Characters: Faith Bass Darling, matriarch of Bass, Texas
Claudia Jean Darling, her daughter
Bobbie Ann Blankenship, Claudia’s childhood friend who is now an antique dealer
John Jasper Johnson, the black deputy, Mike Darling’s best friend and fellow football superstar
Claude Angus Darling, Faith’s deceased husband
Mike Darling, Faith’s son who was killed in an accident as a teenager.
‘On the last day of the millennium, after a midnight revelation from God, Faith Bass Darling had a garage sale.’
But not just any yard sale. Hauled out onto the lawn of her mansion were priceless antiques, a Tiffany lamp collection, an heirloom ring and a 10,000 bill. Faith Bass Darling is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Her daughter Claudia Jean has not spoken to her mother in over a decade. So when Faith decides to sell all of her possessions on the day before January 1 in the year 2000, there is no one to stand in her way. Bobbie Jean, as owner of the local antique store, hurries over to the sale and tries to keep Faith from letting her beautiful things go for almost nothing, a few dollars for each item, or twenty dollars for an antique worth thousands. The local deputy, John Jasper also tries to dissuade Faith. But Faith is having trouble remembering who she is, let alone who anyone else is. Memories mix in with reality in her brain and she can’t tell which is which. Bobbie does get in touch with Claudia Jean and tells her she must come home, which she does, for the first time since she ran away as a teenager, after the death of her older brother Mike.
This is a story about a broken family, the Darlings, whose ancestors founded the small town in Texas. Faith’s father owned the town bank which she inherited after his death, along with her husband, Claude Angus, whose true colors began to show after her father is gone. The accidental death of Mike, everyone’s ‘darling’ tears the family apart, a tragedy which affects each member in its own way. Claudia’s homecoming means having to face her anger and sense of betrayal by her mother, and maybe a chance to mend the relationship. But with Faith’s mental state slipping into and out of the here and now, it’s hard to get through to her or even know what she is saying.
I will comment here on how unnerving I found it that Faith Bass Darling would set all of her beautiful belongings out on the front lawn and almost give them away to perfect strangers. Every time the story told of another yard sale minivan hauling off a priceless antique it almost turned my stomach. I have a few antiques myself, though nothing on the order of what Faith is almost giving away, and the thought that she no longer cared for these objects to the point that she sold them to people who had no idea of their value, who very well could have used them as trinkets struck me as wrong. But maybe that’s just me.
This is much more than a tale about an older lady struggling with Alzheimer’s selling off her belongings. Friendship, lost love, broken dreams as well as new ones, and what really matters in a family are all here.