Daily Prompt: Something So Strong

Daily Prompt: Something So Strong

 Tell us the origin story of your best friend. How did you become friends? What is it that keeps your friendship rockin’ after all these years?

***

“Y’all want to know ’bout my friends – or my best friend?  Friends are hard to come by, and I really only got one friend, so I s’pose that qualifies him as my best friend.

I first met Darby in ’55.  I was seven years old at the time.  So was he.  My mama took me over to Darby’s place bout a month after his family took over the ol’ Holmgren farm.  We was gonna welcome them to the county.  Mama had baked a berry pie that she presented by way of introduction.

Darby’s folks was stubborn folks.  They was determined to make a go o’ farmin’ despite his pa havin’ no experience in agriculture or animal husbandry.  I learned later, that up till the time he bought the ol’ Holmgren place, Darby’s pa had earned his way by addin’ up columns of numbers for some merchant up north a’piece.  I honestly have no idea what possessed the man to try his hand at farmin’.  Lucky for them they settled here: and got good neighbors.  Us and the Ripleys and most a y’all all pitched in and helped them make it through the first few years.  Then Darby’s pa began to get the hang of it.  Eventually he got to be a passable farmer, but those first few years he’d a died o’ starvation if left to his own devices.

That first day Darby took me out and gave me a tour of the farm.  He showed me the barn and the patch where his mama was plantin’.  She had corn, tomatoes, greens, and peas startin’ to grow.  Darby pointed out each row.  He told me what was growin’ in each one and even drew my attention to some of the plants that he had concerns about. We discussed those concerns and I gave him my best seven year old advice.  He listened, nodded his head and studied the plants under discussion in great detail.

It wasn’t till he showed up at the school house the next week that I found out he was blind.

Blind, to Darby, weren’t no handicap, if anything it were an advantage.  His other senses was sharp.  For example, I learnt that Darby was the perfect huntin’ partn’r. He could smell a squirrel or a rabbit from a great distance.  He could also hear the train comin’ a full three minutes ‘fore anyone else had a inklin’.

When the war come in ‘64, Darby an me both went down to join up.  He kicked up quite a fuss when they told him he couldn’t enlist, that there was no place for a blind man in the army.  Eventually I got him calmed down by givin’ him a job.  My pa had passed a year or so back and Mama was doin’ poorly.  I explained to Darby that it would ease my mind a sight if he would look after Mama whilst I was fightin’ the war.  He agreed to my proposal and he done a fine job too.  I come home that first spring to plow, and Darby had it already done.  When I come up the road I found him plantin’ already.  He told me to fight, told me that that was my job.  His job, he explained, was to take care of Mama and the farm.

When I come back after the war Darby was runnin’ Mama’s farm and the ol’ Holmgren place.  He explained to me all about irrigation and the like.  Things I had never dreamt of and that he had built.  We teamed up, bought the Ripley spread that sat between our farms and merged em all.

Me an Darby, we were like brothers – only closer.  I stood up for him when he and Carrie got hitched and he done the same fer me when I wed Sarah.

Time passed.  Children grew up. Carrie caught the consumption and went to her reward.  Darby never remarried despite Sarah’s best efforts, and introductions to every unmarried woman within a day’s ride or so. We all grew old.  And, it’s been a good life…  It’s been a good life thanks to Old Darby.  He brought peace and prosperity to his family, and mine.  He enriched this entire county with his selfless ways.

As we lay him to rest, this fine summer day, I can see him smilin’, grabbin’ a pole and headin’ down to his favorite fishin’ hole, cause that’s exactly what he woulda done on a day like this.

Y’all light a candle today for Blind Darby and think about how things are gonna be different now that he’s gone. But most importantly, tell stories bout him.  Spread the word bout the good things he done.  That way he will live forever.  He will never die if we keep him alive.”

***

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