Papa’s Announcement

Editing away

Alfred gazes out into the shadows around our lit corner in the back of L & L pub. The fire draws his attention for a moment. It still burns as brightly as it can. He pops his neck from side to side. “I took the stool between Catherine and Joseph when we finally settle for the meeting. Basically, all I did was sit there and listen to Papa as much as the children. I glanced at them every now and again, but I could not really get a read on them.”

I look around at the now vacant pub and remember my gratitude to Ralph and Rebecca for letting us stay. That was really nice of them. I turn my focus back to Alfred. “So, did Papa just come out and tell them what was on his mind?”

Alfred shakes his head. “Of course not. Papa was in too reflective a mood at this point. He began by remembering all that he and I accomplished with the farm. Sweat began to form on his brow from the heat of the day. He recalled the day he brought the animals home. He tells his children of all the struggles of building barns and letting the animals clear themselves a spot in the land. He mentions moving from milking both the sheep and the cows to milking just the cows. He details every improvement and modification which we did on the farm. He lays out every initial trade deal and the trials there. Toward the end, I think he even got a little emotional.”

I nod. “Of course, he did. Y’all did a lot of work over many years. I figure that was a lot to reflect on in just a brief moment. I’m sure you felt a little bit of it too.”

Alfred shrugs. “I did. You have a point. It was wonderful to hear all of that recapped and think about my part in it. Papa made sure to include everything that he thought I did to help once I joined. He really made me out to be a fantastic helper.”

I tense my brow and close my eyes. “I’m glad you got to hear those things. Alfred, let’s face it. The farm would not be what it is without your help. Both under Papa’s supervision and now with the children in charge.”

Alfred stares into the table. “Anyway, Papa spends a moment then to celebrate his children. He talks about the joy of having them around. He mentions how much help they have been as they have grown up. He details how they have grown into each new role and thanked them for taking each task in hand. His posture straightened with a smile bigger than I have seen in years.”

I roll my glass in my hand. “A proud daddy no doubt. The children really did well under his guidance. He had a lot to teach them, and they learned more attentively than it seemed at times, I’ll wager.”

“I suppose you’re right about that. I forget that they did keep things going despite all the bickering. Papa recognized that too. He did warn them about taking care of each other as much as the animals. They are family even if they don’t always like each other.

“Then, Papa took a step back and stated that he wants them to run the farm themselves. He reminds them that they really have been doing most of the work themselves for a couple of years. He hopes they will continue to learn new lessons while not forgetting the ones learned so far. He promises them that he will still be around for help and guidance should they want or need it. With that said, he walked over to the one open stool in front of our group and sat down.”

I inhale deeply with wide eyes. “Well, he did finally state it very flatly then. Just threw it out there for everybody.”

Alfred nods looking me in the eye. “Yeah, after all the build-up, he just stated his intention and sat down. There was no room for discussion about him having decided this. Just put it out there and waited. I remember him looking composed by that point, but I promise that he was still a bit emotional.”

“I guess so. How would the children respond? I can only imagine what might have been rolling around his mind as he waited. That’s a lot of pressure to leave hanging in a room.”

“I agree. The children undoubtedly guessed what was coming after all that build up. Still, to hear their father propose that had to come as a surprise.”

“So, how did the children react?”

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