Jumbled, frazzled unclear thoughts clung to the inside of the crusty old head of his. He sipped the cola from the sweat beaded bottle as he watched the busy. Boy, this cola sure is a treat. He sipped again. He rubbed the dry skin over his bushy white eyebrow and thought about doing some work. He thought better.
Done my fair share of that. Besides, getting up now would only let his cola warm up. It was that sweet temperature right above freezing. Don’t want to waste anything as precious as that. Nope, he’d sit right where he was. Let the folks run around like a bunch headless fowl before the plucking. Samuel Archibald O’Leary was plum right where he wanted, and damn the man that would have it otherwise.
He sat on his front porch, rocking in the chair, not a concern other than finishing this refreshing ice-cold soda. His knotted knuckles kneaded the neck of the nectar’s bottle as he thought of the time when he needed to be in the bustle.
His back, straight and strong, his eyes keen and sharp, his hair, dark and thick, his mind, clear and sure, Samuel was a sight. He worked from the hours when the clouds had lowered from the heavens in the silver of night to earth until they held court high in the yellow blaze above the fields he hoed.
O’Leary worked many a pack animal under with his strength and will. Wasn’t a man on God’s green that rivaled him in getting things done. Not one. Nothing ever came between his work and his self. He’d kiss his ma’s cheek every morn on his way out and kiss her forehead on his way to bed every night.
No time for nothing. His ma would say it weren’t right. That her dearest child should find a companion and strike out on his own. To make a fortune for himself. Samuel kissed her cheek and would just smile.
“Time enough,” he said, what he always said. “Time enough for that mess when it’s time for that.”
Whether there was time enough or not, time rested less than Samuel. His mother grew old and frail. One particularly misty morning lent her spirit to the white clouds around their little home. With the rising sun, she left with them on gossamer wings to the sky above.
Samuel O’Leary placed the pennies on her eyes and went to work the field with a heavy heart. He worked longer, all day until the clouds came back down, and he was lost in their wet chill. He took his ass to the barn to remove its harness. He gave his hardworking mule oats and water enough for this day and the next. The field disappeared beneath the mist glowing in the moon.
“Time enough.” Tomorrow, he would find his way to an undertaker. It would cost him a day’s labor. That was why he worked so long this day. His mother lay at rest in her bed, and he must tend to her. The haze hung over the rows he seeded, the wispy fog spun around the farmer.
He knew his way home. The dense fog gloaming as he traveled through didn’t seem to hide the path. Instead, it showed him something he’d missed. He noticed the aches in his back and hands, the smooth, soft skin replaced by something loose and resembling leather.
Samuel looked at his hands, the hair on them grey, his skin wrinkled and worn. He rubbed the scraggy scruff of his cheeks and noticed his flesh a bit looser. His stride held little spring, and he hunched forward a little, not as straight as he once walked.
His door waited to be opened as he stepped to the shed. Trembling, he opened it. His mother was as he left her. Resting peacefully, as she now would be for all time. He kissed her forehead and wished her good night before turning in.
Samuel Archibald O’Leary smiled as he watched the busy fly past. He sipped on that cola, right on the edge of ice. It was a simple pleasure, one Samuel wished he held longer. He placed his empty bottle on the porch. People never seemed to spare a moment, things to do, places to be, and concerns that must be addressed. He was okay with that. He was content to watch. He had time enough for that.