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Text:Tom Hathaway - Memoirs of Forbidden Love/Country Life by J.T.

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My dad was a great guy. Ever since I was little, all I wanted was to be like him. He taught me everything about running the farm. But he got killed last year when the tractor rolled on him.

My brother and I dug the grave out back next to his parents in a cottonwood grove. The family plot. Mom and Iʼll probably be buried there ourselves. My brother wonʼt though.

We all took dadʼs death hard, not at all ready for it. Suddenly he was just gone. I was finishing high school and had to take over most of the work. My brother, Wes, was going to college and didnʼt want to quit just to plant corn and soybeans and raise a few sheep. Mom was the worst off. The sadness just seemed to settle on her and not go away.

The work was hard but I liked it, needed it to keep my mind from missing him too much. I always knew Iʼd be taking over from him someday, but didnʼt know it would be so soon.

Mom and I pulled together to keep the place going. Being just the two of us drew us close. We both tried to cheer each other up through this hard time. Old problems between us just got forgotten — too many important things to do right now.

We couldnʼt afford to hire help, and at the end of each day we were totally done in. Mom had plenty to do around the house and barn, and sometimes she had to help me in the fields too. Like repairing fences. Itʼs damned hard work — resetting the posts, stretching the wire, keeping it taut while youʼre hammering — and needs two people. Three is better, but mom and I got along with it.

We usually worked late and were too hungry afterwards to do anything but eat. But right after supper weʼd take hot baths, mom first then me, same big tub, same water. Then weʼd rub our sore muscles with liniment. Boy, did that feel good, deep into the ache. Weʼd do each otherʼs backs, sitting on the stool in the steamy warm bathroom, bathrobe down to the waist. Mom held a towel to her to cover her front, but I got to see a lot. I guess she did too. We were both too tired to be super modest. Sometimes both of us would be breathing hard, not just the one doing the rubbing. It was the best part of the day, a well‐earned relaxation, and we both looked forward to it.

After that maybe a little TV sitting together on the couch in our robes, then sleep. We were bushed!

This went on for months. We didnʼt let ourselves think that we were turning each other on. It was all the comfort we were getting and we didnʼt want to lose it.

One day mom had a bruise on her side. I rubbed it extra gentle while she raised the towel up. This time I really got a good look. They were big. They hung down all full. They looked like they needed attention. They were the best looking things Iʼd ever seen. Iʼd seen a couple of girls, but mom had them beat. I got big too, but it was inside the robe.

Mom pulled her robe up over them, and we traded places on the stool. When I sat down though, what I had poked right out of my robe, straight up. I covered it, but I could hear mom gulping. As she massaged me, we both got more tense. I didnʼt know what to do … but I knew what I wanted. Finally mom gave a little gasp and pressed her chest into my back. Her robe was loose, I could feel them against me, large, soft, warm. Her arms circled me and she started to cry. “Weʼve got to do something about this,” she said with a sob. “Weʼve got to do something.”

I knew she meant now I had to do something. I was the man.

I stood up and raised her up and we kissed full on, our robes coming open, our bodies touching all along their sore tired lengths. Our thoughts were going bonkers, but we escaped from them in a swirl of feelings. I took her hand and walked her into her bedroom.

I havenʼt slept in my own bed since. Itʼs wonderful what we do to each other. Itʼs the best thing thatʼs happened. Anyone who would say itʼs wrong hasnʼt ever done it. And anyone who would say itʼs unnatural has never seen farm animals. They do it that way just fine. Our ramʼs favorite ewe is his mom.

Wes came home unannounced one night, driving in late from Mankato. Mom and I were deep asleep and didnʼt hear him come in.

He mustʼve gotten suspicious when he saw I wasnʼt in the bedroom we shared. Next morning he was up by the time mom and I came out of her bedroom — me naked and her in a nightgown, not expecting him. He just stared at us and we just stared at him. Nothing to be said.

He did say things, though, mean things, calling us sick perverts. Mom started crying with her face in her hands, shaking with sobs. I put my arm around her to comfort her, and Wes sneered at us. “What would dad think of what youʼre doing? Huh?” he demanded.

“Dadʼs not thinking anything,” I said, getting mad. “Dadʼs dead. Dead men donʼt think.”

I thought my brother was going to hit me, but he just stormed out and drove away.

We got a letter from him calling us more names and saying he never wanted to be around us again but if we kept paying for his college — heʼs going for a B.A. in Business — he wouldnʼt tell anybody.

I think it was pretty rotten of him to dump on us like that. He didnʼt know what we were going through. His education didnʼt seem to make him any more tolerant or understanding of people.

Mom took it real hard. It was her second big loss. It made her and me all the more close together though. Now we were really all we had. We had to stick together.

Weʼre doing pretty well now. We work the land together and weʼve made a go of it, money‐wise and the two of us. Weʼre not your typical Prairie Home Companion farm family, but there may be more people like us than youʼd think. Weʼre doing the best we can in this life.

Iʼm not the greatest looking guy in the world and wasnʼt a big hit with the girls. I love mom and feel damn lucky to have her the way I do.


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