Summary: As his youngest turns 20, Ben reflects on the past.
Word Count: 800
On the occasion of Joseph’s 20th birthday, as the boys are getting ready to head into town for the party, Ben begins to reflect on the time that has passed since the death of his beloved Marie. As he waits, he sits down at his desk and begins to write a letter:
October 31, 1862
My Dearest Marie –
How I miss you, my love. My heart aches to hold you in my arms, feel your touch, hear your sweet voice, see your eyes dance and sparkle in the moonlight; these privileges stolen so long ago by a cruel twist of fate.
Although it was difficult at first, you became more than a mother to both of my sons, loving them as fiercely as if you’d born them yourself. Then, as God smiled upon me, you gave me another precious blessing.
You would be so very proud of all three of our boys.
Our Joseph has had one thing that Adam never really had: the chance to be a child. I sometimes wonder if Adam envied that chance, having been forced to grow up so quickly. But something sparked in him when you came to us. Oh, not at first, but he eventually grew to see you as a mother, and when that happened, a little boy emerged, at least for a time.
Adam went to school in Boston as we had discussed, though it was rather touch and go when you first left us. Adam took over almost every aspect of the operations of the Ponderosa for several weeks and acted as a second father to our boy. He was instrumental in my coming to terms with your death.
Although Adam left the confines of the Ponderosa a boy mature beyond his years, he returned a very wise man with an amazing insight. Since his return home, he has been my partner both in business and raising our youngest cub.
Eric has never strayed far from this land that he loves so dearly. His heart is as full of compassion as it was when he was a child. Our gentle giant has, on more than one occasion served as mediator and peacekeeper between brothers or father and son.
As much as Hoss loves this land, his love for his family is deeper still. He shares an amazing bond with his baby brother, a fierce friendship.
And then, there is my precious Joseph; our boy. Oh, Marie, he is so like you in so many ways, physical attributes aside; his passion, his zest for life.
Our Joseph’s sense of justice knows no bounds. Although slight of build, he would in a moment jump in to defend someone if he felt an injustice had been done. His pride has gotten him into trouble numerous times; that, I’m afraid is a trait of mine, but you knew that. He is also as hot-headed as he was as a boy. I think he can thank both of us for that temper of his.
We have kept Paul very busy over the last several years. The good doctor has often joked, ‘If not for Joseph, I wouldn’t have a practice.’
You’ve missed so much, my sweet Marie; the joy and sorrow, good times and bad. Our little one has at times been quite the handful, as I recall you told me he would be. But he has also been my joy, my reason. He has become the very heart of our Ponderosa, the very heart of the Cartwright’s, the very heart of me.
Today marks our Joseph’s 20th birthday. We are having a party for him in Virginia City; our boy is quite popular, possessing of your charm, he is. His popularity with the young ladies of Virginia City has caused many a silver hair to take residence upon my head. Although I know the lessons I have taught have long taken root and that our Joseph is an honorable man, sometimes the fathers of the young ladies cause me concern.
Every time I see our son, my love, I know that you are with us, for it is the reflection of you that gazes back at me. I see your smile when he smiles, your eyes dancing and sparkling in his. Your spirit and passion lived out through him. Thank you for this precious gift that you gave to me so long ago.
Adam is calling me; it’s time to head to town. I will write again soon. All my love is yours until eternity reunites us and beyond.
Your loving husband,