Down on the Farm Ch. 07byRabbitrunner91©
"You'll be heading back tomorrow, I reckon."
"Yes. It's a long drive and I'm expected back by afternoon." Linda replied.
"Is there any chance you could share what your recommendation will be to the banking board? We've been wondering what you thought."
She paused in her eating, looking at Edith and then turned towards me.
"The final decision will be up to the banking officers. A loan this size has to come before them for approval."
"So you're not allowed to say anything to us about your recommendation?" Edith asked again.
All eyes around the table were on her and we waited.
She took a bite and chewed slowly. "Your plan is sound." Was her reply. "However, there's something missing which is needed before it could be approved."
"What's that?" I asked.
"Insurance. A life insurance policy for the value of the loan plus health and disability insurance. These will be a required addition, in my written recommendation."
Mentally my mind re-did the figures. It was doable. The bottom line would be tighter, but doable.
"Edith, Mark, I want to congratulate you on the good work. Coming down here yesterday, I doubted the validity of the proposal. How could these numbers be correct? But today, after looking and talking, it's easy to see that a great deal of thought went into it. You've convinced me. But right now it's up to the bank officers."
Supper was over and she left within a few minutes. An explosion of joy burst forth from everyone and we danced in circles in the kitchen. Edith corralled the girls with dishes and I disappeared to the basement, working on assignments and a book report. Trish slipped downstairs later. Coming up behind me while I sat at the desk, she placed her arms over my shoulders and around my neck. "Your plans are working out for you, Mark."
"OUR plans. You are very much part of this Trish. It won't be complete till you're my wife."
She leaned down and kissed me on the cheek.
Days passed and my energies were put into school work. I'd gotten behind and worked feverishly to catch up. My grades were slipping and graduation coming up. In the evenings Trish was quick to bring her homework downstairs and we worked it together.
I passed my courses and graduated. Mom, Dad and my brothers drove down especially for the Commencement ceremony. Edith made arrangements for them to stay at the house. It was crowded and for three days the house rang with laughter. What seemed interesting was my brothers Ed and Ray took a shine to Becky and Sam. The second evening as we sat talking in the living room, Ray asked Dad for the car keys. "Where are you going?"
"Sam and Becky wanted to show me and Ed around town. Is it okay?"
Dad tossed him the keys. "Take Jim with you and be back before 11." Mom said as they went out the door. The five were gone in a flash.
The next morning the graduation auditorium was packed and I walked on stage, receiving my diploma. Smiles, pictures, and congratulations were the norm afterwards. During the reception Ron and Marj spotted me and walked in my direction. Trish was by my side when they walked up. "We're hearing ugly rumors about the two of you." Marj spoke.
"So what's ugly about it?" I smiled.
"That ring on her finger." Ron said as he lifted Trish's hand.
I looked at Marj, "You said she was a 'keeper' and I took your word for it. Guess I'm stuck now."
"When did he ask you?" Marj asked Trish.
"Two days after homecoming."
"Two days after your first date? You went kinda fast, didn't you?"
Ron entered the conversation for the first time. "Should have heard the comments the next week. A lot of guys were wondering where you had hooked up with this good looking 'babe'. Most everyone knew she was a local gal who attended another college." Looking at Trish, "What's your major, anyway?"
I laughed. "She's working on her MRS degree and she graduates from high school next week."
Ron was in shock. Looking at Trish closely. "You're still in high school?"
Trish nodded vigorously.
"No way, man." He asked Marj, "Did you know?"
"Yes, I thought you did too."
The conversation tapered off as we gave congratulations all around. Their wedding would be out of state so we couldn't attend. Ron was starting a new job and they couldn't be at ours.
In the afternoon I returned to the milking and Dad stood around talking as Trish and I worked. The girls and my brothers finished up the other chores and Mom and Edith talked while the meal was cooked. During supper Ray asked for the car keys again and Dad handed them over. Jim would tag along with the other four, and being the youngest, I'm sure, he felt out of place. After they'd left, Mom spoke up. "Mark, take Trish out too. The two of you need to celebrate. Dad and I'll be fine tonight. Gotta pack suitcases for the trip home tomorrow."
Trish and I hadn't been out together for quite a while. We needed time together alone. The park where I'd asked her to be my wife was special and we walked around the pond holding each other, and an occasional kiss. We talked some, but mostly had our arms around each other. The pressures of the last several weeks had stolen these quiet and private times. Mentally I made note to reserve moments with Trish, moments alone. Assuming the loan was approved, our times together could evaporate in the activity of construction and rebuilding the herd.
"Honey?" I ask.
"I need your help."
"Remind me when I become too busy, that I need to take time out and be with you."
Her eyes are turned toward mine and I catch the corners of her mouth turning up.
"All of the 'plan' and the dairy will mean nothing without you. Don't let me forget to spent time with you, alone."
She buries her head against my shoulder and my arms enfold her, drawing her close. In the distance we hear some steeple bells begin their chime of the hour, followed by a hymn. Gently we sway to the tune as we dance along the path. Twilight has faded and the ducks are quiet and I am holding the woman I love. Returning to the bench we sit quietly and watch the stars appear, at first one by one, then the curtain of night is drawn back and the sky explodes with a million points of light. "That one's for you." I point one out. She squeezes my hand and holds my arm, and we sit like this till it is time to return home.
My folks and brothers left early the next morning and Edith and I spend the next few days working with Trish to pass her final examinations. One class at a time, we coached through her studies and one by one, she passed. Maybe her grades were not in the top of the class, but they were high enough to allow her to graduate. Graduation day she was all smiles. We watched her walk the aisle, in cap and gown, and receive her diploma.
Wedding plans began in earnest with four weeks till the big day. Edith, Trish and the girls often had their heads together discussing invitations, gowns, food, reception, and a million other things. The bank hadn't made a decision, so I waited. My time was busy and the dairy and farm work were a never ending responsibility. Trish and I spent our evenings, after supper, remodeling the basement. With encouragement from Edith, I partitioned the entire basement area. The laundry room was kept as a common area. However, the remainder we divided into a bedroom, living room, bathroom, and tiny kitchenette, plus a small storage area. All the plumbing was in place but additional electrical wiring was required. I put up stud walls, and using sheetrock made the basement into an attractive apartment.
Trish and I were painting one evening and stopped to take a breather. "It's our first home. You won't have to move far."
"Sam and Becky have been fighting over my room. They both want it."
I laughed. "They want separate rooms so as to not have a roommate. You're giving up your room to gain a roommate."
"My new roommate is handsome." Looking into my eyes.
Playfully, "What if he snores?"
"Then I'll make love to him."
"You could get pregnant doing that."
"Good. I hope so."
I give her a quick kiss. "Let's get this room painted before we get into trouble."
Dad called a couple weeks later. "You will be hearing from the bank in a day or two. They approved your loan. The only changes will be with the insurance requirement. Not everyone on the board was happy about it, but Linda's recommendation swayed the majority in your favor. Details will be forthcoming."
Dad was excited and hoped the plan could be worked out satisfactorily. "Is Trish there?" he asked.
"Yes, she is."
"Your Mom wants to speak to her about the wedding."
I called to Trish and handed her the phone. Mom and she talked for a while, making plans and discussing options. While she was on the phone, I find Edith.
"We have a 'green' light. Dad said the loan has been approved."
Becky was listening around the corner and gave out a war hoop.
"What'd I tell you? Call it luck or what ever; good things follow you. Whatever you do, prospers." Edith smiles.
"Planning and lots of hard work. We're not out of the woods yet."
"Don't underestimate yourself, Mark. I believe the Lord is with you and if you follow Him, you'll prosper."
I shake my head in disbelief. "I don't see how."
"You will, believe me. You will."
Trish is off the phone and in her joyous excitement runs into my arms, shouting, "Mark, Mark. You did it. You got the loan. You got the loan. You got the loan."
Gently I calm her down. "Trish, Trish? Shhh. Shhh. We know." We embrace and looking past her hair, I see Becky, Sam and Edith all in smiles. Tonight is a night for celebration.
On the morrow, the phone call was received with official confirmation. Rather than trust a delivery service, Linda had been sent with the papers and would arrive this afternoon. She'd carry the official correspondence and instructions and I was requested to have available our lawyer and 'plan' paperwork to complete all legal requirements. Edith phoned him and passed the message along. Our meeting place would be the family table, the table where so many discussions and decisions had been made. It would only be fitting.
Linda arrived as scheduled and shortly after, our lawyer with a notary. All of the final players were here and we sat together. No formalities were held and the paperwork was passed along from hand to hand as each signed on the appropriate line. It took a total of 15 minutes and then they departed. The plan had been set into motion, now would come the hard work. Now would come the test of our endurance, the test of our will and the test of our faith. Our lawyer had placed the funds into a bank account and I'd be able to draw on them. There was so much work ahead, so much more that need to be accomplished, but my mind was not on these things; my mind was on the shining and glowing face of Trish as she sat across the table from me. How I loved her. Her presence and her love would be the driving force behind the execution of this plan. Others were depending on us to follow through.
Trish and I were married July 8th. We had waited till after the 4th where the 'married' team was soundly trounced. The following year I'd switch sides, but this year the youth of the church were victorious.
The wedding day arrived and we had a large church ceremony. Tradition has it that the groom is not supposed to see the bride on the wedding day until she walks down the aisle. Edith was a stickler for this tradition and, try as I might, I didn't see Trish at all that day until the ceremony. If anyone asked were I nervous, I would have said no. However, there were butterflies in my stomach and I was pacing back and forth in anticipation.
When the time arrived and I stood at the front of the church beside the preacher, I can still clearly see Trish as she is coming down the aisle on Uncle Peter's arm. She literally took my breath away. I had taken a quick breath and found myself holding it as I watched her walking forward. She was absolutely stunning; absolutely beautiful. To think or even imagine that this woman wanted to marry poor and often smelly dairy farmer. This blew my mind away.
For the entire ceremony, I couldn't take my eyes from hers. Correction, I did glance over the audience and from my point of view, every eye was on Trish. Today was her day, she was the queen, her face was radiant, her eyes shone, her personality glowed, and she was willingly becoming my wife. WOW.
The 'plan' had been put into motion and all our energies were invested into it. The two construction projects were started that September. The college Industrial Arts class had broken ground to build our new house and a contracting company began our new milking complex. A few problems were encountered along the way, but both were completed right on time, and the time was at the arrival of our first child. Exactly 9 ½ months after our marriage, Trish gives birth to our son and we name him Howard, Bud for short, after the grandfather he'd never meet.
We kept our promise to the Mr. Johnson and the milk company, our production doubled. The original herd was kept intact and the additional cows were put into the new and separate herd. Edith had her work cut out for her, because we worked hard to keep the butterfat content of the original cows above 4.3%. The new cows were producing a little over 3.5%. She kept good records and tirelessly monitored their production. Their feed was tweaked periodically as she worked to improve their fat content. She was good and I knew it would rise with time.
As Edith held her first grand child she spoke these words. "Mark, your heart is 'right'. Whatever you do, whatever you try is not for selfish motives. I watch you work and your heart is true. The Lord will honor this." Trish and I had 4 other children and our milking business was very successful. Three different dairy periodicals wrote articles about the success we experienced and how the diary industry had prospered in our town. Seeing this success, other farmers in the area branched out to improve their herds.
I kept my promise to Edith, slowly I paid her back for the farm she had used to invest in me. It took almost 25 years and by that time, Trish and I had grandchildren and Edith held her great grandchildren. Edith had been correct, everything I did, prospered. The honor can only go to the Lord.
Did everything work out perfectly? Nah, not really, but through it all, we loved each other dearly. Our love for each other and for every member of our family was the binding glue that kept us together and made our lives worth every minute of it.