The sun was warm on the sombre faces of ten-year-old twins, Holly and Steve. Their legs swung carelessly over the edge of the old rustic fence. Aunt Mary shuffled past with her black veil held tightly against her chin, barely noticing the children.
Steve’s voice was solemn and quiet. ‘Holly, do you remember last summer when Grandpa fell into the river trying to reel in that big trout?’
Holly laughed unexpectedly. ‘Yes, my sides hurt from laughing while he was explaining to Mother how he got so wet.’
Uncle Peter hurried past with his weeping wife and two protesting young children tagging along behind. He glared at Holly and shook his head in disgust before hurrying up the drive. Steve and Holly tried to stifle their giggles as they watched the small family group approach the house.
Holly laughed again as she remembered. ‘We never did get to eat fish for tea that night.’
‘Hello Holly. Hello Steve.’
The twins smiled and waved back to their cousin Gerald. His father grumbled and prodded Gerald in the direction of the house.
Quite a few relatives lived nearby and sometimes they walked the short distances between the farms and their community church but visits weren’t common. They were all busy with their own lives, their own farms.
Holly frowned. ‘Do you think Grandpa ever found out I was the one who hid his tobacco?’
Steve grinned at his sister. ‘Probably, he always said he had eyes in the back of his head.’ He threw his head back and snorted, almost losing his balance in the process and sending them both into fits of uncontrollable laughter.
Mr Snyder, the owner of the farm that adjoined theirs, drove his rattling pickup truck in the direction of the open gate and stopped almost directly in front of Steve. ‘You children should have more respect for the dead. For pity sake, I can hear you from my front door.’ With that, he accelerated toward the grass area where other vehicles were parked haphazardly under trees.
The twins were silent for a few moments before Steve spoke again. ‘I don’t think Grandpa ever liked Mr Snyder.’
Holly smiled, trying to smother another giggle. ‘Remember when Mr Snyder let our cows out of the back field and Grandpa chased him with his shot gun?’
‘Yes, that was funny, especially since Grandpa had forgotten to buckle his trouser belt before leaving the outhouse.’
The twins were continuing their banter when they noticed their father strolling up from the barn toward them. Work still needed to be done, even if Grandpa’s funeral had been held earlier that morning.
‘Hey you two. What’s the joke?’
‘Holly and I were talking about Grandpa. Sorry Dad.’
‘Dad, why is everyone mad at us?’ Holly asked sadly.
‘Because, my sweet child, no one knew Grandpa like you both did…and like I did, for that matter. Even your mother could tell you a story or two.’ He leaned up against the fence between the twins and nodded in the direction of the house. ‘Not one of these guests will miss Grandpa after today.’
‘They didn’t really know him.’ Steve said this more as a statement than a question.
‘No Son, they didn’t.’
‘That’s sad’, Holly concluded.
Their father looked up and scanned the fields.
The children turned their heads to follow his gaze.
‘I remember when I was about your age,’ he began. ‘Your Grandpa worked the farm completely on his own. One day, Mr Snyder let his cows into our corn field. Your grandfather decided from that day on, he would get revenge. It was never anything serious. They both got over it soon enough. Grandpa’s funny antics were really something to witness.’ He finished with a short, choked laugh and wiped his hand across his eyes.
Holly and Steve jumped down from the fence and walked hand-in-hand with their father back through the gate. The trio didn’t enter the house full of mourners. Instead, they headed for the corn field which was now ready for harvest, and then on to the fields beyond. Their laughter echoed across the farm.
© Chrissy Siggee