“Now boarding passengers for flight 56 to Dallas,” the woman’s voice announced over the intercom. “Those needing assistance, those with small children, and unescorted children will board first.”
The young teenage boy quickly whirled around and hugged the woman next to him. As the light reflected off her face, a glimpse of water glistened from her eyes. The boy was too excited to take notice to his mother’s welling tears as he kissed her cheek and darted toward the gate to board the plane.
The check-in clerk glanced at his ticket and motioned to a stewardess standing near by. The young stewardess was wearing a dark blue dress suit and had eyes as blue as the sky.
“Please escort this boy to his seat,” the clerk curtly said.
As Joe followed the suited woman with long brown silky hair, he mumbled under his breath that he didn’t need any help. He disliked the implication that he was some little kid. He was almost fourteen and was flying to spend the summer working for his granddaddy. With this incident aside, the flight from Portland, Oregon, to Dallas, Texas, went without a hitch. Joe enjoyed the free drinks, sandwich and cookies as well as the fact that the he had a window seat and no one sitting next to him. As the flight began to wind down, he pulled a piece of gum from his backpack as his ears began to feel like he had been underwater too long. Joe watched out the window to see if he recognized any of the landscape as they descended into the Dallas area.
Joe could barely contain his excitement as he rushed off the plane into the waiting outstretched arms of his grandparents.
“Did you enjoy your flight,” Grammy asked as she put her arms around his shoulders.
“It was good. I almost finished my entire book.”
“What are you reading, “ Granddaddy inquired in a deep voice that echoed for blocks.
“The Sackett Brothers.”
“Ah, yes, a good Louis L’Amour book. I haven’t read that one yet. Would love to read it when you’re done,” Granddaddy said.
“So, tell me how the family is doing,” Grammy asked as they traveled toward home. Joe recounted to his grandparents what the family had been doing since grandparent’s visit at Easter. The ride also included instructions from Granddaddy as to what he was going to expect of Joe on his upcoming job.
“If you expect to get paid, then you need to work hard,” he told Joe. “I’ve no use for lazy workers and will not pay anyone for doing nothing.”
“Yes, sir,” Joe obediently said. He knew his Granddaddy meant every word.
Digging irrigation ditches was not an easy job at all, especially in the Texas sun and arid heat. Granddaddy made sure Joe was up and ready to leave the house every day by seven sharp. They stopped for occasional drinks and lunch. If Granddaddy went off and returned to find Joe and his workers talking without digging, in a bellowing voice to be heard by all within fifty feet, Granddaddy sternly said, “Joe, stop dallying around and talking. Get to work. We need this job done today.” As long as the shovel was hitting the ground in a consistent basis, talking was tolerated.
Joe was always relieved when they would finally arrive back to his grandparent’s air conditioned home, and one of Grammy’s home cooked meals that inevitably included some delicious dessert that she had baked that day. Exhausted from a long day of work, Joe anticipated the quiet and relaxing evenings spent sitting in the living room with his grandparents.
“Joe, did you return the twenty dollars you borrowed from your grandmother last week,” Granddaddy inquired.
“Not yet, sir.”
“Well you got paid today, boy. You give her back what is hers now, before you go spending it all.”
“Yes, sir,” Joe sheepishly answered as he retrieved the money and gave it to his Grammy.
The years have come and gone since that first summer, and the following summers that Joe would spend with his grandparents. They are gone now, but the lessons they taught have not died. When Joe sets his mind to some task, it will be accomplished. Joe has provided well for his family and knows the value of each dollar he saves and spends. He has strived to owe no man anything, but love the way his grandparents loved him.
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