Summary: It’s the end. The end of everything–or is it? No KAOS in this story. Honestly!
Word Count: 700
“It’s the end of the family,” Joe cries, and you cringe.
Of course, for Joe it must feel like that. For Joe, this family has always consisted of Pa, and Hoss, and Joe—and you, Adam, for as long as he can remember. He doesn’t know a family can be a father and two sons, or even a father and only one son. He will learn that in time, you’re sure.
But anyway, you’re leaving the Ponderosa, not the family; and you hope that one day Joe will understand that you‘re taking the family with you, in your heart, wherever you go. They’re all there, Pa, Hoss, and Joe, too, whether you’re on the Peloponnese or in Trafalgar Square.
Joe might think you’re abandoning the family, but you’re only abandoning the Ponderosa—and the Ponderosa isn’t a part of the family, nor is the family a part of the Ponderosa.
Maybe Joe will realise that some time, too.
“It’s the end of an era,” Pa proclaims, and you barely resist the urge to guffaw.
How very Ben Cartwright to put it like that. An era, no less. Nothing is ever smaller than gargantuan, nothing ever less than Very Important. Significant. Greater than life. Like Ben Cartwright Himself.
If he’d give his sons a bit more importance, a bit more responsibility for the significant…. If he’d give a damn for the ideas the college educated brains of his firstborn produced….
No, it wouldn’t change anything. The Ponderosa still wouldn’t satisfy the needs of someone with an ever-inquiring, ever-learning mind, for someone who is yearning for stimulation.
In time, perhaps, Pa will realise that you can bequeath land, cattle, money, barrel chests and dark booming voices—but not dreams. Dreams are individual, and everyone needs to follow his very own. Even though one doesn’t have to be a genius to make out this simple truth, it took you several years to understand that having a different dream from your father’s is not betrayal.
You hope that Pa will forgive you figuring it out.
“It’s the end of you hurtin’,” says Hoss, and like so many times before, you just want to embrace him for that and cry on his shoulder like a little child.
Of course, Adam Cartwright Doesn’t Do such a thing and so you limit yourself to squeezing your brother’s shoulder.
And Hoss says, “There, there, brother” and pulls you into the embrace you couldn’t initiate, presses your face into his shoulder, and gives you enough time to conjure up an embarrassed face before he sets you free.
Free. You know he wants to have you stay, but he also understands that you have to go. What he doesn’t see is that living on the Ponderosa wasn’t hurting you all the time. You’ve been happy here for a very long time, you’re still happy here every once in a while. But over the past years, boredom, tristesse and longing for more have overshadowed the width, the quiet, and the beauty of nature.
You’ve said your good-byes, you’ve taken your horse out of the old barn for one last time, you’ve turned around and waved back as you were riding away, for as long as you could see them standing there: your family before the ranch house that had been your home for so many years.
Now there’s only the road before you, your dream, your uncertain future—and it strikes you nearly violently: this isn’t the end.
This is a fresh start, the beginning of the rest of your life.
And you laugh.
In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
~ Abraham Lincoln
With many thanks to Sklamb, for her considerate beta-reading.