Bryson City Tales — The New Year (Part 1)

This is from the twenty-eighth chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Tales. I hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me each week, and that if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends and family to join us.

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After driving home from Asheville through the snow-covered mountains, we went straight to Ray and Nancy’s to introduce them to the newest Larimore and to pick up Kate, who was absolutely ecstatic about her new little brother.

As we were leaving, Ray shared some good news. “Walt, Mitch asked me to tell you to take off work until January 2. The hospital’s light, we’ll take your call, Rick’s going to take any deliveries that come in. We feel you need some time with your new family. That sound OK?”

Surprisingly I felt a bit of guilt well up in my gut. I instantly knew that I shouldn’t feel that way, but the medical profession is a selfish mistress, and she teaches you to become beholden and subservient to her—even to the point of sacrificing your own family. “You sure?” I asked, hesitating.

He smiled. “You bet. It’ll be our pleasure. Enjoy your family.” “I will. Thanks, Ray.”

“Don’t thank me. Thank the general.”

We exchanged a knowing grin. 

That afternoon the three oldest Larimores opened their Christmas gifts together while the youngest slept in his crib. As I watched Barb and Kate open their gifts, I felt two distinct and competing emotions. On one hand, I was secretly worried about Scott. Would he have cerebral palsy, like Kate? The ultrasounds had shown normal brain development—but, then again, these same ultrasound exams had said he was a she. I tried not to show my concern. On the other hand, I had an overwhelming feeling of warmth in my heart. What a wonderful wife and family I had been given! What a special season this was for my family!

Before I knew it I felt tears flowing down my cheeks. I couldn’t believe it. I had cried more times this fall than I had in the past decade! It had been in many ways the best few months of my life, and in other ways it had been among the worst of times. At times I felt confident and skilled as a physician, husband, and father, while at other times I felt inexperienced and inept. One group of folks loved our being in Bryson City, while others acted as though they would have been just as happy to see us leave. But as I weighed things out in my mind, I decided that, overall, I was grateful and blessed.

Barb and I had our own New Year’s Eve traditions. We had never enjoyed parties on that particular evening, so we had developed the tradition of having a dinner of hot buttered corn bread and black-eyed peas. We’d spend the meal time talking about the important things we had learned that year. We’d reflect on our most special memories. We’d laugh. Then we’d go to bed early, often awaking at midnight to the sound of firecrackers.

This year we’d invited “Uncle Rick” over for the evening meal—to share in our family tradition. We expected a “plain Jane” New Year’s Eve. It was not to be.

Rick called in the midafternoon. “Walt, I’d really like to take you guys out to dinner. My mom and dad have arrived in town— unannounced—to surprise me. I’d like you to meet them. Can we do dinner together?”

I paused. First of all, I was pretty sure there wasn’t going to be a single restaurant in town open that evening. Our favorites were all closed for the holiday. All of the tourist joints were closed. All the local cafés had announced that they would close after lunch. Besides, I thought, this is our family’s night.

Rick continued. “Best yet, I have a new friend who is preparing dinner for us all at her place.”

Rick’s been in town for only a few weeks, I thought. Who is this new friend?

“I know you and Barb will be turning in early, at least you always have in the past, so how ’bout I come pick you all up about six. I’ll have you home in time for the kids’ bedtime. Sound OK?”

“Let me check with Barb.” I was hoping she wouldn’t be interested, but she was. “Sounds good, Rick. We’ll be waiting for you.”

At the stroke of 6:00 we heard a knock on the door. Rick came in with his mom and dad—Paul and Ida. They had driven from Pittsburgh to see Rick and to get a look at his new town. His mom had a special interest in seeing that his house was in order.

“Let’s go. Dinner’s waiting,” exclaimed Rick. As we stepped out, he whispered, “You’re going to love what I’ve got planned.” I was curious indeed.

“Where are we going?”

“Just for a little ride.” He was smiling.

We settled the kids in their car seats, and off we went, in two cars. The destination became clear as we doglegged at the library. “The Fryemont Inn?” said Barb, looking at me.

We followed Rick up to the parking lot and began to unload.

There were no other cars in the lot. Rick smiled. “Katherine is cooking for us all.”


“Indeed! While you all were in Asheville, she came into the office to see you, Walt. She had a cold or something. Since you weren’t there, I saw her. We hit it off fabulously. I told her what was going on with you guys, and she said she wanted to cook you a congratulatory dinner when you were back and settled. She called a couple of days ago, and we talked for a while. One thing led to another, and she made this terrific offer. Wouldn’t take no for an answer. Said she’d be alone otherwise. She loves to cook. So, that was that.”

The steep driveway had been scraped clear of snow, as had two parking places next to the entrance. I carried Kate on my back in a carrier and helped Barb up the steps. She was still sore from the difficult delivery. Rick toted Scott in the car seat.

We walked into the dining room, which was cozy and warm and permeated with the smells of fir. A fire roared in the large stone fireplace. Katherine had cut and hauled into the dining room four- and five-foot-long logs and had a spectacular fire blazing. We could feel its warmth from across the room.

“Hi, everyone!” Katherine called out, sticking her head out of the kitchen door. “Have a seat. Make yourself at home! I’ll be out in a jiffy.”

We took off our coats. I settled Kate into a high chair. The lights were on their lowest setting, and a beautiful Advent wreath with five large candles burning adorned the middle of the dining table that stood in front of the fireplace. The gleaming hardwood floors reflected the glow of the fire. The paddle fans that hung from the raftered, vaulted ceiling were silent, allowing the snapping and popping of the wood in the fireplace to fill the dining room with its welcoming melody.

In a few moments the kitchen door swung open and Katherine appeared, carrying a tray of hot apple cider and mugs. She placed the tray and mugs on the table, threw her long blond hair back off her shoulder, and greeted Barb with a warm hug.

Then she bent over Scott, who was sound asleep. “She’s so cute.”

Barb, Rick, and I looked at each other and laughed.

“What are you all laughing about?”

“Long story,” Rick responded, “but she’s actually Scott.” Katherine laughed out loud. We all laughed with her. As Katherine served the cider, Rick told her the whole story.

“Well,” she observed, “given your knowledge of anatomy, Dr. Larimore, maybe it’s better that I saw Dr. Pyeritz in the office.”

Her eyes met his, and mine met Barb’s. I wondered, as did Barb, if this relationship might be—or become—more than professional.



  1. The Murder (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  2. The Arrival (Part 1)(Part 2)
  3. The Hemlock Inn (Part 1)(Part 2)
  4. The Grand Tour (Part 1)(Part 2)
  5. The Interview (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  6. Settling In (Part 1)(Part 2)
  7. First-Day Jitters (Part 1)(Part 2)
  8. Emergency (Part 1)(Part 2)
  9. The Delivery (Part 1)(Part 2)
  10. The “Expert” (Part 1)(Part 2)
  11. The Trial (Part 1)(Part 2)
  12. Shiitake Sam (Part 1)(Part 2)
  13. Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  14. Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4)
  15. White Lies
  16. The Epiphany (Part 1)(Part 2)
  17. Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1)(Part 2)
  18. Monuments (Part 1)(Part 2)
  19. My First Home Victory (Part 1)(Part 2)
  20. Fisher of Men (Part 1)(Part 2)
  21. Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
  22. Something Fishy (Part 1)(Part 2)
  23. A Good Day at the Office
  24. An Evening to Remember
  25. Another New Doc Comes to Town
  26. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1)(Part 2)
  27. A Surprising Gift
  28. The New Year (Part 1);

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2020. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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2 Responses to Bryson City Tales — The New Year (Part 1)

  1. nancy pratt says:

    nice, walt….i enjoy reading what you write….you have a talent for storytelling.

  2. Thanks, Nancy. Sure miss you guys and hope all is well with you and Allan, the kids and grands. Blessings.


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