Jump ahead to next spring. The Colman clan are packing up their house and moving to town.
Before they leave, Billy goes up to visit his dogs one last time. When he gets up there, he sees that a red fern has sprouted over the graves.
At first he's bummed, but then he remembers an old legend.
Short version: two children got lost in a storm and froze to death. Charming right? Anyway, in the spring when the bodies were found, a red fern had grown up between them. The legend says that only an angel can plant a red fern.
Billy calls to his family and they come running. The fern blows everyone away.
His dad thinks this is God's way of helping Billy understand why his dogs died. And you know what? Billy does feel better.
Everyone gives Billy some time alone and he says a final thank you and goodbye to his dogs.
As they head away from the farm, Billy can see his home and the barn. On the hillside, he sees the red fern waving like a banner.
Everyone tears up, but the wagon just moves on. Like life. Do you get it?
And now we break from this beautiful image to come back to the present day.
Yeah, remember how this was all a flashback?
Billy is a grownup again, and he thinks about visiting his old home. He's never been back, but he'd like to go and wander the hills, search for his old ax, see the house and barn, and visit his dogs.
He knows if he goes back, the red fern will be there waiting for him.