The Road Not Taken
Rosemary looked up as Josiah entered the kitchen. Though he looked significantly better for the chance to freshen up a bit, the look of sadness on his face made her heart ached.
She smiled encouragingly at him.
"The food smells good," he said politely as he tried to smile. She could see that his smile didnt reach his eyes.
She indicated the bar stool beside hers at the counter, "Sit, lets eat."
She had put together a quick lunch of omelets and salad for them.
They ate in silence for a couple of minutes.
"This is very good Rose."
"Thank you." Its after three oclock. I would imagine anything would taste good right now. She watched him from the corner of her eye as they ate.
Josiah looked battered, both physically and emotionally. She wondered as to the wisdom of the instructions she had left with her eldest son.
Josiah was aware that Rosemary was watching him but he was too numb mentally to wonder why. Right now he just wanted the dull aching sensation in his chest to go away.
Once they finished eating, Rosemary began taking the dishes away.
"Here let me do that," he offered.
"Alright. Im making tea for myself but if you want more coffee I can make some."
"No, tea will be fine."
She filled the kettle and plugged it in, as she reached for the tea, she asked, "Would you like anything else? I have cake, pie, squares..."
"How do you manage to stay so slim?" he asked a little astonished.
"Well, I always have a little something extra on hand when Sam comes home. He seems to enjoy home cooked meals, and when he is here, he often brings home last minute guests for supper. I have more than usual right now, our friends and neighbours brought quite a bit of food over when Craig passed away."
There was a brief awkward silence as the mention of Craig Morales.
"Rose, Im sorry. I never even thought to offer my condolences."
"Thank you," she looked away blinking rapidly to stave off threatening tears. "Craig had cancer. He fought it bravely for eighteen months but in the end in the end his death was a relief for all of us. Craig was released from the pain and the rest of us were released from the helplessness we felt watching him " Tears gathered in her eyes as she allowed herself her own grief for a moment.
Josiah reached down and drew her gently into his arms. He wrapped his left arm comfortingly around her shoulders while his bandaged right hand caressed her hair as she rested her head against his broad chest. "Rose Im so sorry," he whispered.
This man was the same Josiah from twenty-seven years ago, gentle, reassuring, and so easy to lean on.
She looked up at him and was reminded of her son. Sam was so much like him, capable, understanding and so very comforting. Sam wasnt as serious as his father was but then she was fairly sure Sam had grown up with far more laughter in his life than Josiah had.
The kettle whistled as it came to a boil. Josiah released her from his arms as she wiped away her tears before pouring the water for tea.
"I gather you didnt become a priest?" she asked, cautiously.
"You never married?"
Was it because of me?
"I was tempted a couple of times but with Hannah, my work, my community volunteer work and a little political activism, I was never sure Id have the time to devote to a marriage." He sighed before continuing, " and I seemed to be attracted to women whose lives are just as full."
She handed him his drink and looked up at him as he looked down at her. They froze starring at one another for a moment before they both turned away. They were both a little dismayed at how easily they confided in each other even after so many years.
Wanting to put that moment behind them as quickly as possible Josiah cleared his throat and asked, "Where do we go from here Rose?"
She didnt answer right away.
"Sam wants to meet you."
Startled he looked at her again. He wasnt sure he had heard her correctly. "He" wanted to meet him! The thought rolled wildly around in his head.
"He wants to meet you," she repeated, "and he hasnt much time left."
"Much time?" he asked blankly.
"Hes only got a few more days of leave left," she explained.
"Id " He stopped and looked up at the sound of a car door slamming very near by.
"Hes here," said Rosemary gently.
"Whos here?" he asked confused.
"What?" His voice reflected his bewilderment, things were happening too fast.
"I asked David to bring Sam back here after they got Ben, Becca and the boys settled in at home."
She saw panic rising in his eyes.
"Its alright," she said quickly, attempting to reassure him. "You dont have to see him now if youre not ready."
"No I " he stammered. Dear god!
She put her hand on his arm to get his attention. "Josiah, I can ask them to leave if you want."
He looked down into the brown eyes that looked up at him. They held only concern for him right now. There was no urgency in her manner. She wasnt going to push him into this meeting if he wasnt ready.
"No " he said shaking his head gently. "I want to meet him but but Im not sure I dont want to be a disappointment to him," he admitted.
She smiled gently and reached up to caress his cheek with her fingers. "You wont be," she said confidently. She took him by the hand. They walked through the house together and out the front door.
They saw him waiting beside Davids jeep, standing with his back to them. He stood tall and straight, his feet apart, hands in the pockets of his slacks, his shirt was stretched smooth over his broad shoulders. David was beside him, leaning back against the jeep with his arms crossed over his chest. David saw them step out of the front door and stop on the front step. He looked up at his younger brother and said something to him.
Josiahs breath caught in his throat.
There was a hint of a smile in the, oh so familiar features, as he approached them. His manner was unhurried but to Josiah it seemed as if he was suddenly standing in front of him. He held out his hand. "Mr. Sanchez," he said in a quiet, deep voice.
Gazing up at him Josiah automatically put his hand out.
"Its good to meet you sir," he said as he shook the elder mans hand.
Unable to speak for the lump in his throat, his eyes misting over with tears, Josiah let go of the younger mans hand and after hesitating at first he put his hands on his sons shoulders. He just looked at him while he tried to find his voice. "My son," was all he could manage to whisper.
Sam responded by smiling broadly back at him. "Yes sir I am."
Rosemary was suddenly aware that David was beside her. She looked up at him through her own tears. He gave her a wink and a gentle smile as he put his arm around her shoulders and guided her down the front walk to his jeep.
Father and son never noticed them leave.
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