Jed began pacing the floor shortly after lunch, peering out the kitchen window, watching down the lane and, seeing nothing, he'd walk to the porch, look in the same direction and return to the kitchen, sitting restlessly at the table, until he'd rise and began the process all over again. We'd made a last minute inspection of the gravel trailer pad sites Adam and Bill constructed for me a few years before when I started hosting the family reunions. Each site, eight in all, was equipped with an electrical box, but no water hydrant. The electric would be supplied from our generator, but the water would have to be hauled. If campers used their own toilets in their campers, they'd have to dump the holding tanks in town after they left; I didn't have the septic tank and drain field capacity for all of them.
Grant was still alive, as well as Mom and Dad, when our three families, Roseanne and Jacob and their three sons and Adele and Ted and their two sons, began gathering at the farm just before school started in the fall for one last summer "hurrah." It was a time for our family to reunite and reconnect, continuing the tight bond that glued us together over the years. When Mom and Dad passed away, Roseanne moved to the farm, and we all agreed, rather than burden her with the planning and hosting the gathering, we'd move it to the lake where Grant and I were more than willing to have it. There'd be opportunity for families to camp, young and old could enjoy the lake and surrounding forests, and it gave us the privacy we enjoyed as a family. Those who tented had nice grassy sites, while the campers and motorhomes were placed on the gravel pads. It really worked out quite nicely and we enjoyed it.
Finally, around two o'clock or so, Jed stepped away from the window he'd ensconced himself in front of, grinning with excitement and some little apprehension, by the look in his eyes, and announced, "They're here!"
No sooner had Jed made the announcement to me when Jacob began "tooting" the horn on the motorhome signaling the arrival of guests. Jed and I scurried outside to watch Jacob deftly and expertly back the big rig to site number one; after all Roseanne was the oldest so that site was hers'. We waited patiently, at least I did but I can't say the same for my son, while the motorhome was leveled and the three slide-outs extended. Jacob finally climbed down from the driver's side door to hook up the electricity, the main door opened, and Roseanne and Adele walked out, smiles beaming on their faces, as I hurried toward them. Not a word passed between us as we hugged each other, kissed each other, and rejoiced in our ability to do so. Holding each one in my arms as I hugged, I couldn't help but notice how they've aged and suppressed the sadness in my heart, knowing, realistically we just didn't have that many years ahead of us to be together.
Jed stood shyly back, grinning, waiting his opportunity to step forward to introduce himself to his aunts and uncles. Roseanne beat him to it; holding out her arms, a big smile spreading across her face, ordering quite loudly, "Com'ere you handsome stud and give your old Auntie Rose a hug and a kiss."
He fairly leaped into her arms and, as she wrapped her arms around him, she kissed him and rocked him back and forth, welcoming him into the family, assuring him he was to be loved and cherished, silently pledging to him her love and support.
Adele stepped up, demanding, "Hey, save some of that lovin' for your Auntie Adele. I'm younger, with more vigor, so don't waste all of your energy before you get to me, you good-looking devil."
Turning him to give him the same greeting Roseanne had given him, I could see the tears streaming down his face. Adele, a retired surgical nurse, brought his head to her breast and crooned comfortingly, "It's alright, mon cher, you're not alone anymore. You have a father and a family who love you."
I guess I didn't realize, but should've, what he was feeling since arriving here. After the death of his grandmother the week before, the rejection by his biological mother, and the move, but Adele did, bless her heart. He released all of the pent-up emotion, the grief, the disappointment, and the fears that accumulated in his heart and soul, bringing it all to the surface in deep, sorrowful, sobs. All of her years as a nurse, working with the sick, the despondent, and those with and without hope, gave her that special insight and ability to comfort. It was the love and comfort she gave me when Grant died she now gave to my son.
We all stood quietly, waiting, until he stopped, wiped his eyes and nose, lifted his head, broke away, returned to me, gave me a hug, and said, "Thanks, Dad."
Ted and Jacob introduced themselves, shook hands, stepped aside so Jonathon and Martin could greet their new cousin. They both were hesitant, uncertain whether to shake hands or what, but Jed just leaned forward, gave each a hug, and with a simple, "I'm Jed," made them feel welcome and comfortable in each other's presence.
"What'cha got to drink, little brother," spouted Rose, so we all trooped to the house and for the porch. Those that needed to use the bathroom, taking turns, of course, did, returned and found seats watching Jed already beginning to prepare the ice bucket and gather glasses for drinks. I bustled about gathering up crackers, paper plates, cheese, and other snacks for us to have with our beverages. Before I could sit down, my sisters took my arms, led me to the living room, and away from everyone.
"He's a beautiful young man," commented Roseanne.
Seeing Grant's picture on my desk, Adele said, "Grant would be so proud" and it was my turn to break down. My sisters were as comforting as they always were for me, trying to ease my pain of loss, when their arms were replaced by a very familiar pair of young arms, surrounding me, holding me close, saying, "I'm here, Dad, and so is Uncle Grant – everything is going to be just fine."
I nodded, accepted a Kleenex, blew my nose, and announced, "I really could use a drink," and we joined the others on the porch. Jonathon and Martin enjoyed their long-neck beers while the rest of us enjoyed cocktails, except Jed, who, because of his age, was relegated to sodas.
It was nice having my sisters here and my new son Jed, rejoicing in him with me. As we started our second round of drinks, they began to share with Jed all of the good times we had growing up together on the farm and of my life with Grant. They missed Grant as much as I did, but chose to remember all of the good he did and we enjoyed. Jonathon and Martin just had to tell the story of my lake-side enema, leaving nothing out of this time but the more graphic description of the love-making, but none-the-less, entertained Jed with my reaction to what occurred. He laughed and laughed as one story led to another and then another, until I finally said, "Let's fix supper," stopping our entertainment, for the time being.
We dined on grilled rib eye steaks, the smoked trout pasta dish as a side, garlic bread, and mixture of wild and brown rice. Folding tables and chairs placed on the porch, allowed us to eat in a "room with a view" as we watched the sun glistening off of the lake as it slowly began its' descent into the western sky. Taking time to savor each and every morsel, it gave us additional time to savor each other's company, relishing in the company and conviviality.
Dishes cleaned and put away, we continued our visit until the darkness of night overtook us and Roseanne and Adele excused themselves to the motor home and settled in for the night. Jonathon and Martin sat quietly with Jed and I as the night sounds began to permeate the dark.
"What's that noise?" Jed queried.
I listened a moment, smiled at his question, answering, "It's the generator."
Tucked away in an isolated building, well insulated on the interior and shielded on the outside by a thick copse of American Arbor Vitae, I'd not had the generator running until now, so the sound was abnormal to him and, even though low in volume, emitted a soft humming noise. Once he knew what the sound was, that it presented no danger to us, he yawned, stretched, kissed me goodnight and wished his cousins the same, and went to his room.
Jonathon and Martin, noticing the full moon beginning to make it's acquaintance with the landscape, looked at each other, smiled coyly, looked at me and Martin asked, "Got a couple of towels handy?"
Getting the towels, knowing they were going to do a little skinny dipping with only the moon to lighten the lake and them, I laughed to myself as I watched them walk hand-in-hand to the lake. Reaching the dock, they stripped off their clothes, piled them well away from any danger of splashing water dampening them, and slid into the water. They reminded me of the many times Grant and I would walk to the lake on a hot summer night to cool off. For us, the ideal night was one such as this one, a full moon with a gentle breeze blowing from the lake to keep the mosquitoes well into the woods, so when emerging from the lake, Grant and I could couple without worry of insect bites. I sighed poignantly remembering how Grant would wrap his arms around me from the back, kiss my neck and my lips as I turned to greet his lips, tickling my mouth and teeth with his tongue, sending shivers of delight throughout my body, and begging him as he entered me to kiss me more and more as he began his slow, erogenous massaging of my interior being.
The next morning after breakfast Jed and my sisters cleaned up while Jonathon and I sat at my desk, outlining the changes I wanted in my will to accommodate my son; establishing terms and depths of financial resources I wished pledged to the educational trust to be established for him and any future grandchildren, if any; the changes in all property ownership currently held in my name to include him as owner in equal shares and; the termination of his biological mother's parental rights. Jonathon informed me he'd contacted the attorney that Jed's grandmother had and was in the process of getting all school records transferred and Jed's insurance settlement and trust to name me as beneficiary until his marriage or union with someone else.
Our work took most of the morning. Martin, my sisters, and their husbands graciously allowed us to work uninterrupted, while they entertained Jed with more stories of me growing up and some of the crazy and not so crazy things Grant and I did when we became lovers and partners.
Sunday afternoon, after everyone left, Jed and I collapsed, worn out but absolutely overjoyed with the weekend we just shared with loved ones and his new family.
Summer was spent gardening, preserving garden produce, fishing, hiking, shopping; all those activities families do as families. We traveled to the County Seat for Dairy Days toward the end of June and back again in July for the County Fair.
School was scheduled to begin throughout the state September first, so our family reunion at the lake was two weeks before that auspicious date. Getting ready absorbed extra time and work, but Bill and Adam arrived, offering their help. We put some extra gravel down on the pads, mowed the grass extra close in the camping area to discourage insects, and replaced some of the rocks around the fire pit where the family would gather to swap stories, visit, and enjoy each other's company. I also rented a large tent for our noon potluck, just in case it rained. It would also serve as a shelter from the sun during the day for those who sought the shade.
Campers and motorhomes began arriving the Thursday before the reunion weekend, all anxious to set up, swim in the lake, and begin the festivities. Roseanne and Adele and their husbands arrived Wednesday evening, while Jonathon and Martin drove in early Thursday morning. There was no danger of them having a place to stay; they'd occupy the spare bedroom while Roseanne's motor home occupied Site Number One.
Roseanne and Adele's grandchildren arrived throughout Thursday and Friday, bringing their families, friends, fiancés, boyfriends, girlfriends, and a few pets. When Adele's youngest son, Scott arrived with two of his five children and one guest, Jed met Leah, a friend of Scott's youngest daughters.
Leah was a petite, very pretty, almost delicate, Asian-American with an award-winning smile, bubbly personality, and a quick wit supported by a very bright and inquiring mind. Jed headed for her like a bee to honey and, within minutes, she'd staked her claim on him, although he was convinced it was the other way around. From that meeting, they were almost inseparable the rest of the weekend. Leah came to about Jed's shoulders and his arms fit around her most perfectly. Together for the main meals and all others, the campfire, swimming, you name it, they were a couple. It didn't seem to bother Leah that Jed only had one whole leg while they were swimming and it didn't seem to embarrass him that she saw him that way. His disability bothered her not and he knew it, relishing in her acceptance.
When the reunion was over and everyone finally departed for their own homes, sitting on the porch sipping a glass of wine while Jed nursed a soda, I looked over at a very weary, but extremely happy, young man. He rose, after ditching the soda glass in the sink, gave me a kiss and bid me goodnight. Before he left for his room, I asked,
"Get her phone number?"
He grinned in reply.
"Get her e-mail address?"
Another grin in my direction.
"What do you think of her, Jed?"
His grin turned into a full face, happy, "by God I'm alive" smile, as he replied,
"Awesome, Dad, just awesome!"
I think Grant and I have a son who is desperately, completely in love.
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