This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.

Dreams Don't Grow on Trees

© 2011 - 2017 Owen Hudson

Chapter Forty-three

It was the first frost of the fall season and Adam, Brody and friends had planned a horseback ride to the campgrounds. Adam wanted Brody to see where they often camped out. He wanted to actually camp out, but there were no adults available to supervise and they also thought it too chilly. He also wanted to ride to let George meet Brody.

"It's beautiful here," Brody remarked when he saw the camp area.

"We have a lot of fun camping here," Jon said.

After being apprehensive, Brody soon enjoyed riding. "You can ride Apache, Mom's horse," Adam had said after convincing Brody it was safe to ride. "He's really gentle."

"Well, if Mom can ride him I guess I can too," Brody reluctantly agreed.

In a short time Brody was an accomplished rider and fell in love with Apache.

"Did you finish your homework?" Rita asked Adam when he came down from his room and offered to help with dinner one evening.

"I did," Adam answered.

"And what about Brody?" Darrell asked.

"He said he's almost finished," Adam said. "Mom, Dad, could we get Brody a horse? He really likes riding now."

"We already have plenty of horses for him to ride," Darrell said. "We'll run out of pasture if we get more."

"Haden and Kyle will have five acres for theirs," Adam countered.

"He can ride Apache anytime he likes," Rita said. "I don't ride that often."

"But that's not the same as having his own horse," Adam argued. "I'll even help pay for one. He said he wished he had one like Apache."

"I'll just give him Apache," Rita offered.

"He loves Apache, but what if you want to ride?" Adam asked.

"I'll talk to Jeff about getting another one," Rita offered.

"Honey, are you sure?" Darrell asked.

"I'm sure," Rita said as Brody came down to join them. "Brody, we were just having a conversation about you."

"Really?" Brody asked with concern.

"Yeah, Brody, and it's good," Adam said.

"Yes, Adam mentioned that you like Apache," Rita said. "I want you to have him as your own."

"Oh, wow! For real?" Brody exclaimed. "I do like him, but what would you ride?"

"I don't often ride, and when I do I can get another horse from Jeff," Rita said.

"Thank you," Brody said as he gave Rita a hug.

"We'll go tomorrow and get your own saddle," Darrell said.

"I haven't been this happy since before my family died," Brody said with tears in his eyes. "I love my new family."

"Why don't we invite the entire family to meet Brody?" Haden suggested.

"Yeah, why don't we?" Adam chimed in.

"We'll be having our Thanksgiving gathering soon, we could do it then," Rita suggested.

"But Mom, then we can be thankful that Brody is now a member of our family, but he should have his special day," Adam said.

"Adam, I'll have to admit that you have a good point," Rita acknowledged. "I'll call Grace and get things started."

"Who's Grace?" Brody asked.

"You've met Grandma," Adam said.

"Oh, I didn't know her name is Grace," Brody said.

"Honey, as soon as you and Grace decide on a date I'll call my brothers," Darrell said.

"We haven't seen Uncle Richard in a while, and I don't see Uncle Dale that often since my only class is an evening class," Haden said. "I'm sure they'll be happy to meet their new nephew."

"I'd really rather wait until Thanksgiving," Brody said. "I want it to be about friends, family and me."

"Are you sure, Son?" Darrell asked.

"Yes Dad, I'm positive," Brody replied.

"Well, I guess that's settled," Rita said.

"Changing the subject, but how are you boys doing in school?" Darrell asked. "Remember, if you don't keep your grades up there'll be no extracurricular activities."

"I'm good," Adam said. "I think I have all As."

"I'm good except for one class," Brody said.

"I thought you were doing well in all of your classes," Rita said with concern.

"Well, I have this awful teacher in my science class," Brody said with a giggle.

"Now your grade just dropped from an A to an F," Haden said with a smile.

"Adam, would you get the door, it's probably your Uncle George and Mary," Rita said when the doorbell rang.

"Rita, you're spoiling us," Mary said. "However we do enjoy your wonderful meals and company. Brody, your Uncle George has something for you."

"Oops, I left it in the car," George said.

"I'll go get it," Adam quickly offered.

"Here's the key," George said.

"Brody, you're going to love this," Adam said as he handed the bag to Brody.

"Wow! Saddle bags," Brody said when he looked inside the bag. "Thank you, Uncle George and Aunt Mary."

"Aunt Mary?" Rita questioned.

"We asked him and Adam to call her Aunt Mary since we'll be getting married soon," George explained.

"Goodness, congratulations," Rita said. "I'm so happy for you. When's the wedding?"

"We're planning on the twenty-first of December," George said. "There're two reasons, Adam's on Christmas break and I want him to be my best man. Also, I need to ask Adam and Brody to take care of the animals while we're on our honeymoon. We'll only be gone about five day."

"Sure I will, but I wouldn't know what to do as best man," Adam said.

"You'll do fine," George said. "It's going to be a small wedding at St. John's. Haden and Brody, I'd like for you to be ushers."

"I will," Haden said.

"So will I," Brody agreed.

"I've asked my daughter to be my maid of honor," Mary said. "At first she and my son were shocked and cool to the fact that I'm getting married. They're now happy with it. George won them over."

"Adam, after thinking about it maybe I should make other arrangements with the animals," George said. "It could be too rainy or cold for you to ride over to feed them."

"I don't mind," Adam said.

"I can always drive him over there," Haden offered.

"What a great family this is," George said.

"Yes we are," Brody agreed with a smile.

"You know what Dad, if Brody and I had four-wheelers we could easily ride over to Uncle George's to feed for him," Adam proposed.

"You already have four-wheelers," Darrell said with a smile. "They're called horses."

"Oh well, it was worth a try," Adam said without much disappointment.

"You boys need to change into your nice slack and wear a dress shirt and tie," Rita said after breakfast.

"Mom, we were going riding," Brody said. It was a break from school since school was dismissed for a teachers' development training.

"We have something else planned for the day," Rita said while suppressing a smile.

"No need to argue," Adam said as he realized the satiation from his own adoption day.

"Why are we stopping here?" Brody asked when Darrell parked at the county court house.

"We have some quick business here then we'll go," Darrell said.

"What's going on?" Brody asked as Steve met the family.

Rita gave Adam a nod, giving him permission to say, "You're being adopted today."

"Really?" Brody questioned.

"Yes Son, Really," Darrell assured him.

"Well, it certainly appears the Harrington family is growing," Judge Rose Spencer said as she began the adoption proceedings. After a few questions Judge Spencer approved the adoption and Brody was legally a Harrington.

"You guys really tricked me," Brody said as they left the court house.

"They did the same to me the first time," Adam said.

"What do you mean, the first time?" A confused Brody asked.

"Well, Dad was single when he adopted me," Adam explained. "After he and Mom got married she too adopted me. I wasn't tricked that time."

"Brody, we're having a little family party for you this evening at the Reed Center," Rita said on the drive home. "Many of our family and friends were working today so we decided to do it this evening."

"This isn't as big as the Thanksgiving gathering when you'll meet everyone," Darrell explained. "This is just people you already know."

The small gathering was still big in Brody's eyes. Walter surprised Brody by embossing "Brody Harrington" on his new saddle bags.

"No wonder I couldn't find my saddle bags," Brody said. "Thank you Grandpa.

There were other gifts, but his favorite may have been the gift from Grandpa Walter. Grace also baked a cake that read, "Welcome to the Family, Brody Harrington. Amy and Tony gave him a saddle pad with his name embroidered on it. Perry and Lacey gave him a sleeping bag, Adam gave a canteen kit, and Haden gave a compass watch. Darrell and Rita gave him a $100 Dick's Sporting Goods gift certificate.

The first day of the Thanksgiving break was pleasantly warm. Adam and Brody decide it was a perfect day for a horseback ride. As plans were made, the group of riders grew when the word got around. Kyle and Haden agreed to go since Jarred and Alan were also going. George also wanted to join the group so it was agreed that the riders would ride to his place and ride down the county roads and end up at Ray's farm.

"Dad said we could ride this way since there wasn't much traffic and there was plenty of room between the road and the fences," Jon said. "Mom said she would have lunch ready for us when we got there."

"Hey, there's an old cemetery over there," Adam said as the group rode up to the neglected cemetery. "Can we stop and look around?"

"I suppose so," Haden agreed.

"Some of these graves are from way before the Civil War era," Kyle said. "It looks like this cemetery has been neglected for years."

"It needs a lot of work," George agreed.

"Let's come back and clean it up," Brody suggested.

"We could bring Dad's chainsaw," Jon said.

"Kyle and I would have to come too if there's a chainsaw involved," Haden said.

"I'll help too," George said. "I've had experience with a chainsaw in my younger days."

"I'll get one from Dad's tool rental department," Haden said.

Lois had a large platter of sandwiches, fruit salad, and drinks ready for the riders when they arrived. Ray joined the group as they enjoyed the variety of sandwiches.

"Hey Dad, could we use your chainsaw tomorrow?" Jon asked without explaining.

"Now why do you need a chainsaw?" Ray asked.

"We saw this really old cemetery and we want to go clean it up," Jon explained.

"That must be the old Miller Cemetery," Ray said. "I just about forgot it was there. If there's a chainsaw involved I'd better go along. You might cut your leg off."

"I'm getting a chainsaw from Dad's tool rental," Haden said. "We're all going to work on it tomorrow."

"I'll bring sandwiches out tomorrow for your lunch," Lois offered.

"Cody, will you and Mark need a ride?" Kyle asked.

"Thanks, but I can drive there," Cody said.

"I keep forgetting that you're driving now," Kyle said.

"Haden, you'd better call Dad about the chainsaw for tomorrow," Adam said on the ride home. "They might rent it out."

"You're right," Haden said as he retrieved his phone from his pocket. "Okay, Dad said he'd bring one home."

"I have comp time, so I'll take the day off and help Lois with the food tomorrow," Rita said after learning about the cleanup.

"I'm also taking the day off to help," Darrell said. "None of you boys have ever used a chainsaw and you might cut your leg off."

"That's exactly what Uncle Ray said," Brody stated.

"Perry's coming to help," Adam said.

"How'd he know?" Haden asked.

"I called him and told him to bring his butt over tomorrow," Adam said.

"I just called Lois and offered to help with lunch," Rita said. "She suggested we serve breakfast at the Reed Center. Haden, do you have your grandma's breakfast casserole recipe?"

"I don't, but I could call her and get it," Haden offered.

"Would you, please," Rita said. "I need to finish dinner."

"Grandma said she would make the breakfast casserole and bring it tomorrow," Haden said. "She said Grandpa wants to help."

"I wonder if Walter wants to help or Grace told him he'd help," Darrell said with a laugh.

"We came to help," Dustin said when he arrived with Perry the next morning.

"If he gets tired call me and I'll come and get him," Rita said.

"Grandma, I'm not a baby," Dustin insisted.

"I know you're no longer a baby," Rita said while giving him a hug. "I keep forgetting."

"Come back here to the center around noon for lunch," Lois said as the group departed.

"This is a mess," Walter said when he saw the cemetery.

With number of workers the cemetery cleanup was progressing quickly. Even Dustin helped in a small way by carrying the small branches to the pile. There was even a good size pile of wood as the overgrown trees were removed.

"What are we going to do with the firewood?" Cody asked as the pile grew.

"I know a disabled man who burns wood," Ray said. "I often take him wood when I cut a dead tree. I can take it to him."

"Are we going to burn this brush?" George asked.

"I'll call the fire department and have them standby when we burn it," Ray said.

"Dad, it's 12:20 and Mom said to come back to the center for lunch at noon," Jon said.

Lunch was not sandwiches as most expected. It was salad, roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, mixed vegetables, and hot rolls. There was also a selection of desserts.

"Dustin, do you want to stay here with your grandma or do you want to go back with me?" Perry asked after lunch.

"I'm going back to work," Dustin insisted.

"Alright, if you get tired you can take a nap in the truck," Perry said.

"You can call me and I'll go get him," Rita offered.

"No, Grandma, I'm working," Dustin said.

As the group worked their way toward the back of the cemetery Walter stood silently in front of graves with a double marker. "What is it Grandpa?" Haden asked when he saw his grandpa.

"This is my grandparents' grave," Walter said. "I hardly remember them or where they were buried. You probably didn't know my mother was a Miller."

"Then they would be our great-great-grandparents," Perry said as he joined them.

"We'll have to see that this cemetery isn't neglected," Haden said. "Grandpa, we'll keep it mowed."

"Thank you and I'll help as long as I'm able," Walter said.

"Grandpa, how is it that you didn't know where your grandparents are buried?" Perry asked.

"They were in their seventies when I was born and were both dead before I was ten," Walter said. "I remember their funerals, but that's about it."

Brody had no idea what to expect for the Thanksgiving family gathering. He was surprised at the amount of food and number of people. Grace treated him the same as the other grandchildren and put them all to work. The youngsters made short work of preparing the tables. Dustin had taken a liking of his new uncle and insisted he sit beside him during the meal. Of course Brody was pleased that he was an uncle. Brody was also welcomed to the family by his uncles, aunts, and cousins.

"Do we do this again at Christmas?" Brody asked.

"No, we cook and serve Christmas Dinner for those less fortunate than us," Adam said. "I guess we're doing that again this year, aren't we Mom?"

"I don't know why not," Rita said. "We'd better start planning.

"Oh, I've been thinking about that," Grace said. "Hanna, would you hand me my purse? It's on that table by the ice maker."

"Alright, Grandma," Hanna agreed.

"Thank you, Honey," Grace said as she removed and unfolded a list from her purse. "I've made a list of things we need for the Christmas meal."

"I'm buying the turkeys again," Paul said.

"That takes care of that," Grace said as she put a check mark for turkeys on the list. "Thank you, Paul. This year the school purchased pre-cooked turkeys. I was skeptical about them, but they were quite good, and all we have to do is warm them in the oven before serving. Our supplier offered them to us at their cost since it's for a good cause. Of course I'll still make the dressing."

"Mary and I won't be attending this year, we'll still be on our honeymoon," George said.

"Honey, why don't we cut our honeymoon a day short and come back for this," Mary suggested. "After all, we're already living in sin."

"Now, Mary, what's sinful about loving someone?" Grace asked.

"You're both right," George said with a slight red face. "Will we have time to prepare food to bring?"

"Oh, don't worry about food," Grace insisted. "You know there'll be plenty."

"What if we donated extra money for toys?" George asked.

"We can always use money for toys," Grace said. "We can also use your help in serving the food."

"I think we should handle the gifts the same as last year," Betty suggested.

"I agree with that," Rita said.

"I made pretty much the same assignments as last year; if anyone has a problem with that, tough," Grace said with a laugh.

"Is the oven large enough to warm all of those turkeys?" Paul asked.

"The center now has a new large oven," Grace said. "Ray, how did you manage that?"

"We bought it with grant money," Ray explained. "Martin Guinn wrote a grant proposal for it. Remember, Martin is the one who wrote the original grants for us."

After helping clear the tables the younger generations went outside to enjoy the warm weather. The young adults and teens divided up for a game of basketball while the younger kids played tag. Dustin didn't understand the game of tag but joined in anyway.

"Hey, Uncle George, take my place while I go inside to pee," Brody said when George came out to watch the game.

"Oh I'm too old and slow," George protested.

"You're against Adam and even Dustin could beat him," Brody joked.

"Well I beat your ass all the time," Adam kidded his brother.

"That's because you cheat," Brody laughed.

"Go on and pee before you wet your pants," Adam said.

"You guys go easy on George since he's almost as old as I am," Walter, who served as referee, said as he tossed the ball to George to inbound.

"Okay, I'm young enough to play," George countered. "I'm not sure you should be the referee. You'll throw the game for your grandsons."

"Hey, I have grandsons on both sides," Walter laughed. "Are you going to pay or delay until Brody gets back from the toilet?"

Although George was a little slow, he was a good shooter and actually scored a couple of baskets before Brody returned.

When Brody returned there was a lot of teasing as George immediately sat down. Brody was nearly as good as Adam and Jon and at about the same level as Justin.

"Joe and Lisa are here," Justin said as he left the game to greet his brother and sister-in-law.

"There's still plenty of food inside," Grant said after greeting them.

"Thanks Dad, but we had a big meal at Lisa's parents," Joe said. "We plan to be here for Christmas and help with the meal."

"You haven't met my new little brother Brody," Perry said introducing Brody to Joe and Lisa.

"Well, Brody, Adam's going to have some competition with the ladies," Lisa said.

"I think there's plenty to go around," Brody said. "Besides, he already has Tiffney."

"Grandma said for you all to come in and get washed up for leftovers before we have to clean up." Hanna came out with Lana to interrupt the game.

"Brody, I'm going to sit with my other uncle this time," Dustin said as he sat beside Joe and everyone took a seat to eat.

"Alright, Dustin, you sat with me earlier," Brody said.

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