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To Everything There Is A Season

A Superman fan story by Tom Nichol
Based on characters and situations from
the television series
the Adventures of Superman

[Author’s note: In the first episode, “Superman On Earth,” Eben Kent, Superman’s adoptive father, passes away from a heart attack at the age of 64. His death serves as the springboard for Clark to move to Metropolis to begin his life’s work as Superman. The untimely death of George Reeves in 1959 forced the cancellation of the series, leaving the story lines for many of the show’s supporting characters unresolved. The purpose of this pastiche is to resolve the story of Sarah Kent, Superman’s adoptive mother, in a (hopefully!) compassionate and respectful manner. I sincerely hope you enjoy it!]

It was March 1, 1961, and Clark Kent, also known as Superman, felt an unusual restlessness gnawing away at him. It was just under ten years since the death of Eben Kent, Superman’s adoptive father.

His adoptive mother, Sarah Kent, was now in her 70’s, and Clark was becoming increasingly concerned as to her welfare. Her cousin, Edith Clark, had passed away peacefully in her sleep some 6 months before. While Sarah remained in good health, Edith’s death had forced her to give up farming altogether, even with the help of a long-time family friend. Happily, there were many members of both the Clark and the Kent families who had willingly pitched in to take care of Sarah. Also, Edith had owned a surprisingly large life insurance policy, the proceeds from which had enabled Sarah to remain independent from a financial standpoint, and to live out what she instinctively knew might well be her last days in relative comfort.

Even with all of this, however, Clark was becoming ever more concerned about the gracious farm wife who had worked so hard—and so successfully—to assist her late husband in molding the character of the Last Son of Krypton into the truly heroic figure he had become. He had kept in touch with his various family members on a regular basis, all of whom assured him that she was doing well despite her age.

Nevertheless, Clark was not overly surprised when his cousin, Tom Clark, who was a highly respected attorney in Smallville, came to visit him late in the afternoon of March 1, just after Clark had returned home from his job as the unofficial lead reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet. As the two warmly shook hands, Clark could not help noticing that Tom was giving him an unusually appraising look. Nevertheless, the two sat down together on opposite sides of Clark’s kitchen table. As he took his seat, Tom lifted a small leather valise which he had brought with him and laid it on the table. He then unzipped the valise and extracted several sheets of typewritten paper from a manila envelope. Clark didn’t have to be a lawyer to recognize that they were legal documents of some kind.

So what’s up?” Clark inquired, nodding toward the documents. For reply, his cousin slid them across the table toward him. Clark’s handsome face turned white as a sheet when he saw the contents of the two documents. One was labeled, “Last Will and Testament”; the other was captioned, “Letter of Last Instructions.” Both of the documents were styled with the name, “Sarah Clark Kent.”

Tom, seeing the look of alarm on his cousin’s face, hastily explained that, while his mother was still in good health, in the wake of Cousin Edith’s recent passing, she had decided that she should put her own affairs in order, so that, when her own time came, the settlement of her estate would be as easy on her son as she could reasonably make it. Realizing the wisdom of her actions, Clark slowly nodded his concurrence. His cousin then carefully went over both documents with him and explained the steps that would need to be taken once Clark’s adoptive mother finally did pass away. “I know that you hope, just as I do, Clark, that her passing doesn’t occur for a long time yet. Nevertheless, I feel that your mother acted very wisely in setting her affairs in order now. We can still make any last-minute adjustments along the way if the need arises.”

Tom then retrieved the documents and slid them back into the manila envelope. He then put the envelope back into the valise he had brought with him. “Your mother asked me to keep those documents,” he explained, as he rose from the table and prepared to take his leave. “That way, they can be kept safe, but still be available at a moment’s notice when the time does come.” He then put a comforting hand on his cousin’s shoulder and looked deep into his blue eyes. “Please don’t let this get you down, cousin,” he said softly. “As I’m sure you realize, we all have to go some time. Let’s both be thankful that at least, when her time does come, winding up your mother’s affairs will be as easy and as painless as possible.” With that, as Clark again nodded his acquiescence, the two men exchanged another warm handshake, and then Tom went on his way.

The next six and a half weeks went by with surprising swiftness. Then, on April 10, 1961, exactly ten years to the day since the death of his father, Clark got the long-distance phone call he had long been dreading. It was from Tom in Smallville, who sadly informed him that Sarah had died in her sleep during the previous evening, just as Cousin Edith had only seven months earlier. The disguised Last Son of Krypton seemed to wilt inside as he processed the sad news. He managed to stammer out an assurance that he would get to Smallville as soon as he could. Then, hanging up the telephone, Clark slowly rose to his feet and headed for Perry White’s office to request some personal leave time.

As he entered, Clark was surprised to find Inspector William Henderson of the Metropolis Police Department in the office, discussing some possible follow-ups to several recent stories. Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane were there as well.

All of them, however, including Perry, quickly fell silent as they saw the gray pallor on his face. “Clark, what’s wrong?” Henderson inquired, his face filled with concern, as were those of of the others in the room. For a long moment, Clark was silent, unable to bring himself to bring himself to pronounce the sad news. Finally, however, he managed to take a deep breath and give his reply: “I just got a call from Smallville. My mother died in her sleep during the night.”

His friends all gasped in shock. “Oh, no!” Lois breathed. She and Jimmy had both met Sarah Kent on a trip to Smallville several years earlier. As a result, this dread news was almost as much of a blow to them as it had been to Clark.

Oh, Mr. Kent,” Jimmy Olsen said, “we are so sorry!” The others murmured their condolences as the disguised Man of Steel seated himself and buried his face in his hands.

As Henderson quietly came forward and put a comforting hand on Clark’s shoulder, Perry quietly asked, “Is there anything any of us can do, Clark?”

I—I need to take some time off to go to Smallville and tend to Ma’s funeral and close out her estate,” the Last Son of Krypton almost whispered.

Of course, of course,” his employer responded softly, his face filled with sympathy. “Take as much time as you need to, Clark. All I ask in return is that you keep in touch with us.”

Clark nodded in agreement. “It shouldn’t take too long,” he explained. “Ma put her affairs in order just over a month ago, in the wake of her Cousin Edith’s death, so it shouldn’t take more than a week or ten days to wind up her estate.” The others nodded their understanding.

Then Henderson spoke: “Come on, Clark—let’s go! I’m going to Smallville with you. I’m overdue for some time off myself—and this is not something you should even try to go through alone. I will not take ‘no’ for an answer, so let’s get going and be done with it!”

In spite of the gravity of the situation, Jimmy could not keep a flicker of a smile off his features. He knew well, just as his colleagues did, that Bill Henderson had meant it when he said he would not take ‘no’ for answer. As Clark slowly rose to his feet, he nodded his agreement. “Thank you, Bill,” he said quietly, “thank you very much!”

The Inspector smiled quietly and responded, “Hey—what are friends for if not to help in time of need?”

That goes for all of us, Mr. Kent,” Jimmy piped up. Then, suddenly, as if on some unspoken signal, Clark’s four friends gathered around him, then threw their arms around the disguised Man of Steel for a long moment in a warm embrace of love and care and concern that Clark would never forget.

As Clark and Henderson were about to leave, Lois suddenly darted over to them. Then, to everyone’s surprise, she firmly but gently planted a kiss on her colleague’s cheek. She felt a thrill course through her entire being when the Last Son of Krypton kissed her on the cheek in return. With that, Clark and Henderson went on their way.

They stopped by their respective apartments just long enough to pack a few things for the trip. Once that was done, as they were about to get back in the car, Henderson gently but firmly insisted on doing the driving. Clark made no attempt to argue the point. Bill started the engine, put the car in gear, and the two men started on the long trip to Smallville.

During the trip, the two men talked about many things. The conversation was made at least somewhat easier by the fact that Bill Henderson was one of the few people who knew that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same person. This allowed them to talk about a number of subjects which otherwise would have been off-limits. Even so, Bill made every effort to avoid saying anything or doing anything that would upset the disguised Man of Steel.

It took several hours for the two men to arrive in Smallville. At Clark’s request, they stopped at the house where Clark had grown up. He then insisted that the two men reside there during their stay in Smallville, if for no other reason than that of convenience. He was not altogether surprised to find Tom Clark waiting for them. Indeed, he had half expected it. He introduced Bill Henderson, and then the trio went inside.

They had hardly made it inside and closed the door when the disguised Man of Steel sat down on the very couch where his adoptive father had lain before his own death, took off his glasses, buried his face in his hands, and unashamedly wept. His two companions promptly sat down on either side of him, each one putting an arm around his shoulders in an effort to com-fort the Last Son of Krypton.

It’s all right, cousin,” Tom said softly. “Go ahead and cry—don’t be ashamed of it.”

He’s right, Clark,” Henderson added. “Let it out! You have every right to grieve! Don’t hold it back—it isn’t healthy! Let it out so you can deal with it and put it behind you! Let it out so you can begin to heal! I’m sure both of your parents would say the same thing!” Clark promptly pulled his two friends close, as he followed their advice, letting his grief and anguish come to the surface in deep, racking sobs.

When at last the disguised Man of Steel managed to calm himself to some degree, the three men went over to the kitchen table and seated themselves. There, Tom again explained the steps that had already been set in motion by Sarah’s passing. The body had already been taken to the Smallville Funeral Home to be embalmed and prepared for the funeral, which was scheduled two days hence at 10:00 in the morning. Because Sarah had been so widely known and respected in Smallville, it had been necessary to arrange for two services—one to take place in the Funeral Home’s main chapel, and a smaller, graveside service just prior to Sarah’s interment.

Sarah’s will was fairly simple. It stated that the Kent family farm was to be offered first to any family members who might be interested in the property. Should no one among Clark’s extended adoptive family be interested, the farm was to be put up for sale, with Clark to inherit the bulk of the proceeds. Naturally, all of Sarah’s few remaining financial obligations were to be taken care of first, under the direction of the local Probate Court. Surprisingly, Sarah’s estate, although sizable, was still small enough to be exempt from any Federal, state, or local estate or inheritance taxes, due in part to recent actions by the state legislature. Tom explained that the Probate Court hearing had already been scheduled for the next day, and that it should only take a few minutes to complete the proceedings and close out the estate as far as the courts were concerned.

It all worked out just as Tom had predicted, due in large part to Sarah’s careful planning before she passed away. Once the proceedings were concluded, Clark, Tom, and Henderson went to Smallville Funeral Home to complete the necessary final paperwork to complete the funeral arrangements. They then went to the viewing room to begin the formal visitation. Tom and Henderson made a point of staying in the background to make things easier for the disguised Man of Steel.

The morning of the funeral dawned cold, gray, and bleak. Despite this, the Funeral Home’s main chapel was packed to capacity. Numerous residents of Smallville told story after story of Sarah’s innate kindness, of her selflessness and concern for others. The Last Son of Krypton found himself moved beyond description at their heartfelt tributes.

The graveside service was scheduled for 2:00 that afternoon. Only the immediate members of the Clark and Kent families were expected to be in attendance. For this reason, Clark was all the more shocked when Perry, Lois, and Jimmy showed up. “We had to come, Clark,” said Lois quietly, “we simply HAD to!”Again moved beyond description, Clark embraced each of his four friends. “Thank you,” he said softly, “thank you all so very much!” The quartet then stood beside Clark, with Perry and Bill standing on his left, while Lois and Jimmy stood to his immediate right. The other members of the two sides of Clark\s adoptive family silently gathered around them.

Pete Ross, an old school friend of Clark’s who had gone on to become a minister of the Smallville Community Church, presided over the ceremony. His remarks were brief, warm, and deeply sympathetic. Then, after a short but heartfelt prayer of committal, the casket containing the mortal remains of Sarah Clark Kent were gently and silently lowered into the ground beside the grave of her late husband.

As the crowd dispersed, Tom Clark addressed his cousin and his four companions. “I need to speak to Clark privately for a few minutes before you all head back to Metropolis together,” he quietly stated. The others nodded and respectfully moved a short distance away.

Once he was sure that the others were safely out of earshot, Tom quietly explained to Clark that, not long before her death, Sarah had explained about Clark’s secret identity, and how he had come to Earth from Krypton some 35 years earlier. As a result, Tom had not only bought the Kents’ farm, but also the Jones farm, where the rocket bearing the Kryptonian infant had crash-landed, and which, as it turned out, was directly adjacent to that of the Kents. He had personally searched the area where the now-destroyed Kryptonian ship had plowed into the fertile soil. His purpose in doing so was to make doubly sure that there were no remaining pieces of the rocket ship that might possibly give anyone any inkling as to Clark’s dual identity. “As a lawyer,” he went on, “I’m sworn to confidentiality, cousin, so let me assure you that your secret is safe with me!” Gratefully, Clark put an arm around Tom’s shoulders and gave him an affectionate squeeze in response.

As the two men prepared to part, Tom said, just loud enough for the others to hear, “There’ll always be a place for you here if you ever want to come by for a visit, Clark. Godspeed, and please keep in touch!”

I will,” Clark replied, “and the same to you. Tom. Thank you for all you’ve done!” With that, the two men embraced for a long moment, and then Clark turned and rejoined the others.

After a brief explanation, Clark and Bill got back into their car,

while Perry, Lois, and Jimmy got into theirs. “I should be back at the office on Monday, Chief,” he called out to Perry, as Jimmy started his car’s engine.

Not a problem, Clark!” Perry responded, as Henderson started the car in which he and Clark would be riding.

We’ll see you then, Clark,” Lois chimed in. Clark favored her and the others with a warm smile, and then the two cars went on their way.

It took two hours for Clark and Bill to actually arrive in Metropolis and pull up in front of the Standish Arms Building, where Clark’s apartment was located. Clark removed his suitcase from the trunk of Henderson’s car, then gave his friend a long, warm hug of appreciation. Henderson, deeply moved, gladly returned the embrace. As the two men released each other, the Inspector, asked, “Will you be resuming your regular patrol schedule as Superman?”

In a few hours,” Clark replied. “If nothing else, I’ll see you back in Perry’s office on Monday—we still have some stories for the Daily Planet we need to wind up.”

Henderson nodded, then got back in his car with a smile. “Let me know if you need anything, or if there’s anything I can do to help you!” he said, as he started the engine. Clark smiled and responded, “I will, Bill—and thanks again for everything!” With that, the Inspector went on his way, and Clark picked up his suitcase and headed for his apartment. As he did so, a verse for the Book of Ecclesiastes, which Pete Ross had used during both services, came to his mind: “To everything there is a season , , ,”

Posted: November 12, 2023

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