“Please pass the rolls,” Jack said. For the first time Jack noticed the dinner rolls were a pale pink and the pink was only noticeable when he tore one in half in order to butter the inside. His mother did not have the unlimited access to the red grain that Toby had and it was the day before harvest when supplies would be almost depleted. “These are great Mom,” he said while he smeared on the butter. “I’m going to help Toby with the harvest in the morning.” He just let the statement drop in the middle of the table and waited. The effect was more than he had hoped for. All chewing stopped and no one said anything for at least ten seconds.
His father broke the silence, “Less than ten years ago Toby started hiring custom harvesters but he handles everything on the ground. The operators stay in their cabs unless their machines need maintenance, no one else helps, no one ever has” it was a statement, not a question.
“Well, I’m gonna be on the ground dumping trucks, running information, getting things,” Jack couldn’t hide the pride he felt.
“Why isn’t Toby doing all that?” Jack’s mother asked continuing to ignore her food.
“I think he’s just tired,” answered Jack.
“Silly, Uncle Toby’s never tired,” Jack’s sister Sally said while she chewed her pork chop. She was quoting what she had heard adults say many times.
“He’s getting old,” Jack said taking a bite of his dinner roll – the best dinner rolls anywhere even if his mom didn’t have unlimited supplies of the red grain.
“Toby’s always been old. He was old when I was a boy. But he’s never acted old. He runs that farm, sun up to sun down nothing’s as constant as Toby,” another statement of fact from Jack’s father.
“Well, for whatever reason I’m helping him first thing in the morning.”
“You’re not going to be doing anything dangerous are you?” Jack’s mother asked, getting over her initial shock.
“Just backing trucks and running errands. I’ll be careful.”