Amelia spent most of Christmas and New Years’ at Mom and Dad’s. But I got to see her every day, thanks to Mom bringing her over.
The day before school was to start, Amalia flew home. But not before we exchanged addresses and promised to write.
School started for the second semester of the year. The boys were glad to get back to school. They needed the discipline of school coupled with the farm’s work to bring normality to their lives after the holidays. Christmas was hard on the boys as I’m sure their thoughts turned toward their homes and family. Mom and Dad did their best, but I knew that there was still a little pain in their heart.
In February, Charlie received a letter from one of his old clients. “Tony, I need to go back home. One of my old clients has a problem with his tractor. He said that the Walker boy damaged his tractor and he was going to sue him. I think I know what the problem was. He has a tractor that was built in the early 1900’s. It requires special grease and oil. The kid probably used the wrong grease and oil. I need to go and fix this.”
The following Saturday, Brad drove Charlie to the train station. When he returned, I could tell he was crying. For these boys to know they can’t go home hurts. Brad went to their apartment.
“Tony, where’s Brad?”
“I think he went to the apartment.” Tom left, and I knew where he was heading.
I took the opportunity to write a letter to Amalia. At dinner time, everything was back to normal, well as normal as it will be.
On the following Saturday, the boys went to pick up Charlie. When they came back, it looked they were crying. I looked at Charlie, and he gave me a sign to wait. The boys went to their apartment. I looked at Charlie.
“Brad’s dad has died. He was running the thresher when he fell and got cut with a blade. He bled to death in the field. When he didn’t come home, Brad’s mother went to look for him and found him. She is blaming Brad. I didn’t tell Brad that. I was in the shop when she came in. Someone told her I was in town. She blames Brad and his lifestyle. I still remember her words, ‘This is because of Brad. If he were here, he would still be alive. Brad and that damn Tom are responsible for his death.”
I thought if they had accepted them, then he wouldn’t have been on the thresher. Sometimes they get what they deserve. Who cares who loves who? As long as they are happy, why try and force a biased position on them. That would only make them unhappy, and no child should be unhappy just to please a bigot. I was mad, mad at society, mad at those damn hell preachers and those bigoted people. Brad and Tom were good, decent men. For me, they are the brothers I never had. I had to call Mom.
“Mom, I need you to come and see me. Charlie came home and told Brad his dad has died….He felled off his thresher….Okay, see you in a little while.”
“Charlie, let’s go and gather the eggs.” That is what we di
Mom and Dad arrived while we were gathering the eggs. We just had put them in the cold box when Dad came into the barn. “Where’s Mom?"
“She went to the apartment.”
“Did she tell you what happened?”
“Yes, I guess he had that big model that Deere built.”
“Yes, it is a tricky machine to operate, but it cuts a big swath of grain. So you need to make fewer trips. The turns are tricky.”
When we returned to the house, Mom wasn’t there. I surmised she must still be with the boys. I busied myself preparing dinner.
When dinner was ready, Dad went to get the boys and Mom. I noticed Mom’s eyes were a little red as well.
Sitting at the table, one would conclude that two young men were having dinner with their Mom and Dad. I was proud of my parents. They accepted the boys based on who they were and not who they loved. I had a brief thought if their parents could see this, maybe they wouldn’t be so fast to disown them.
It took them about two days to begin to be the boys I knew. Charlie watched and tried to make jokes, farm jokes. They fell on deaf ears at first, but as time passed, the boys returned to normalcy.
I think the love shown at home and the discipline of school helped them return to normal. For me, these boys are the brothers I never had, and I didn’t want them to suffer or feel any guilt.
Soon we were looking at Spring Break. The boys have recovered and were doing well in school. At the end of this semester, they will be Juniors with four more years to go.
“Are you planning on going camping for Spring Break?”
“Yes, and we are taking Charlie as well.”
“Do you need another tent?”
“No, we did okay the last time. Another bedroll would be nice.”