An adventurous spirit has always set Beth Lowell apart in her family, creating tension with her mother, Jan, who cherishes stability. Beth, a risk taker who traverses the globe for her job, wonders how Jan, now widowed, can endure her staid, predictable life. Then a note hidden inside an antique tea set reveals that Jan has kept a shocking secret from Beth.
Beth's search for the birth father she has never known takes her to an enchanting tea estate in the Himalayan foothills, accompanied by a handsome British businessman. And the revelation of a long-hidden past forces Jan to embark on her own journey ' toward reconciliation with her daughter and the courage to love again.
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May 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Leaves of Hope by Catherine Palmer
Lake Palestine, Texas
Being home again felt better than she had expected. With her mother living in a new house by the lake and her father gone, Beth Lowell had feared things might seem strange. But there in the pink armchair sat her mom reading a magazine. By the door stood the familiar brass coatrack. On the table sat a bouquet of fresh roses, as always. As much as she wished her mother would wake up and do something exciting with her life, Beth couldn't deny the pleasure in the familiar aroma of Jan Lowell's warm cherry cobbler. The taste of her famous chicken salad. The tang of fresh, homemade lemonade.
"Do you realize how many times your phone has tweedled, sweetie?" Jan lifted her head from the magazine. "I bet you've had fifteen calls since you got here this afternoon."
"Is that bothering you?" Beth asked as she set the phone beside her on the old beige sofa.
"It does make conversation difficult. I haven't seen you in almost a year, but we can hardly finish a sentence. Before this last call, you were telling me about your boss."
"I don't want to talk about Joe anymore." Beth crossed her legs and rubbed her toes, determined to avoid the subject of the man she had been dating for two months. "He's a good guy, but he doesn't understand my job. They bought us out because they knew they needed us, but Joe hasn't found time to learn what we do."
Her mom's eyebrows lifted. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Beth. Who's they, and who's us? And what do you really do?"
"My division of the company used to be an independent consulting firm. We assisted various corporations with international transitions. Last year, Global Relocation Services acquired the firm and moved us to New York. Now we help their clients."
As Jan shook her head in confusion, Beth wondered why her mother suddenly looked so old. Why did she wear a faded pink chenille bathrobe and that ancient flannel nightgown? And why did she still have those awful fake-fur slippers she'd gotten for Christmas a jillion years ago?
"What is an international transition, honey?" Jan asked.
"I'm sorry, but I can't picture what that means."
She adjusted herself in the chair, Beth noticed, as though her back were hurting. Could she have osteoporosis at age forty-five?
"You're the English teacher, Mom," Beth reminded her. "International refers to the world. Transition means moving and changing. I help people move around the world. Industry executives. Diplomats. Oil field managers."
"You pack boxes for them?" Jan glanced at the stacks of cartons still lining the edge of her living room. Though she had been living at the lake for more than a month now, she had yet to sort through all her possessions. The guest room where Beth would sleep was a maze of lamps, side tables, artificial flower arrangements and boxes.
"The moving company takes care of people's furniture and possessions the packing and unpacking," Beth explained.
"My division handles the rest."
"What else is there?"
"Everything. Families are uprooting their lives and settling into a new community. That's where I come in."
Jan flipped a page in her magazine without looking down at it. "Like helping them find a good school?"
"That and a hundred other things. For example, I just spent three months working with the family of a plastics company executive moving from Chicago to Colombia."