The phone and not the alarm woke young Jackson from a sound sleep at two am in the morning. Who could it be? Hopefully not another client with a question that could wait until he got to the office.
“Yes, this better be good,” he said yawning and rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
The voice on the other end was slow but very clear. “It’s your grandfather, I’m afraid he needs to see you immediately. He’s in Grace hospital.”
He didn’t waste time and got to the Hospital on his scooter in less than twenty five minutes time.
“It’s me Papa Link, I’m here,” he said walking into hospital room three seventeen.
He took the large rough hands of the man lying in the hospital bed. They were the hands of a man who worked the soil and all that grows from it. His own hands though softened from being away from the soil, were long and tried to wrap around Papa links hands. He looked at the scars and weathered cuts on them. The eighty-seven year old Head Caretaker of Hildene opened his eyes and smiled. His grandson was here and that was all that mattered.
“Glad you could come. I know you are a busy man.”
“Not too busy for family Papa Link. How do you feel?”
“Never better,” Papa Link answered and coughed into the pillow beside him.
“Okay, then we are going to get you well, wait and see.”
Just then doctor Guntar Lendus came into the room and saw the situation. He motioned that he would wait outside. In another ten minutes he was standing on the other side of the door talking to the doctor in charge. His barrage of questions were answered by the facts. Papa Link had contracted a blood borne disease and the white blood cells were attacking the red cells at an ever increasing rate. They were doing everything but the disease seemed to have a mind of it’s own and was rapidly destroying his body.
“You know he’s eighty-seven years old,” the doctor said looking up from the chart in his hands.
“I am well aware of that Doctor. He’s my grandfather. But he’s always been so healthy. I don’t think he’s been sick more that two times in his life. He got sick just after my father and mother died and once just after I was born. My grandmother died giving birth. He’s had a hard life, and now this doctor?”
“The aggressive treatments for a man of his years and state are out of the question. We could eventually stop the disease but he wouldn’t survive the cure.”
The look of helplessness on the young lawyers face begged for more than this explanation.
“If it’s money, I will get it, somehow. I just want him better. He’s the only family I have.”
Doctor Lendus looked up at the ceiling and sighed. He had done this so many times before almost hoping the answer would fall like rain. He wanted to say it was all right and the man in the bed would be better in a few days. Instead he said, “We can make him very comfortable for this short period of time.” He put his hand on the young man’s shoulder in front of him and gave the best medical advice for the moment.” I think he needs you now.”
The doctor turned and left to see a patient he could help. This left the young lawyer to try and lift that big smile of his, the one that tipped the balance of favour in a courtroom full of doubt. It was the kind of smile that gave people hope. Only now it refused to lift this one time when he needed it most.
“So Papa Link, are you going to grow more of that summer squash this year? I have some time, I can help with the cheese making. You know we make a good team, you and me.” That was all he could get out before he buried his head on the big shoulder of his grandfather and cried. The big man laying down lifted his arm and comforted his grandson. He remembered how he did that once before when his father and mother died in the horrific rail car accident so long ago. The loss of Papa Link’s son brought his grandson to him to raise all on his own. And he did the best job he could on his own. He had a good boy, with a good heart and a will as strong as his own. That same will took him off of Hildene and the land and started him on a law career. He wanted to help people more than he wanted to help the land. Papa Link saw this and had no objection to him living in the east to get his law degree. He had no objection to the young man who left everything to follow his calling. What made Papa Link happy is when he came back and opened his law practice in the town of Manchester.
Papa Link picked up the sobbing head of the young man he was so proud of and said, ” I have something for you.”
“I only need you Papa.”
The dutiful grandson brought back an old leather bound box that had been badly singed by fire. The very light metal underneath was not fazed. It had a sturdy built in lock.
“I don’t have the key,” Papa Link whispered into the ear of his grandson, “It’s not safe here.”