My name is Cal. I’m here on my uncle Ted’s ranch. He’s not doing too well, I’m afraid. The doctor doesn’t think he will last much longer. That saddens me. Uncle Ted is the closest thing I have for a father. My own father died when my mother was pregnant with me so I never knew him.
Based on what she has told me, he sounded like he was an extremely good and decent man. He was Uncle Ted’s older brother. They were very close as kids. They shared the same interests and liked the same girls. I found out later that Uncle Ted was in love with my mother but she married my father.
Uncle Ted was there for my mother when my father died. He helped her financially and emotionally. He took care of both of us. He helped my mother to raise me. He encouraged my mother to move to the ranch but she hesitated, thinking that it wouldn’t be proper for a widow to be living with a man. So, my uncle asked her to marry him. She accepted.
At first, I thought Uncle Ted was my father but he explained that he was my uncle and told me about my father. Uncle Ted showed me photos of him. I bear a striking resemblance to him. Uncle Ted taught me how to ride a horse, how to care for the horses. He taught me how to drive a car and a tractor. He taught me everything I needed to know about ranching. I loved living on the ranch and I believed that it was something that I would do for the rest of my life. Ranch life was all I knew. It was in my blood.
This year we worried that waving winter wheat was going to be a problem because of the heat wave we have been having. The wheat is very close to being harvested but the heat could be affecting it. The crop was still filing up the heads of wheat with seeds when the heat wave happened which could impact the amount of seeds in the heads and the quality of the seeds which can be smaller in size and have less nutrients. I was still hopeful though, that we would have a good crop, in spite of the heat.
Uncle Ted isn’t worried. He said, “I think it’s going to rain and that will help to keep the grains growing.” And he was right. It rained for a couple of days and thankfully we didn’t have a crop failure due to the heat. My mother said it was God turned what could have been a really bad start to our winter wheat crop which could have put our ranch in jeopardy because we depend on wheat pasture for cheap feed and raising the prospect of higher beef prices in the summer by sending the much needed rain. And as a result, we can feed our cattle and keep our ranching running.
I believed in God but I wasn’t as devout as my mother who was raised in a Catholic home. When I was little, she took me to church every Sunday. When I was eighteen, I stopped going because I was bored out of my mind and I didn’t feel connected to the service or anything. It all seemed ritualistic to me. I didn’t say that to my mother, of course. Her Catholic faith means the world to her. I read the Bible occasionally and pray a couple of days a week.
Uncle Ted isn’t a practicing Catholic although he attends Mass every Sunday with her. He told me that my father was an altar boy at the age of seven until he was 17. He had even considered becoming a priest but then, he met my mother and changed his mind. I must admit that I’m glad he did. It’s too bad, I never got to know him. I think we would have gotten along very well.
My thoughts are interrupted by Luna, Governor Jimenez’s beautiful daughter. Like an ethereal being, she’s standing there with my horse, Dexter. For some reason, my mother doesn’t approve of her. “Mama, what do you have against Luna?”
“She’s not cut out to be a rancher’s wife,” she told me.
“Mama, I don’t want to marry her,” I would argue. “I just want to date her.” Marriage was the farthest thing on my mind. I was twenty-eight, for Pete’s sake. If I decided to get married, it probably won’t be until I was forty.
“Well, when you do decide to marry, I hope it will be Marie and not this Luna.” Marie was farmer Benson’s eldest daughter. She was a very attractive woman but, she didn’t get my pulse racing like Luna.
Smiling now, I walked over to her. She really was quite stunning. “Hello, Luna.”
“Hello, Cal. You look like a cowboy wearing that hat. Very sexy and attractive. I always had a weakness for cowboys.”
“I’m a rancher not a cowboy.”
“Well, then, I have a weakness for this particular rancher with the most incredible blue eyes.”
I chuckled. “So, to what do I owe this pleasure?”
“My parents wanted me to personally invite you, your uncle and your mother to have dinner with us tomorrow evening.”
“We would be delighted to come, thank you.” I was speaking for myself and my uncle but not my mother. I doubted that she would relish the idea of spending an evening with Luna and her parents. I had a few Bible scriptures which I could use on her, though. I smiled at the thought. She was always quoting scriptures at me. Now, it was my turn.
“My parents will be delighted.”
“And what about you?”
“Of course, I’m delighted too. Maybe you and I could go for a walk along the beach and watch the sun set or we can go for a dip in the ocean.”
“Both of those ideas sound very good to me.” I couldn’t wait.
“You have a beautiful horse here. What’s his name?”
“I’d like to ride him some time.”
“I’m sure he’d like that.”
“Well, I wish I could stay and chat but I have to go.”
“That’s too bad. I was hoping that I could persuade you to stay for lunch.”
“I wish I could but I really can’t.”
“Very well, I’ll walk you to your car.”
She patted Dexter on the nose before she walked away, leaving him gazing after her forlornly. I know how you feel, Buddy. When we got to her Porshe, I opened the door for her and my eyes dropped to her shapely legs. She was smiling when my eyes returned to her face. “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow evening,” she said as I closed the door.
“So am I,” I replied.
She gunned the engine and sped off, waving.
I stood there watching the car until it disappeared from view. Yes, tomorrow evening was going to be very interesting, to say the least.