Shawn and Bryan were dressed and about to head downstairs to dinner when Bryan stopped Shawn.
Bryan was still confused about what was going on with Kaleb. He understood Caleb had lost his husband but how did he figure into this?
As they walked out of the bedroom, Bryan tapped Shawn on the shoulder and motioned him over another room upstairs. When they walked in, Shawn saw a U.S. flag folded into a triangle in a handmade oak display case. On the left of the flag was a picture of Sgt. Christopher Gilmore’s headstone, complete with service decorations. On the right was a picture of the honor guard standing close to the casket as it was being lowered into the grave.
The shelf below was pictures of Caleb and Christopher’s wedding. As Shawn approached, he realized that Christopher looked a lot like him. The lightbulb went on in his head.
“Oh my God Bryan, I look like his dead husband.”
“Yeah Shawn, you do. That’s why I was adamant about us wearing clothes to dinner. Kaleb didn’t realize it until I made the reference to Christopher.” Bryan said quietly.
“Thank you for making sure that I got dressed for dinner. Sitting there naked, I would have been a vivid reminder of Christopher. It would be hell for him. Just me being there is going to be enough.”
“I know. I had Patty try her best to talk him out of being here tonight. She’s like a sister to me. She grew up down the road and when she told her parents that she was a lesbian and wasn’t going to be staying on the farm, she got kicked out. I offered her a place here and she’s all but become the lady of the house. I think running the house and farm satisfies her mothering nature. Christopher’s death happened during our first big winter storm. If she hadn’t been here to watch over him, I don’t know if he’d still be here. I was out all night rounding up the cattle and getting them into the barns. The storm hit earlier than forecast and it was intense from the start.”
Bryan was interrupted by Patty yelling up the stairs asking if they were gonna keep yakking or if they were going to come down for dinner.
“Be right down Patty!” Bryan yelled down the stairs then turned to Shawn, “I told you she is the farm’s mother.” They headed downstairs with Bryan giving Shawn the very abridged tour of the main floor of the house.
As they turned into the dining room, Shawn let out a gasp as he hadn’t been expected a full formal dining room with hardwood floors and an oak table that would comfortably seat 12.
Bryan let out a laugh, “We rarely use this dining room. The house was built by former missionary and so he had the house built with a formal dining room for entertaining visiting ministers and missionaries. There’s a formal room as well that used to had a piano in it. Patty and I turned it into a living room instead. It was the one room this house didn’t have.”
Patty motioned them in and they sat down. Bryan was at one head of the table and Patty was at the other. There were new people at the table and Bryan went around introducing them. Drew and Nick were from down the road and worked on the farm. They had lost their farm in the farm crisis in the 1980s and decided to stay out of the business. Drew and Nick were looking to rebuild the family farm and were working on the farm to gain experience. Jen was an agri-business major from Iowa State in Ames who working an internship on the farm mostly shadowing Bryan and Patty. She offered a sounding board for Patty and Bryan as well as offering her input on the day-to-day management. Shawn had already met Kaleb and Patty. He made a mental note that in spite of dinner being “clothing optional” everyone was fully dressed and the dining room was quite warm.
As everyone got settled, Bryan asked for a moment’s silence for a prayer to be said. He bowed his head and began to pray.
The farmer works the fields with the power of his hand.
The power from the sky above brings harvest to the land.
The forces in the earth can take the seeds and make them strong,
And magnify the power of the sun.
By the sun, the rain, the wind and the earth,
The farmer is in harmony with the land.
May you all be blessed!
As Bryan closed the prayer, all around the table except Shawn said “Blessed Be!”
Shawn had been a bit nervous before this, but he’d never seen Bryan be at all religious so an energetic prayer and response was discomforting. He didn’t have much time to think about it as Bryan taking his seat set the table in motion as plates were filled and dishes passed.
Shawn made a note to himself to ask Bryan about it later but soon forgot about it as he started eating. Patty had pulled together an amazing meal from seemingly nothing. He understood why Bryan had kept her working on the farm.
It was about an hour later as the third round of dishes got passed around that Patty and Bryan brought out two pies still steaming from the oven. They set down the pies and Bryan walked over to Shawn and dropped down to one knee.
Other Wednesday Briefers posting this week: