Frances barely got out of bed anymore. If he did, it was very briefly to make Antonio feel better. As much as Antonio wanted Frances to live forever, he knew Frances was leaving him. He often comforted himself with memories of the time he first arrived there. Frances and Ruth was so grateful for the opportunity to love and care for him. They taught him to focus less on the anger he felt from losing his parents and entire village to paying more attention to what he had gained from them and what he had to look forward to. So much time had passed since then. Antonio was about to face yet another chapter in his life.
Early one morning Frances called out for Antonio to call for his good friend Paul. Antonio immediately saddled his horse and started down the dusty road to Paul’s house. When Paul saw Antonio, he read the desperation on his face and wasted no timed gathering some items and papers into his bag. Paul saddled his horse and they rode with haste back to Frances.
Once at the house Paul went straightway into Frances’s bedroom and kneeled down sat at his friend’s bedside. “Talk to me good friend, is it time,” he asked?
Frances nodded and asked Antonio to give him and Paul some time to talk.
Antonio then went out to the barn to work. He hauled hay, fed the animals, and made supper. Antonio was frustrated so being busy helped. He knew Frances was dying, but there was nothing he could do. Each day his cough got worse. He barely ate what Antonio gave him and his body felt hot. With all that going on he never complained and told Antonio to let it be whatever had gotten a hold of him was too far gone.
The evening had fully come when Paul finally came out of the room. Antonio offered him supper and they ate in silence mostly. Paul looked tired so Antonio didn’t want to ask too many questions, he was just grateful he was there. He offered Paul his room to rest for a while. Paul refused thanking Antonio for his hospitality, instead he told Antonio that he should sit with Frances that night. Paul said he would stay with them that night he felt Frances’s time would be soon. Paul placed his hand on Antonio’s shoulder and told him he has done well taking care of Frances.
“Frances, my friend has had a broken heart since his darling Ruth passed.”
Antonio washed up and then went in to Frances. To his surprise Frances was sitting up in the bed, but he still looked overly weak. His eyes were droopy; his sadness seem to have aged him. The once sturdy frame was frail and could barely support itself.
Antonio sat close to Frances, “I guess this is what you were preparing me for.”
“Yes, my son that is right. I have saved my last bit of strength to bless you before I pass on.”
“Please forgive me if I don’t feel prepared,” said Antonio allowing the tears to roll down his cheeks.
“Oh, but you are prepared my son. You have become a man full of integrity who has managed his anger and now ready to carry out the legacy of what this family stands for. I stayed around Antonio to see you mature and handle the land. Life brings the same sorrows; I have no doubt that you can’t handle that too. I have blessings for you. Take my hands son.”
Antonio did as he was told and took both of Frances’s hands in his.
“Today I give you three gifts in one. I give you this land. It is all that I have, but it holds all that you need. You will sow and reap. It will reward you with the means to care for yourself and a family. If you listen carefully it will guide you in all wisdom, you will gain strength by the fruit it bears. You Antonio are the legacy of this family. Never doubt you are the rightful owner of all that Ruth and I have. I have loved you before I knew you and now have to leave and let you live. These papers are the deeds to this land and there is another paper to direct you who to do business with. My friend Paul will be here for you. You can trust him Antonio.”
Paul gently touched Antonio’s shoulder the next morning. “Your father is gone Antonio. Let me help you bury him next to Ruth.”
Antonio looked at Frances. He looked peaceful, like he had had a pleasant dream. Antonio knew it was time to be strong so he and Paul buried Frances right next to Ruth. Paul said he would stay another day with Antonio, but Antonio urged him to go home.
That night Antonio couldn’t make himself go into the house, he sat on the land looking up in the sky waiting for what it would tell him.