is careful with it, and since his friend lived in it, he does, too. The car is big enough for more than one person to sleep, so he begins to rent out two spaces in the backseat for three dollars a night. It is a terrific business for Moore until the police confiscate the car.
People who live in...
(The entire section is 798 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
When Deborah Hall was six years old she started a fire and nearly burned down an oil-camp field; later she dumped a bucketful of bullfrogs she collected onto the laps of her mother’s guests. Her husband knows it is not realistic to expect the fearless Deborah to be afraid of a few bums in a littered alleyway. Her only real fear is missing the call of God, so when she feels called to work at Union Gospel Mission, she does it. Hall does not feel the same call to the mission, but he is called to be a good husband so he goes.
The Union Gospel Mission sits just on the edge of the beautifully restored downtown Fort Worth, a model of revitalization financed by the billionaires who loved their city. Modern-looking...
(The entire section is 798 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
Denver Moore thinks everything at the mission is going well until the smiling white couple start serving in the dining halls on Tuesdays. Every week, he feels the woman focus in on him, and when he goes through line she smiles hugely at him and asks his name and how he is doing—“attackin him for no particular reason.” Moore does his best to stay away from her.
The woman corners him every week, pokes her bony finger in his face, and tells him he is not a bad man. She tells him God has a calling for his life; Moore tells her not to bother him because he is a mean man. Deborah insists Moore is not a mean man and does not want to hear him say that again. Moore thinks she is “gettin kinda smart” with him, and it...
(The entire section is 561 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
Ron Hall notices a change in his heart after he has been working at the mission for several months. His heart has been warm on the outside but still a bit cool in the middle; but he is reasonably certain something has happened when he wakes up on a Tuesday, Mission Day, and feels the same chill of excitement as he does when he wakes up on a Saturday morning at Rocky Top.
Hall is beginning to believe God did call him as well as Deborah to the mission. Sometimes, if he has nothing pressing on his calendar, he stops in to the mission. Now, when the “fellows in the hood” see Hall’s truck coming through the tunnel, they slip their liquor bottles wrapped in brown paper bags behind their backs and wave at him as if he is...
(The entire section is 799 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
Denver Moore has been watching the couple he calls Mr. and Mrs. Tuesday. They are not like the holiday volunteers; they come every week, they talk to the homeless people, and they do not seem to be afraid of them. The Halls talk to the homeless as if they are intelligent, and Moore is beginning to think that Mr. and Mrs. Tuesday are trying to do some real good and not just trying to make themselves feel better about being rich.
Because of that, when the Halls want to take people to the Caravan for a night of music, Moore is interested. Plenty of folks at the mission respect Moore, so he thinks his going might encourage some of the others to go, as well. Besides, he used to live downtown before the millionaires took...
(The entire section is 504 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
As soon as he drops the men off at the mission, Hall calls Deborah to tell her the news: Moore apologized for always running away and they are going to breakfast in the morning. Deborah is thrilled, and that night they pray for God to show them how to reach Moore and let him know they care about him. Hall warns Deborah not to get her hopes too high.
At 8:30, Moore is waiting for Hall outside the mission, again neatly dressed in khaki pants and a white, button-down shirt. They exchange very little small talk on the drive to the Cactus Flower Café. First comes the food and next comes a lesson in patience. Hall is nearly finished eating before Moore ever takes his first bite. It takes Moore an hour to eat two eggs and...
(The entire section is 803 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
Denver Moore does not like the fact that Ron Hall has asked to be his friend. Of course he wonders why a man like Hall wants to be friends with a man like him, and he tries to imagine what Hall wants from him. In his world, everybody wants something, and Moore wants to know why Hall picked him. Most of all, Moore wants to know why he has to be this white man’s friend.
By this time in his life, Moore is covered by “layers of street” so thick it is hard for anyone to get past them. Some homeless people have a lot of friends, but Moore has never allowed anyone to get that close. It is not that he is worried about getting hurt; for Moore, being a friend is a weighty commitment. In a way,...
(The entire section is 352 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
Hall keeps thinking about Moore’s offer of friendship: if he is looking for a real friend, Moore will be one forever. Hall had never heard a more profound or moving offer of friendship, and he was humbled. He made Moore a simple promise in return: if Moore will be his friend, he promises not to catch and release. They shook hands, stood up, and hugged.
Now the two men spend time together regularly. Several times a week they go to a museum, a coffee shop, or a café. Moore is still shy, but as he comes through the serving line, Deborah’s eyes shine at the progress she sees. The Halls now spend more than just Tuesdays at the mission. Deborah works with the women and children while Hall takes Moore on their outings. If...
(The entire section is 709 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
Moore and Hall are now spending a lot of time together. Moore takes Hall to the hood to “show him what’s what,” and Hall takes Moore to museums, restaurants, and cafes. Moore learns many things on these trips, like the difference between a taco and an enchilada and a restaurant and a café (the former has cloth napkins, the latter uses paper napkins). The first time Moore was in a restaurant with Hall he could not find his fork for a long time, until he saw Hall unroll the red towel; when Hall caught him gawking, he explained that the towel is a napkin. Moore is stunned, wondering who was going to wash them all.
Now Moore talks more with Miss Debbie, too. He does not walk away when he sees her coming, and when she...
(The entire section is 531 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
Sister Bettie is someone from whom Deborah Hall can learn sacrificial, fearless service far beyond what she is now doing at the mission. Deborah wants to share the spiritual experience with her best friend, Mary Ellen Davenport, who is a mighty woman of prayer.
Davenport, a registered nurse, and her husband, a physician, moved to Fort Worth and became friends with the Halls in 1980. The Davenports were friends of friends, but Deborah knew of them because she was part of a group which was praying for Mary Ellen’s difficult delivery of triplets. Some other friends asked to bring the Davenports with them to a July Fourth swim party at the Halls’. When the Davenports arrived at the Halls, Mary Ellen refused to...
(The entire section is 736 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
Miss Debbie and Miss Mary Ellen start asking Moore to sing in their chapel service, and he would do it if they were smart enough to catch him. Moore would sing some spirituals which he keeps locked in his heart from his time on the plantation, and he would sing some songs he has made up on his own. He also knows plenty of Scripture.
Now Miss Debbie is getting bossy again and trying to organize something she calls a “retreat.” She and some of her Christian friends are going to go up into the woods to “hear from God.” Whenever she sees him, Miss Debbie tells Moore that she has been praying and God has told her that he should go on the retreat.
Moore asks some of the men at the mission of they know what...
(The entire section is 599 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
Hall’s art business is thriving. Clients are approaching Hall and his partners, so they do not have to seek them out. Hall’s clientele is an elite group who is interested only in the finest works of art. Even so, Hall receives an amazing phone call in the fall of 1998.
A large Canadian real estate development firm has purchased a thirty-six-story bank building in down town Fort Worth; the purchase includes “Eagle,” a rare forty-foot sculpture by Alexander Calder. The statue is currently embedded in eighteen inches of concrete in the plaza outside the bank building, a spot which is the heart of the city. While the citizens of Fort Worth have always thought of the sculpture as being in the public domain, the...
(The entire section is 653 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
Certain days in life are memorable, and April 1, 1999, will become an unforgettable day for the Halls because it flings them down a path they could never have foreseen. Deborah goes to her exercise class and then to her annual physical. Every year she goes in, gets the routine pronouncement of good health, and makes her appointment for the following year; and she goes to that appointment without fail.
Hall goes to his office and looks forward to his lunch date with his daughter Regan. Though Regan has gotten some education in the arts and now works in her father’s gallery, she does not enjoy it. Their son, Carson, is a senior at TCU and is also living at home, and Deborah is enjoying having both her children around...
(The entire section is 594 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary
Mary Ellen Davenport is the one who told Moore about Miss Debbie. When Davenport arrives alone to conduct the Bible study, Moore notices that Miss Debbie is not there and asks where she is. Davenport puts her hand on Moore’s shoulder and tells him she has some bad news. Miss Debbie has been to the doctor and has discovered that she has cancer.
When Moore hears the word cancer, he can hardly believe it. Miss Debbie never looked or acted anything but healthy, and she came to the mission two or three times a week, feeding people at the Lot and leading a Bible study. She seemed to be in perfect health.
The first thing Moore knows is that God is going to heal Miss Debbie; the second thing he knows is...
(The entire section is 494 words.)
Chapter 31 Summary
Deborah’s next surgery is scheduled three days later, and the entire Hall family retreats to Rocky Top to spend those three days praying and thinking together as a family. For Hall, their oasis is less of a retreat and more of a war room.
Hall tells Deborah that this battle is likely to take a year, and then they will celebrate their victory with a parade, like soldiers returning victoriously from war. In that year, they will experience tears, pain, and fears; however, he reminds her that pain makes life fuller and richer. Moore’s Aunt Etha always told him that good medicine always tastes bad.
Hall is confident that the right medicine for his wife’s cancer exists, and he makes it his mission to find...
(The entire section is 735 words.)
Chapter 32 Summary
After four days, Deborah’s hospital room looks like a florist’s shop. When the flowers start overflowing into the hallway, the nurses say the blooms have to go. Deborah insists that they be taken to the mission, but this might cause some problems as they learned earlier that year.
Deborah had brought some flower arrangements to the mission to decorate the tables in the dining hall. Both Shisler, the director, and Chef Jim vetoed the idea, concerned that certain parts of the arrangements (such as any wires) might be used as weapons. The idea of wires used as weapons was foreign to the naïve Halls. Now Hall and his son Carson take two truckloads of flowers to the mission, hoping the mission management might have a...
(The entire section is 481 words.)
Chapter 33 Summary
Moore knows he could pray in his bed, but he feels as if he is keeping watch and he does not want to fall asleep like the disciples did in the garden with Jesus. He could also pray in the chapel, but he does not want anyone to interrupt him and break his concentration. Moore knows no one will interrupt him at the dumpster, so that is where he keeps vigil for Miss Debbie every night.
Moore sits on the ground with his back propped against a brick wall and looks up at the dark sky and talks to God about Miss Debbie. He always asks God to heal her, but he also asks Him why this has happened to a woman who has done nothing but be His faithful servant. She visits the sick, feeds the hungry, and invites strangers into her...
(The entire section is 407 words.)
Chapter 34 Summary
Deborah stays in the hospital for a week. A week after that, the house they had been renting sold, but their new home is not going to be ready for several more weeks. A month earlier, this would have been an upsetting thing for Deborah, but if she does not defeat her cancer, she will have no need at all for an earthly home.
Nevertheless, the Halls have to live somewhere, so for the next two months the Halls live with the Davenports. Nine people live in one house: the four adults, the four Davenport kids, and Daphene, Deborah’s twin sister and constant companion. Though the two families had been close before, this time together brings them even closer. Food from church friends pours in every day, sometimes for as many...
(The entire section is 731 words.)
Chapter 35 Summary
Deborah decides that Moore needs to get a driver’s license because she feels bad that her cancer is keeping Moore from seeing them more often. If he had a license, Moore could be more involved with the things the Halls are doing rather than being dependent on someone finding him and getting him.
Though he would like to be able to drive, Moore tells Hall that he does not have a clean record. He has done some investigating, and he tells Hall his record does come up in the Department of Safety’s database: disorderly conduct, some unpaid tickets, and a marijuana possession charge. The last is the one which will keep Moore from getting a license. Because Moore wants to clear his name, he and Hall agree that he needs to...
(The entire section is 783 words.)
Chapter 36 Summary
Moore is not a thief and he is not a liar, but Hall does not know that; and Moore does not understand why Hall has entrusted him with so much. Though Moore knows he can figure out how to get to his destination in Colorado, he cannot figure out why a rich white man would give him his cash, his truck, and all of his daughter’s belongings—and then expect a man who cannot read or write to travel a thousand miles to a place he has never been, deliver the goods, and then bring the truck back home. No matter how Moore thinks about it, what Hall has done makes no sense. Though Hall is a smart man, doing what he just did takes faith.
Moore has never had more than twenty or thirty dollars of his own in his pocket at one time...
(The entire section is 567 words.)
Chapter 37 Summary
When Moore does not arrive for his assigned meeting with Regan, Hall loses his faith. He considers calling the highway patrol to see if any accidents have been reported; however, he can only imagine the laughter at the other end of the line when he explains how he let someone take his money, his truck, and his daughter’s belongings. Plus, Moore has crossed three states and Hall does not know where to ask anyone to look for him.
Hall is upset that Moore has all of the numbers to reach him yet has not contacted him in two days. Now he thinks about how wide Moore’s eyes got when Hall handed him the seven hundred dollars, an amount that must have seemed like a small fortune to the homeless man. Hall remembers a lecture...
(The entire section is 298 words.)
Chapter 38 Summary
Late the next day, the Halls’ doorbell rings. It is Moore and he is standing on the porch grinning widely. In the driveway behind him is Hall’s freshly washed and waxed truck. They all sit down at the kitchen table so Moore can tell his story from the past few days. Moore finishes by saying that Hall has more faith than any man he has ever known. Though the journey was not entirely smooth, Moore knew he could not disappoint his friend. Now he hands Hall almost four hundred dollars, all wadded up in his hand.
When Hall asks why there is so much money left over, Moore explains that he slept in the truck every night and ate at McDonald’s and 7-Eleven. Hall had expected that most of the seven hundred dollars he sent...
(The entire section is 314 words.)
Chapter 39 Summary
Between the months of May and November, the Halls feel as if they are wearing ruts in the road between their house in the suburbs and the chemotherapy clinic. Near Thanksgiving, Deborah gets a merciful two-week respite from all of her treatments.
The Halls spend every Thanksgiving at Rocky Top, and they do the same this year. Hall gets up early on Thanksgiving morning and goes hunting; though he sees a nice buck, he is not in the mood to kill it. Deborah prepares a grand meal, a feast for about twenty-five friends and family. Moore is there, for he is now considered part of the Hall family. The chemotherapy has been successful in shrinking the tumors, and during this break Deborah has gained a few pounds and regained...
(The entire section is 249 words.)
Chapter 40 Summary
Unfortunately, the Halls’ joy is short-lived. The cancer has been lying in wait and by the end of January it is back even stronger. Deborah’s doctors consider kidney surgery again in March, but it is too soon after her last surgery. More chemotherapy is not working; in fact, it seems to be feeding the tumors.
Moore is driving regularly now in a car he calls “manna” because he says it fell from heaven, though it was actually given to him by the Davenports. Moore stops to visit at the Halls regularly now, and on every visit Hall learns from Moore’s wisdom. One day Moore asks Hall what God said when He finished creating the world and everything in it. Hall answers accurately that God said, “It is good.”...
(The entire section is 803 words.)
Chapter 41 Summary
When Scott Walker asks to go along with Moore to visit Ballantine, Moore says yes but wonders if he will react as Hall did when he saw the old man and escaped as quickly as possible. Since then, Moore has been visiting Ballantine more regularly and keeping him and his room from “gettin so nasty,” so Walker will not probably be as repulsed as Hall was.
Walker is nice to Ballantine, telling the old man his name and making some small talk. Soon, though, Walker tells Ballantine that he would like to bless him and asks what he can bring him. Ballantine’s answer is the same as always: cigarettes and Ensure. Moore and Walker go to the drugstore, but Walker will not buy any cigarettes. He tells Moore it feels as if he is...
(The entire section is 494 words.)
Chapter 42 Summary
It has been a little more than a year since Deborah learned she had cancer. On her worst days, when the doctors give her no hope, she lies in bed or spends her precious energy vomiting or “fighting through searing pain.” The worse she get, the more beautiful she becomes to Hall. Deborah always tries to divert attention from herself, and when she is able she visits sick friends to pray with them.
If Deborah has ever thought she was dying, she has never spoken those words to Hall; they talk about living, instead. They discuss their dreams for their children, their marriage, and their city. Deborah cuts pictures from magazines of wedding cakes and flower arrangements for her children’s weddings, though neither is...
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapter 43 Summary
Dozens of friends are searching everywhere for any possible cure for Deborah’s cancer. The Halls learn of a recently approved chemotherapy drug called CPT-11, and they travel to the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio. Hall tries to make the journey and the stay comfortable for her, but nothing is able to distract her from the reason they are here.
Deborah and Daphene were born in San Antonio, and they were the first Rh-positive twins born with an Rh-negative mother. The babies had to have blood transfusions, a risky procedure back then, and now Deborah is back in San Antonio for another risky procedure. Finally, tears well in her eyes as she tells Hall that she does not want to die here. Though Hall...
(The entire section is 519 words.)
Chapter 44 Summary
Carson Hall calls Moore and tells him about Deborah, and Moore immediately moves his prayer vigil to the hall outside her hospital room door. When he peeks through the window, Moore sees family members and friends who have come to visit; he also sees Hall, many times with his head in his hands. It is clear to Moore that Hall is hurting, but he sees something else in Hall’s face that bothers him. It is obvious to Moore than Hall is mad, and Moore knows exactly with Whom he is angry.
Whenever anyone leaves Miss Debbie’s room, Moore hugs them goodbye, and it is not until midnight that the last visitor leaves. When Hall comes into the hallway, Moore asks to speak to him alone. Moore knows how Hall is feeling—the same...
(The entire section is 511 words.)
Chapter 45 Summary
When Hall saw Moore in the hallway outside of Deborah’s hospital room, he was still in a daze and does not remember everything he said, but he does remember Moore’s statement that Deborah will not die until she has done what God put her here to do. He is thankful even for that bit of hope since his faith is nearly gone.
When Hall goes back into the room, his kids are sleeping fitfully in recliners and he maneuvers through Deborah’s IV lines and pulls her close. As they lie face to face, Moore feels the warm trickle of her tears and she whispers to him that she does not want to die. For a moment, grief cripples Hall, but when he can speak he tells her he does not want her to die either.
The next morning...
(The entire section is 429 words.)
Chapter 46 Summary
Eleven days before the Halls’ thirty-first wedding anniversary, on October 14, Deborah leaves the hospital. On the drive home, she notices and appreciates the sights and smells of autumn. Later the four Halls sit in Deborah’s room and pour over the memory books Deborah had made so meticulously over the years. Hall and the kids had often made fun of Deborah for painstakingly making stacks of these books chronicling her family’s life, but she had not made them for then. She captured those memories for a time like now, when her family can sit, go back in time, and remember. The pictures of their lives have them all laughing and crying as they sit on the big, four-poster bed.
A few days later, Deborah begins...
(The entire section is 597 words.)
Chapter 47 Summary
The Halls had prayed that Deborah would live to see their thirty-first wedding anniversary; though her breathing is hitched and shallow, she is clinging to life and they wake up together on that day. Hall whispers their morning greeting in her ear: “We woke up.” Five days earlier, Deborah had fallen silent, and she does not speak now. Now Hall talks for both of them.
He reads to her from Proverbs 31, the chapter about an “excellent wife,” and reminds her about how they first met. She cannot speak but she hears him and tears trickle from her eyes. That afternoon the hospice doctor says Deborah will not live through the day; however, Hall chooses not to believe him. He chooses to believe that God would not be...
(The entire section is 794 words.)
Chapter 48 Summary
On November 1, the hospice staff is shocked and amazed that Deborah is still alive. They no longer make predictions about her demise; instead, they discuss the fact that books on dying should be edited to include the possibility of people like Deborah who, when summoned by death, muster the strength to “reschedule and politely close the door.”
Texas has been in a draught, but now it is raining. For a moment Hall imagines it is the angels crying, but then he bitterly remembers that God is getting His way if Deborah dies. At noon, Deborah’s body begins to convulse, and within seconds she is experiencing violent tremors throughout her body. Her face is contorted in pain and Hall jumps onto the bed and “tries to...
(The entire section is 797 words.)
Chapter 49 Summary
Though Moore has shed many tears for Miss Debbie during his vigils by the dumpster, he had never cried in front of Hall; however, this time he cannot help it. He knows everything that can be done for Miss Debbie has been done by the doctors and by Hall. Now God has told Moore that it is finally time for Miss Debbie to go home to Heaven to be with the Lord. Nevertheless, Moore’s grief spills out in tears before he can control them.
He tries to catch his tears with the back of his fingers as he sees Carson and Hall looking at him in surprise and then giving their attention to their coffee. That is when Moore gets up and heads for Miss Debbie’s room, He had not planned to do that, but he feels God tug on his heart and...
(The entire section is 547 words.)
Chapter 50 Summary
Hall no longer sleeps, though he lies next to Deborah through the night. He watches the woman beside him struggle to breathe, sometimes stop breathing; and he watches the minutes tick by on the clock, “eating up what remains of the life they have built.” At dawn, thunder rumbles and it begins to rain.
Hall’s New York business partner Michael Altman is coming to see Deborah, though Hall tried to discourage him and others from visiting these past few weeks, as he wants her friends to remember the vital, beautiful woman she was rather than the gaunt spectacle she has become. Altman insisted and since the Halls are godparents to Michael’s son Jack, Hall relented. Altman is Jewish but not particularly religious; he...
(The entire section is 573 words.)
Chapter 51 Summary
Regan and Carson insist that their father leave their mother’s side to get a couple of hours of sleep. At ten o’clock, Hall traces his wife’s face with his fingertips and kisses her forehead, afraid to leave for fear he will never see her alive again. Daphene will keep the vigil tonight.
Less than fifteen minutes after Hall leaves Deborah’s room, Daphene runs upstairs in a panic. She tells Hall to come quickly because Deborah has stopped breathing. For nineteen months, Hall had rarely let Deborah out of his sight, and for the last three weeks he had rarely left her side. Hall had been with Deborah for thirty-one years and seven days of living, but Daphene had come into the world with Deborah fifty-five years ago...
(The entire section is 412 words.)
Chapter 52 Summary
Three days later, the Halls bury Deborah in a simple pine casket on a quiet hill at Rocky Top, just as she requested. The morning seemed to be insulting Deborah as the wind blows sheets of rain in the middle of a thunderstorm. The bitter weather matches the bitterness seething in Hall’s heart. Hall believes that though he may be under some kind of divine punishment, Deborah deserves better treatment than this.
The burial spot had always been one of Deborah’s favorite places on the ranch, and she especially loved the natural gazebo created by an enormous flat rock under the shade of a leaning oak tree. It is the perfect place for prayer and solitude.
When the three remaining Halls drive up the...
(The entire section is 410 words.)
Chapter 53 Summary
When Moore helps lower Miss Debbie’s casket into the ground, he knows it contains nothing but her body; he still feels his heart sinking into the hole with her. Though he does not doubt that God has a plan and a reason for taking her, Moore does not understand why He had to take such a beautiful life while the rest of the world is still crawling with criminals and people like him who have never done anyone much good.
Once the casket is lowered, Moore and several other men start shoveling dirt into the hole. Moore hates the sound of the dirt as it thumps against the coffin and “showers down around it like an evil rain.” Though he knows Miss Debbie’s spirit is with the Lord, he tries not to think about her body...
(The entire section is 606 words.)
Chapter 54 Summary
The next morning the Halls hold a memorial service for Deborah at their church, a service she insisted must be nothing but a celebration. Moore is going to follow the family in his own car and shows up in their driveway wearing a fashionable pin-striped suit and a tie. When Moore gets out of the car, Hall greets his friend with a long hug. Hall had heard from a friend that when she left Rocky Top at twilight, she saw Moore still sitting by Deborah’s grave.
The parking lot is full when they arrive, and Hall has to scrounge for a parking spot like everyone else, as Deborah did not want limousines or anything else that looked like a funeral. Inside, nearly a thousand people have gathered, and for two hours Deborah’s...
(The entire section is 595 words.)
Chapter 55 Summary
Before she dies, Deborah made her family to promise to take a trip somewhere, just Hall, Carson, and Regan. They are to leave right after the memorial service, stay for one week, and not talk about anything sad. She issued this edict a month ago, on her last day in the hospital. The four of them talked that day about where they should go.
Hall suggested Italy, but Regan thought that was too far and wanted to float the Rio Grande and hike in Big Bend. Bothe Deborah and Carson approved of Regan’s idea, so that is where they are going now, the day after the memorial service. Following Deborah’s instructions, they have packed the car and are just walking out the door when the phone rings. It is Don Shisler from the...
(The entire section is 583 words.)
Chapter 56 Summary
While the Halls were away on their trip to Big Bend, Moore prays that God will give them a time of healing. Moore believes there is something healing about a river, dating back to the river Jordan. Nothing is going to make Hall and his children feel better about losing Miss Debbie, but Moore prays they will feel refreshed and renewed as they spend time in the midst of God’s creation.
Moore knows that as soon as the Halls come back, he is going to have to get dressed up again. Don Shisler, the director of the mission, has invited him to something called “National Philanthropy Day.” Shisler has already invited Hall and left a message on his phone to remind him. Miss Debbie is one of the people the group wants to...
(The entire section is 761 words.)
Chapter 57 Summary
With grace and dignity, Moore walks through the “glittering crowd of the wealthiest people in Fort Worth,” accepts a philanthropy award on Deborah’s behalf, and receives a standing ovation.
The next day, Hall tells the mission board what the family has decided about naming the new chapel for Deborah, but he also shares what Moore told him; the new chapel will be called the Deborah Hall Memorial Chapel. The fund-raising drive for the new mission, called New Beginnings, has officially begun. Within two days of Deborah’s memorial service, two family friends donated $350,000 to the mission in her honor.
The grace that has been sustaining Hall through Deborah’s funeral and memorial services, the family...
(The entire section is 736 words.)
Chapter 58 Summary
Moore is glad to be at Rocky Top helping Hall improve Miss Debbie’s final resting place, but he has never felt as comfortable around Hall as he was around Miss Debbie. It is true that the two men have gone lots of places together and done many things over the past two years, Moore is pretty sure the only reason Hall was so nice to Moore is because Miss Debbie told him to spend time with the homeless man. Now that she is gone, Moore is waiting for Hall to get rid of him.
That evening, Hall shows Moore to the room he has slept in before, only he wrapped himself in a blanket and slept on the floor. Moore has never been comfortable sleeping inside, but Hall insists that Moore must not sleep on the floor and makes Moore...
(The entire section is 488 words.)
Chapter 59 Summary
Hall and Moore wake to a beautiful, chilly morning; Moore seems particularly well rested. The men are thankful for the cooler weather, as they will be gathering rocks for Deborah’s grave site, something which should not be done in Texas before the first frost for fear of rousing the ire of rattlesnakes.
The two men gather rocks for three days, seeking out only the most extraordinary ones, the stones which will be just right for this sacred place. Stone by stone, they make a wall around the square of ground which will one day be Hall’s final resting place next to his wife. They use the best rocks to build pillars which will eventually hold a wrought-iron entry arch emblazoned with the name they have chosen for the...
(The entire section is 560 words.)
Chapter 60 Summary
Moore likes the big, flat rock at Brazos del Dios, the Halls’ newly created family cemetery. It is a comfortable place for Moore to go because he knows Miss Debbie is there with him. The family dedicates the cemetery in May, and it is a beautiful spring day for which Moore thanks God. About fifty people attend the ceremony, most of whom are the same people who attended Deborah’s funeral in November. Everyone sings for a while and then spend some time talking about God’s faithfulness to them during this heavy time of mourning and grieving.
Moore feels as if God has given him something to share with this group; and when the Lord tells him to speak, Moore figures there is not much more to do but to open his mouth and...
(The entire section is 428 words.)
Chapter 61 Summary
Autumn arrives with some unseasonably cool weather, and Hall is spending a lot of his time with Moore. They talk about the things they have lived through and even consider writing their story. In order to tell the whole story, though, Hall needs to learn more about Moore’s heritage, to know whether Moore’s past was as bad as he says it was. Hall has been to Red River Parish, Louisiana, in his mind many times; but since Moore is sparing with his adjectives, Hall knows his image of it is more like a movie-set reality than the truth. Hall must go back to Red River Parish with Moore in order to see and touch the place which produced the man who changed his life. Moore’s reason for going is to close the door on his past in order...
(The entire section is 606 words.)
Chapter 62 Summary
Moore is quite anxious about going back to his former home on the plantation in Red River Parish. Once he and Hall cross the state line, though, he feels much better, as if there were something in the air drawing him home. Perhaps it is memories or spirits; all spirits are not good, but not all of them are bad either.
Hall takes some pictures of Moore in a cotton field in which he used to work. The two men only stayed in the field for a few moments before driving again in Highway 1, a long stretch of black dividing the white cotton fields in half. They drive until Moore tells Hall to turn onto a dirt road. Back on the left is the Man’s house, and on the right is a house Moore has never seen before now.
(The entire section is 526 words.)
Chapter 63 Summary
When Moore shows him the shack where he once lived, Hall is appalled. It is falling apart and nearly small enough to fit in the back of a long-bed pickup truck. He looks from this pitiful shack to the Man’s grand white house, complete with a gracious porch and a swing. The contrast disgusts him.
Moore does not say much as they poke around the place and soon suggests they go to the house where his sister Hershalee had lived. Moore says the Man had let Hershalee stay in her house even after she had quit working in the fields and could no longer pay rent. Moore seems to think that was a grand gesture.
Hall begins to think about what kind of person the Man is. For decades, one Man kept his sharecroppers...
(The entire section is 798 words.)
Chapter 64 Summary
When Moore and Hall hear those steps from behind the door of a “boarded-up room that wadn’t fit for no human,” Moore is scared beyond control and both of them get out of the house as fast as they can. As they run, though, Moore begins to think perhaps they are being foolish and that the sounds they heard had come from a vagrant or someone who has taken shelter in Hershalee’s abandoned house.
When they get around the corner of the house, though, Moore’s skin begins to crawl and he is certain what they heard is a something, not a someone. He knows it for sure when Hall’s car will not start. After they finally get past Hershalee’s house, Moore tells Hall this is not the first time he has...
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Chapter 65 Summary
Hall drives the “miraculously healed Suburban” down the red dirt road which eventually leads to Highway 1. They drive for a mile or so, looking for another dirt road. It is little more than a slit in the weeds, so both Hall and Moore miss it the first time and have to double back to find it. This is the road which leads to Moore’s Aunt Pearlie May’s house. She moved into a shack closer to the plantation in the 1960s and has been there ever since.
As they drive, Hall realizes that he is seeing a part of life most Americans do not even know exists: six tiny shacks settled next to one another without any yards to divide the lots, heaps of junk piled in front of each house, and a bloated dog carcass sitting in the...
(The entire section is 690 words.)
Chapter 66 Summary
More than half a million dollars has poured into the mission by the second week in September. Several days before the groundbreaking ceremony on Deborah’s namesake chapel, Mary Ellen visits Hall and reminds him of the metaphor Jesus gave His disciples about His death. Jesus told them that unless a seed is dropped into the ground and dies, it will never bear fruit. God told Mary Ellen that Deborah is that seed. The next day, Moore stops to see Hall and reminds him that when one thing dies something new begins, and though Miss Debbie has died, there is something new beginning.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the chapel at New Beginnings is scheduled for September 13, but a tragedy strikes New York City and America on...
(The entire section is 729 words.)
Chapter 67 Summary
Moore was skeptical when Hall told him he would not be a catch-and-release friend, but Hall asks Moore to move in with him—at the Murchison Estate in Dallas. It is a mansion in which United States presidents and movie stars have stayed.
At one time, the Murchisons were the richest couple in Texas and among the richest people in the world. In 2001, Lupe Murchison died, joining her husband, and now the couple’s family wants Hall to come live on the estate and sell all the Murchisons’ art. They have hundreds of pieces worth what to Moore seems like zillions of dollars, and Hall wants Moore to come live on the estate and be the night watchman.
The job suits Moore because he is ready to work and make his...
(The entire section is 723 words.)