The Apple Orchard
The next few weeks were very busy for Tony. Dean Mitchell of the Edgemont College School of Music called and said that he talked to the school administrators and they'd approve Tony's use of the recording studio provided they got a royalty on the discs sold. I asked him to put together a proposal and I'll pick it up and review it with Tony.
Tony used the college's recording booth which resulted in making 4 new discs of the music he created. It was phenomenal, I'd just mention I'd like to hear a song about any subject and Tony could put together the music and lyrics. The Dean and school were very excited about the potential of Tony's success and what it would mean for the school. They offered him a full scholarship to finish his studies.
"Jim, I'm thinking about maybe getting a few more people to form a band as backup to my guitar. What do you think about it?"
"I think that's a great idea but where would you get the musicians?"
"I was thinking about the band that played on Friday night. I thought they were pretty good and probably would be available."
"Why don't you ask them this Friday when you play. If they don't want to do it then you can start putting one of your own together." That got me a kiss and a hug.
The discs I sent to the various radio stations began to pay off. Feedback from the DJs indicated that Tony was on his way to being a big star. He had left the store but I still worked there on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Customers were always asking about Tony's well being and where they could buy his discs. Since many of the local stations were affiliated with larger stations, Tony's discs were beginning to get a wider review. It wasn't long before other agents were calling to represent Tony.
"Jim, I have had two agents call indicating they wanted to represent me. But, I want you to represent me. After all you had confidence in me; you believed in me and look what I've accomplished because of your belief in me. Why can't you be my agent?"
"Tony I can't offer you what professional agents can. I just don't have the experience or the connections. Why don't we interview them together? I promise I'll never leave your side."
There were tears in Tony's eyes, "You promise to be by my side all the time?"
"Yes Tony, no matter where you are, when you turn around I'll be at your side."
Tony just smiled and then he got a devil look on his face. Taking my arm he dragged me to our bedroom. What happened next was pure magic. Tony and I were completely in love, there never would be two just one as far as we were concerned. Our love making that night was beyond everything I or Tony could imagine. There were tears in our eyes and we both knew that no one or nothing would ever separate us.
"Jim, I never want to give up the shack. I want this to be our home forever. It was here where I found love and a home."
I smiled and answered with a kiss.
Our life seems to be bright and rosy but as always when everything is going well, something always comes along to draw a dark pall over our lives. Grandfather took ill and the prognosis wasn't good; grandmother was very upset. We tried to spend as much time as possible with them. Grandfather came home from the hospital but was confined to the bed. In a way grandmother was relieved but she knew that it wasn't good. In the evening when we stopped by, I could tell she was crying. I felt her pain and I remembered what they did for me. I tried to console her but it was difficult. They had been together for a very long time; it was if they were truly one. I didn't want to think about what would happen if grandfather passed on. I think deep down I knew that it wouldn't be long before grandmother joined him and that thought I wouldn't put a voice to.
Tony and I spent a lot of time at my grandparents, except for Friday night when Tony sang at the college and the time I worked at the grocery store. I spent a lot of time with grandfather and Tony carried his share of the load spending time with grandmother. I'd like to think that we were a comfort to them.
It was in the following January that grandfather took another bad spell only this time the doctors said it would only be a matter of time. Grandmother never left his side neither did we. And true to the doctor's word, grandfather passed on. I told grandmother, that grandfather should be laid to rest in the apple grove where he loved to walk and spend time. Tony and I selected a large tree with an overhang and under that tree we laid grandfather to rest. Tony wrote a song and sang it at the resting site. There were tears in our eyes, grandmother's and mine. Tony sang from his heart and anyone listening knew that this was meant for grandmother. I was proud of Tony and in my heart; I renewed my love for him.
Life continued, Tony continue to record in the school's recording studio, he enrolled at the college to receive his degree only now he changed his major to music. Grandmother was doing ok on the outside but I knew she was missing grandfather, I was afraid she wouldn't be with us much longer. You could see grandfather's death weighed heavily on her and under the smiles there was a grief that wouldn't heal. Dad started to spend more time on the farm. I always thought this was odd in that dad was not the son but the son-in-law. I knew grandfather thought very highly of dad. Tony and I spent a lot of time with grandmother on the pretense of learning how to cook. I was hoping that this would help her to cope and for a while it did. I set up my disc player and she would play Tony's music over and over. She played the song Tony sang at grandfathers resting site before she went to bed.
It was 9 months after grandfather passed on that grandmother became ill. The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong, she was in perfect health according to their tests. But Tony and I knew that the grief she held would sooner or later claim her. On the evening of grandfather and grandmother's wedding, grandmother kissed us good night and went to bed. That night grandfather came to claim his bride. In the morning grandmother had joined grandfather.
We laid my grandmother next to my grandfather under that apple tree. Tony told me what grandfather had told him about me owning the farm. "Jim, we need to contact the lawyer in Edgemont to settle the estate."
Two weeks after grandmother was put to rest, we went and saw grandfather's lawyer friend. "There really is no need to read a will because there isn't one. Your grandfather and grandmother turned everything over to you 2 years ago. You are the owner of the farm and the money in the bank has been in your name as a joint account for two years as well. You should go through the mail, collect the bills and have them put in your name. Here is a list of the property, the bank accounts and investment portfolios. Your grandparents must have loved you very much. They made you a wealthy young man."
"I'd give it all away, if I could have them back. I'm going to resurrect the apple farm in their memory."
Driving back to the farm, "Jim, I don't want to live in the farm house. If you want to I'll do it but the shack is where I found love and it's special to me."
"We'll always live in the shack. I'll close up the farm house for now. I'm going to miss them; they took me in, no conditions required. They were very special."
Death of loved ones is difficult to have to face but it's inevitable. So with time and focusing on Tony's career, I came to accept the passing of my grandparents. Accepting is one thing, missing them is another. Whenever I felt depressed because something occurred that reminded me of them, a trip to their resting place was all I needed.
That spring, I contracted a nursery to come and prune the trees, all the trees except the one tree that shaded my grandparents. The trees began to respond, the nursery used a liquid spay to fertilize the trees. They said the liquid would soak the ground and would be easier and faster for the roots to absorb the nutrients in the fertilizer. By the end of spring, the trees looked healthy. Those which were too far gone to respond to treatment where cut down. The wood was sold to a local smoke house and some was kept and sold for use in home barbeque grills.
That fall many changes came into Tony's and my life. Tony's CD's were being sold nationwide and he had made an album that sold over a million copies. The school was delighted with his success. The Friday night band supported him and I was glad that Tony was well on his way to stardom, he deserved it. I quit my job at the store after Mr. Thomas had hired and trained an able replacement. Now I concentrated on the apple orchard. So far Tony has made a few overnight trips but I knew it wouldn't be long before he would be on tours.
"Jim, I need to talk to you about something. They want me to go on tour this summer between semesters at school. What do you think I should do?"
"I think you should do it."
"You'll have to come along as well. One night away from you is about all I can take. What would you do with the orchard?"
"That wouldn't be a problem. Dad wants to stay in the farm house. He can keep an eye on the orchard."
Yes that not only got me a smile but that night was special again.
Tony and the band signed up for a 3 month tour of the US starting the first of June. Tony had told the organizer that he'd only go on tour if his personal manager could go as well. I think they'd agree to anything to keep him happy. They knew that Tony was a gold mine ready to make them all rich.
I spent two weeks with dad, showing him the plans for the orchard, the people to contact and, lastly, gave him the itinerary and my phone number to contact me if a problem arose. The nursery had a contract for a monthly inspection which I left with dad.
Tony and I packed 3 suitcases to take with us. I was glad for the basement storage area under the farm house, there was no way we could have stored all of the clothes and instruments in our shack.
Before we left, we had lunch at Anna's café. She had autograph posters on her walls. She still sold Tony's disc, she said she makes more money from the discs than from the meals. Of course she was kidding, but we kept her in the loop. If a customer wanted to know what was happening with Tony we made sure she knew. We sent her discs and posters to sell. We would even call when the café was open.
"Tony do you remember the first time we ate at the café."
"Yes, Mr. Thomas bought my lunch."
"I've got a secret to tell you. I lied about that, I paid for your lunch and Annie paid for the extra hamburger. I hope you aren't mad; but I couldn't think of any way to get you to eat. You looked hungry and when you said you didn't want to go, I knew why. First day on the job, clothes a little wrinkled, you needed to eat and I was committed to make you eat. Annie saw the way you downed that first burger, and she also knew. Are you mad?"
"No, I'm not mad. You saved my life that day and look what it led to. Why did you wait so long to tell me?"
"Because it's payback; you're paying for lunch today."
Laughing, "I'll pay for your lunch anytime and you can throw in dinner as well."
I didn't care who saw, I grabbed Tony and gave him a toe curling kiss.
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