Synopsis: Exploring — what makes you who you are?
Word Count: 650
“I always believed it was the things you don’t choose that makes you who you are.”
Years ago I lost the loves of my life. How different would life be, had Marie lived? Had Inger? Had Elizabeth?
Maybe I wouldn’t be as successful as I am. Yes, we’re prosperous in our holdings, but more importantly, my legacy is in my sons. If it could have been different and Elizabeth was still here. . . there wouldn’t be a Hoss or even a Little Joe, but Adam would hopefully have had other siblings.
Is it even worth thinking about what could have been? No, but I can’t help myself.
Would Elizabeth’s survival have been what it took for Adam to be more settled and content to remain on The Ponderosa? It was our dream, Elizabeth’s and mine, to head west. I know Adam would have still spent the formative years of his life traveling in a wagon to find our piece of heaven. And with him being such an inquisitive child, I’m sure he would have gone to college.
Was our choosing to make our dream a reality what made Adam eventually choose to leave the ranch to travel and explore the world, to seek out new frontiers and people? I knew the Ponderosa couldn’t satisfy him and he’d been unhappy for the longest time. We wished him well, but always kept a light lit for his return. In all his journeys I’m sure he holds his family deep in his heart.
Inger was a breath of fresh air and her gentle ways gave me hope to love again. She’d been settled in Illinois, but with our marriage, she shared and joined in our dream. And she lovingly took on the role of mother to Adam, a feeling the was mutually reciprocated.
So, what of Hoss? Even though he never really knew his mother, I don’t think he’d be any different. He’d still be the gentle, loving, compassionate, big man with a knack for helping those who needed it the most. And always the buffer between his two brothers when they’d butt heads, and tempers.
His life was family and the land. And all the critters that called the Ponderosa home. He’d fight for what he believed in. Would anger against an injustice. And just as swiftly smile that gap-toothed smile and we’d know everything was alright once again.
And then there’s Little Joe. Marie was with us the longest, but still taken from us in a tragic accident. My youngest son didn’t choose be raised by his brothers and me. I remember him just out of his toddler years, rebelling against the dresses his mother enjoyed sewing for him to wear. He also screamed bloody murder when I insisted on his hair being cut. That should have set the tone for his teen years and more. From such an early age he was a scrapper, wanting to be the same as his brothers, working the ranch side by side. Fighting against being the youngest in the family and feeling he was not taken seriously had some bearing on his trying to grow up before his time.
With Adam’s departure, Joe stepped up to the plate, so to speak. Most people would have expected Hoss to take the lead, but he deliberately stepped back. I sensed he knew Joe was meant for the role. Though I never expected any of my sons to be a duplicate of another, Joe filled Adam’s shoes admirably, in his own unique style. He matured, yet he was still Joe; his cackle sounding through the house and across the land. He’s not ‘Little’ Joe any more, hasn’t been for some time.
But now . . . The heartache we’re suffering is tearing us apart. We weren’t given a chance to say goodbye, not until it was too late. We didn’t choose this.
Standing at Hoss’ grave, I know who we were, but I have to wonder who will we be tomorrow?
For those who wonder about Jamie, sorry, I just couldn’t bring myself to include him in this story.
I chose not to list the series as part of the summary because I didn’t want to give away the ending of the story. I hope you’ll forgive me.
Author’s Note: And I’ve Got Mine…was the first story written, followed by Momma Liked the Roses, and What We Didn’t Choose, and lastly, Always in what has become known as my Remembering Hoss Series. The Series is listed in chronological order.
Remembering Hoss Series: