Cash Fielding stood between his mother and sixteen-year-old sister at the cemetery as the priest spoke words about his father he didn’t hear.
There were sounds all around him, people too, but his eyes were glued to the casket of the man he’d idolized his entire nineteen years.
Roc Fielding was too young to have a heart attack. The big man worked his ass off doing hard labor running the family landscaping business.
The one Cash was now going to have to manage in his father’s place.
He’d always known he’d work alongside his father. It’d been his plan most of his life. He just didn’t think he’d be running the show so young.
Addison was sniffling next to him. He moved his hand to the side to touch hers and she grabbed it and held on. His mother was holding it together just like he was. They’d grieve in private. He was a private person and always had been.
“Would the family like to come up and say a few words?” the priest asked.
Cash looked at his mother. She’d had a few things prepared but was going to keep it short and sweet.
Madeline Fielding moved to where the priest was and said, “Listen. We all know Roc. We know what he’d want us to do and it’s not to stand here gabbing about him. If I talk too long he’d make some crack about needing a few more holes dug for people standing in this heat.” There were some chuckles around over that and he felt his lips curve slightly. His father was one for bold statements. “Roc was a good man. A great husband and a wonderful father. He’s going to be missed, but he wouldn’t want us to mourn too long so I’m telling you all you better not.”
He lifted his eyes and met his mother’s. She was saying it to him. He knew it.
His mother said a few more words, then asked if he wanted to talk. He’d been on the fence about it but decided to end the way his father had joked about for years.
“Like my mother I’ll keep this short. Dad told me once when we were at one of these…he said, ‘Don’t give me a long speech or anything. Just throw the dirt on me and get a beer in my honor.’”
There were a lot of grins after that letting him know he’d said the right thing. Many heads nodded too, telling him his father must have made that comment to several before.
“We’ll be having a gathering at the house if you’d all like to attend,” his mother said.
There were probably close to a hundred people here today. Their house wouldn’t fit them all, but they had a massive barn in the back and his mother paid to have it catered. His father would want that too. A big old party in his honor on the property he’d beautified over the years.
An hour later, he was getting a soda when Ryan Butler came up to him. They’d been friends all through school. They had similar personalities too. Both of them not giving a shit about material things and parties but rather being more basic.
“Sorry about your dad,” Ryan said.
Ryan was in college but home for the summer working for Butler Construction. Since Fielding Landscaping’s biggest contract was with Butler Construction, he’d known and been around Ryan and his cousins for years while they all worked summers. But for Cash, he wasn’t going to college. No reason to. He just went right to work.
“If you need to just hang out or something, you know where to find me.”
“I do. I’ll let you know,” he said.
Ryan was good that way. They’d spent a lot of Friday or Saturday nights chilling at one of their homes in the basement just watching TV or playing video games. Neither talked much and didn’t need to. There had always been a silent understanding.
Throughout the day Michael and Matthew Butler came up to him with condolences but he’d seen them talking to his mother. He wanted to know what was going on but decided to wait until later.
Later came after seven when his mother was cleaning up in the garage. He and Addison were helping. His sister was holding it together as best as she could. His sister and he were like night and day. Her friends were there all hugging her and almost babying her. She needed it and he wasn’t equipped to give it to her.
“Come here, you two,” his mother said. “Have a seat.”
“Are we going to lose the house?” Addison asked, crying.
He felt his heart thump in his chest. He wouldn’t let that happen. He’d find a way to make it all work.
“No,” his mother said. “I wanted to tell you that I’m still running the business from the office like I always did. Matthew and Michael both assured me the contracts were still in place. They’d help me find some men to help with the work if I needed it. Your father did the work of more than one man.”
“I’ll get it covered,” Cash said.
“Cash, you’re nineteen.”
“Dad would want me to step up. I can do it.”
His mother sighed. “He would and he’d be proud of you, but you’re still learning. Other men have been here longer and you can learn from them.”
He didn’t want to hear that but knew he didn’t have much of a choice either.
“We aren’t losing anything,” he said firmly. “I won’t let it happen.”
His mother walked over and put her hand on his shoulder. “Neither will I. Your father is going to continue to watch over us. We are going to be just fine and you know it.”
He wasn’t so sure of that deep down, but he’d never let his mother know he felt that way. He was the man of the house now and he’d do anything it took to keep them together.