Two weeks later, they deliver my meat. I paid Uncle Angelo for the meat and started the salting process. This year Charlie would help as well as the boys.
During Thanksgiving break, I started to cut and grind the meat. Charlie and the boys left to bring Charlie’s things back. I expected them to be gone for at least three weeks. I was surprised when they returned a week later.
Looking at Brad, “I didn’t expect you for another two weeks.”
“There wasn’t much to pack, so we thought we would come home.” I knew there was more, and I had an idea that something involving their parents had happened. I also knew that sooner or later, they would tell me.
I was making sausage when Brad came down to the cellar to help me. I also suspected this is when he would tell me what happened. I didn’t say anything. As I fed the grinder, he began mixing the spices into the meat.
“Tony, things didn’t go well at home.”
“I thought something happened. If you want to talk about it, I’ll listen.”
“When we got there, Charlie had a young man working the shop. He was Jed Walker’s son. We were supposed to stay there, but there was no room since the boy had moved in. Charlie took a room at a motel on the highway. The three of us slept there. Over the next three days, we moved Charlie’s possessions, storing them on the truck. The boy went and told his dad that Charlie was back with Tom and me. I guess Charlie mentioned where we were staying. Anyway, the next morning Jed was there to talk to Charlie. He told Charlie that it would be better if he left. Charlie told him as soon as he had the money to buy his business, he would leave. So he gave Charlie the money, and we left.”
“Brad, I’m so sorry. But you know that Tom and you will always have a home here. Sometimes a family isn’t made up of kin as much as friends.”
Brad smiled, and it seemed that a load was taken off his back. But I knew he was hurting where it didn’t show. Looking at him, his eyes sparkled, and I knew it was tears that made them sparkle.
We continued to grind the meat. “This is more than last year.”
“Yes, this year, I bought a whole hog and calf. So we will have about twice what we had last year.”
Brad just smiled and continue to mix the meat. That was until Tom called him. “We have to take care of the animals. Tom wants to buy a few turkeys as soon as the run is finished.”
I finished grinding the meat for sausages and mixing the seasoning into the meat. I was getting ready to fill the casings when the boys came back with Charlie. “We want to show Charlie how to make sausage.”
I’m not sure what happened when Brad left, but I was glad they were back. Their mood was better, and I saw a few smiles. I’m guessing a decision had been reached.
It was past dinner time when we finished with the sausages. The boys wanted to have some for dinner. I told them it has to age, or else the taste will be like pork chops. They said that was okay. They liked pork chops.
I took some of the pork that I hadn’t used to fill the casings, told them to take it to the kitchen, and as soon as I finish filling the casings, I would be up to make dinner. Brad and Charlie stayed with me while we finished loading the casings. Tom took the seasoned meat to the kitchen. He came back, and with the two boys helping, we finish quickly. Hanging the sausage to dry, we went to the kitchen to begin preparing dinner.
Over dinner, we talked about making salami and school. Charlie spoke about being back and told us a little about living among those folks back home. Brad told him this is home now and to forget those back there. I noticed when Brad said this he and Tom had tears in their eyes. I knew leaving what they had known as home and knowing they could never go back was hard and hurtful.