Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: fathers (06/06/05)
By Karen Deikun
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One thing did surprise me though. My daddy put a mortgage on the land for half its value and gave the money to my brother. He was the older son – he should have had first place on the land, but all he wanted was the money. He said he needed to buy things and party with people to make his dreams come true. I figured that Dad never expected my brother to come back. Lord, how we worked to pay that mortgage! My wife and three kids all worked hard right alongside Dad and me. The sad thing was that every now and then I’d see my dad look up from his work and scan the horizon. I knew he was watching and hoping for Bill to come over the hill. I told him time and again – it wasn’t going to happen. Bill was never coming home.
From time to time we’d hear about my brother. He made a big name for himself for awhile, but then it was rumored he’d gotten himself into drugs. My sons and my daughter were growing up - I didn’t talk or think about my brother. I had my wife, my family, and my father’s love. We’d paid off the mortgage and one day I’d inherit the land. Things were good - except that my father kept looking out into the horizon, waiting.
One day while Dad was doing just that, a figure appeared, topping the hill, walking slowly toward the farm. My father lit out running. Running! An old man like that! I thought he’d fall down, but something – maybe joy – kept him going. It was Bill; sick and thin with matted hair and two weeks of unshaved beard, smelling worse than the barn. But Dad just threw his arms around him and started to cry. They walked toward the house, right past me, as if I wasn’t even there. Next thing I knew, we were having a party.
I should’ve been happy, but I wasn’t. I felt mad - angrier than I’d felt when he left. I’d stayed with my father and worked all this time. Where was my party?
My father saw it all in my face. He hugged me. I could feel the love in the strength of those arms around me.
“He threw it all away, Dad. He threw us away.”
“I know. I know.”
I’d hated my brother for the pain he caused my father. All that time, my father just kept loving him and waiting for him. Looking across the room at my three kids, I wondered how I’d feel if one of them walked away – not from the farm, but from me. I guess I’d be just like Dad - watching - always watching - for my child to come home.
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