I drove the last nail into this barn the day he was born. I built it strong so it would last many years, carefully placing each board and using only the best materials. My dream was to then hand it and the farm over to my newborn son. Now, because of it, the dream is gone.
As I opened the door to the barn I stood motionless, shocked by the sight before me. On the dirt floor of the barn lie Mathew lifeless body. Falling to my knees beside him I cursed the heavens for taking my son from me. As my eyes looked upward I saw the loft, Mathew must have been playing on the huge rafters that ran across the top of the barn and slipped, falling to his death. As I cradled him my mind relives the short, but wonderful life I shared with him.
Every job we have done to and in this barn was filled with fun and loving memories. Without effort my mind remembers so much, like the day when Mathew and I jumped from those very rafters to the hay softened loft below. With each jump we completed the task of loading a wagon parked in the through fare below.
"Work doesn't necessarily have to be hard." I told him, "if you mix it with a little fun."
Last week the barn was given a fresh coat of paint. We dreaded the task and talked for days of a way to make the job fun. Finally, we came up with a plan. We invited the youths from local families to the property. After giving each of them money to buy paint, their choice of color, we asked them to return the following weekend for a painting party. Saturday morning all 30 arrived, each carrying their choice of color, and soon the party began. Within 3 hours the barn was completely painted, bearing the colors of 30 different shades, it was a sight to behold. That evening, after the group departed, Mathew and I stood looking at the barn.
"Dad," he said "I love the way you have taught me to live and I can't wait to teach this way of life to my children some day."
I felt like the luckiest man on earth. Blessed beyond dreams by this young man who stood before me, proud that he called me 'dad'.
The fire was hot around me and I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. As I lifted him into my arms the flames grew rapidly, quickly they equaled the force of the burning I held inside. I carried his lifeless body outside praying that my stream of tears wouldn't extinguish the fire as it roared in my mind.
I watched the fire burn and with each crack, each new burst of flame a moment came to life in my mind and was burnt, forever, into my memory.
Copyright April 1995 BAHumbert
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