The next day, we had our usual evening meal with all of us present. “With all of us here,” I said, “the cabin is getting crowded.”
I noticed that Hiram looked troubled at this, but I continued on.
“I think we should build on to the back for bedrooms for Adolphus and Andrew.” They had been sleeping on pallets in front of the fireplace.
Adolphus nodded in what I took to be assent.
“Please, Caleb, what about us?” Hiram was plaintive, and I understood his troubled look earlier.
“Don’t worry—we’re not going to send you away.”
“That’s what I thought when you said it was too crowded here.”
“I apologize for giving you that impression. You are part of this family and always will be.”
“That’s good to hear,” Clinton told us. “We didn’t know how you regarded us.”
“Have no fear,” I said. “We’ll take the pump porch to make room for you.”
“That’s wonderful,” Hiram answered.
“No, it’s you boys who are wonderful.” Laurel spoke thoughtfully. She looked around. “All of you are wonderful, and we are so blessed that you are all here.”
We sat a while longer, talking and laughing and then drifting off one by one to go to sleep. I was the last one left, and I took myself to engage in a practice I had gotten into since my return from the war. I went out and sat on a large stump in our front yard and faced the forest, waiting for the moon to rise. At first it was a glow behind distant limbs, then throwing a sliver of itself past the tree line, then growing to its full round and silvery form. I found this calming, and as I sat there, I thought of all I had been through in the past several years. First there was joining up and all the excitement, then being captured, learning to play baseball and being drawn into a spying scheme, my several escapes, slogging through months of fighting and the end of the war. I had met many find people, some of whom are no longer with us. I lifted my cup of apple cider to them in a toast, thinking, here’s to you, my friends. You have made my life beautiful and I am grateful for your presence in my life. And thank you, God, for all you have given me. Amen.
October 1, 2018—March 30, 2019