The group of three siblings, two men and one woman, sat across from the lawyer, realtor and the owner of the chicken ranches purchasing the property soberly. The lawyer explained paper after paper, form after form and someone, properly his paralegal or secretary had thoughtfully flagged each place their signatures were required. Each sibling had a pen ready in hand to sign, two in their right hands, one in their left. One of the first indications th
ough siblings, they were not completely alike.
The oldest, Clint was only older by a year from his sister, Leigh, but they were evenly matched in how their bodies were handling the approach of their 50’s. Clint stood 5’7 and Leigh 5’4. Both their hands showed the signs of the arthritis they would be plagued with in the years ahead, a genetic gift of their father though their hands themselves physically resembled their mothers. Though both palms showed hardened pads and toughen up skin indicating they were capable of and did some manual labor it was clear also they didn’t earn their living that way. They were close enough in age, just under a year apart, to be twins. Both had dark hair but Leigh’s eyes were dark brown like their father, while Clint’s behind the colored contacts he wore to make them match were one blue and one green. A physical trait that closely came to match their mother’s grey eyes. Both bodies showed evidence of their having been heavier but they were now only stereotypically the body type of a person approaching the downside of middle age. Clint was left-handed and as usual, seriously attentive to each word spoken and each paper signed. Leigh glanced frequently at both brothers. She was the peacemaker, the mother hen and the one in a wheelchair, the legs under the table crooked and useless.
The youngest sibling, Timothy, was thin and a near carbon copy of their father. He was 6’6 with a hard body that showed physical toil. His hands were larger, rougher, the hands of a man who worked hard with them for a living. He was in his early 30’s and the pen in his right hand was gripped tightly. So tightly in fact Leigh worried he would break it at any second. Anger seemed to radiate from him in visual spirals. His dark hair was already receding from his wide forehead and the top of the back of his head already showing a bald spot approximately the size of a half-dollar coin. Tim was a farmer and a one of the few full time farmers left in the county.
It only took about twenty minutes to finish the paperwork and the lawyer passed them their checks, everyone shook hands and the group filed out. The siblings moved out into the parking lot and by unsaid agreement settled into Leigh’s van. No one wanted to part, their times together were few these days for they were scattered across the state now. Tim, was the first to break the small talk with the obvious.
“Guess this is it then.”
Leigh glanced at him in the rearview mirror, “The last bit of physical evidence he was here, except for us.”
Clint sighed, “Yes and notice only Leigh had children and they won’t carry on his name.”
“He was a real piece of work. And this is what we have to show for it, a lousy $4000, Leigh’s handicapped forever, Clint’s off at the end of the state and I’m busting my tail to earn a living on the farm.” Tim punched his palm.
“Guys we have to handle this for our own best. We are what we make of ourselves.” Leigh offered.
Silence fell over the three again. Then Tim sighed, “I just don’t get it. Why did he hate us? What is so great about his other family? Rex is in and out of rehab and has been for as long as we’ve known him. Terri’s been married four times, in competition with her mother. Dana and her brood and her alcoholic husband…and then their black widow mother…he loved them! Them! Not his own sons and daughter. Not his wife!”
“It was his choice Tim.” Clint offered.
“A lousy one!” Tim countered.
Again the silence fell. Then almost as if a signal had been given the three let out a deep sigh.
“All the physical things that bound us to him are over. That little patch of pine laden earth passes on to someone else.” Leigh remarked. “What’s more,” she continued, “we’re correcting the worst of his sins in our own way. We’re not passing on his parenting to someone else, his evil is buried with him.”
“You know how when someone dies people bring in food and gather in the home, talking about the recently departed?” Tim quipped.
“Your way of saying let’s go eat lunch?” Clint chuckled.
“My way of saying let’s have a decent meal, cash our checks and move on.”
“Chinese?” Leigh offered, starting the van’s engine.
“That’s fine.” The brothers agreed.
As the van was pulled into the traffic headed east, Leigh spoke the final words the siblings would speak that day about the man they grew up calling, “Daddy”. “He sure wasn’t a Psalm 1 father was he?”
Again the three nodded in agreement.