Jason's Coming of Age Story

Chapter Four

Matt further explained that James had broken up with his lover when he found him cheating on him. His lover had been one of the pilots on the route James had flown on for the big airline he used to work for.

There was a shuttle bus that somehow Grandfather had "borrowed" from one of the big name hotels here in Key West and we all helped the ground crew stow the luggage into the back of it before we all found seats and the driver took us to Grandfather's house. Jan rushed ahead of us to unlock the house and as Grandfather was saying his goodbyes to the driver, I heard the man thank him for what I was sure was a generous tip. I heard the man say," Thanks boss, you don't have to do that but thanks for it, anyway". Matt and Jan helped get everyone settled in their rooms which Matt had told us they had freshened up before they left the other day for our graduations. Mike and I still had the separate big room at the end of the hall.

We didn't feel that we were taking anything away from any of the other couples, as we had seen when we were down here earlier in the year, all the bedrooms were generous in size and had their own bathrooms as well. The only one bedroom that was different was Grandfather's which had an enclosed porch off his, which he used as a sitting room and an office. It was a nice space that had had some work done on it, to make it usable year-round, just like a regular room in the house. After we had all settled into our rooms, we all met downstairs in the informal family room, after everyone got to see the backyard and the pool area and got a tour of the downstairs rooms.

We had reservations for dinner at Grandpa's favorite restaurant, the Mexican Cafe we had eaten at during Spring break. Everyone had a great time, and we all enjoyed our stroll back to the house after, stopping at an ice cream shop for dessert on the way. The next day, out by the pool, Grandpa began talking to Mr. and Mrs. Clarke about what he would be looking for in a property near the University that Mike, and I would be attending. He thought that it should be a big roomy place with some acreage, in order for it to bring in a good return (profit) when it was eventually sold. The Clarkes told him they had been thinking along the lines of a neighborhood house, something not too big, and Grandfather told them that there wouldn't be enough room in something like that for all of us to get together in, and besides, he already had a couple picked out to move there to take care of the boys when they finally had the right property picked out.

The Clarkes looked toward where Jan and Matt were stretched out on lounge chairs, side by side, and Grandfather chuckled and said that those two were indispensable to him. He explained that yes, Matt would be good running the house, and that Jan would be good for all the maintenance, but he really did need them here to help him run his business affairs, and his household. He then looked at both of them and said the couple he was thinking about was them. He then went on to tell them that he knew that they both had reached the point in both their jobs and that they were entitled to retirement benefits from both. He said he couldn't think of better "house parents" for Mike and Jason and they were people he himself could trust. He went on to tell them that he knew some costs would be incurred if they accepted his proposal and he was prepared to pay those to make their moving across the country easier for them.

He asked them to think about it, to talk it over between them, and if they had any questions to talk to him, or to call him if it was after their vacation and they were home in Colorado. He said he didn't anticipate that a suitable property could be found and closed on before the end of October or at the latest the end of November, but he was looking forward to spending Christmas and the New Year in New England with the whole group of us, his new family. With that, he jumped into the pool and tried to horn in on the volleyball match Mike and I were having. He told us later, just me and Mike, that he had planted the idea of his parents moving to Massachusetts once the proper house and property was found, now he needed a reason for Carole and Sam to move and we'd have most of the family in one area. I looked at Mike, who was looking so relieved because I knew he was most anxious about leaving his parents behind when we went off to school, then I looked at his parents who were holding hands as they sat at the patio table having what looked like a serious, but almost happy excited conversation, and them across the patio to Sam and Carole lying on a double chaise in the shade having a nap, their arms around each other as they lay on their sides facing each other. It thrilled me that Grandfather liked my friends, that he cared so much for Mike and me that he was willing to spend a lot of money to bring us all together once Mike and I moved across the country to go to school.

We shortly got into a somewhat routine during our stay, spending the morning hours doing something like visiting Ripley's Museum and all the oddities there, or wandering on Duval Street and all the tourist shops there. Then after lunch, we tended to lounge around near, and in, the pool. Evenings were mostly spent dining in all kinds of restaurants, including a pizza parlor that claimed to have a wood burning fire to bake their pies in. Some evenings before bed Grandfather and the Clarkes would sit and discuss what his requirements were for the property he wanted to purchase, and he finally had the Clarkes thinking along his way of thinking. They could all do their searches on the internet, for now, assisted by Matt and Jan.

The summer seemed to fly by; it seemed that the only peace and quiet Mike and I got was when we were reading some of the texts we had been able to get advance copies of through the internet, and reading some of the world's best literature from the book lists the professors had posted on the internet. It came as no huge surprise when in mid-July Carole and Sam announced they were having a baby sometime in April. We actually had been hoping they would soon have a child of their own, since they were both so good with children. With Mr. and Mrs. Clarke, and of course Mike and me, being their only living relatives, it was kind of easy for the older Clarkes to be able to convince them to pursue employment openings in their fields out in the area around Amherst we were moving to, Mike and I in mid-August and his parents before the end of the year.

The rest of our week with Grandpa was a fun and relaxing time, good food, good company, and plenty of sunshine. It was a bittersweet goodbye at the airport to Grandfather and Matt and Jan. James was our flight attendant on our return flight and he seemed much more relaxed around us and I figured that he was more comfortable with his new position now, plus Grandfather stayed at home.

For the next several weeks Mike and I continued our studies and went through the list of items the University recommended we have with us at our dorm room. I didn't have a real deep knowledge of what it meant to live within a family, but I learned from the Clarkes how to do that. In fact, if I wasn't already in love with their son, I think I would have asked them to adopt me somehow. At one point, I think it was one night in late July when we four were cleaning up after dinner, that I first called Mrs. Clarke "Mom" and it came so naturally that at first I didn't notice her tears as I asked "Dad" how his day had gone. Mike was beaming, Mr. Clarke was beaming, and Mrs. Clarke was sobbing and hanging around my neck, calling me "Son". It was a great evening. Being accepted as their second son was glorious and I had to share that with Grandpa that night on the phone. He was so happy for me.

We had bought footlockers and Mike and I had each packed one as well as a couple of boxes each and we shipped them to ourselves at the dorm we were assigned to at UMASS. We each had a large suitcase to live out of until it was time to move into the dorm. We also had backpacks that we had packed with our laptops, cell phone chargers, toiletries, and extra underwear in case something happened to our luggage. We each had iPads now, but we also packed a book in our backpacks too.

Mom and Dad drove us to the airport to catch our early morning flight on Grandpa's jet. To our surprise there was Sam and Carole to say their final goodbyes to us, we thought. It turns out they too had been invited to share our flight by Grandpa as they both had interviews in the coming week in the Amherst area. Grandfather had booked them into the same inn on campus that Mike and I would be staying in our first week up there until we could move into our dorm room. James was once again our flight steward. He must be beginning to feel like family because we all got hugs from him when he came to get our luggage out to the ground crew prior to our boarding the plane.

It was really hard to say goodbye to Mom and Dad, but they kept reminding us that we'd see them over the Columbus Day weekend (the one closest to October 12th) for Parents' Weekend on campus and it sounded like we might just see Grandfather that weekend as well. Our flight went smoothly and at the airport for small aircraft in Westfield, there was a rental car waiting for us. It was actually a small van that sat six, but there was ample room in the rear for all our luggage. Using the map included with the rental agreement we easily found Route 91 and headed north to Amherst to get settled in our rooms at the inn on campus.

The campus of the University seemed huge to us and we learned that there were other campuses a few miles away that housed the Animal Husbandry and the Agricultural Departments. We got settled into our rooms at the Inn, run by the Hotel, Restaurant and Hospitality Department of the University. By now it was well after lunch, which James had served us on board our flight, but too soon for dinner so we decided to explore a bit, snagging one of the campus maps from the front desk. Sam and Carole went with us as Carole said that being pregnant meant she should get some form of exercise after sitting in the plane for hour upon hour. We found the Registrar's office where Mike and I would have to go the next day to enroll officially and pay our fees.

We made it back to the Registrar's office in the morning and we were only the second and third in line, but others were lining up behind us as we waited for the guy in front of us to finish at the window. I heard something that caught my attention going on between the guy in front of us and the clerk trying to file his enrollment. He kept showing her the acceptance letter he had received stating he had a full scholarship, including room and board and all he was trying to do was register so he wouldn't have to do it during the peak of registration the next week. Judging by the date of his acceptance I figured that he had received either my or Mike's scholarship after we had turned down the offer for financial assistance. Somehow the computer system they used had not been updated and his information had not been entered correctly. I used my cell to call the clerk in the admissions office that both Mike and I had talked to previously.

She came out of a back office with a handful of papers and in no time had the matter corrected. Meantime the guy, Tim, had been quite upset and Mike and I had tried to calm him down enough that he could continue with his registration. The young clerk from admissions apologized profusely about the computer mix up and then told me she was pleased to get to meet Mike and me, as not many people would have turned down full-ride scholarships so others might get to use them and then accept the general acceptance and end up paying our own way. She told us it was an honor to meet us.

Tim's paperwork was filed, and he waited off to the side while Mike and I registered and got our own class assignments and schedules. We then went to where Tim was waiting with a suitcase and a duffle bag at his feet. When we got within talking range, he thanked us so much for helping him out back at the registration window. He also told us that if it wasn't for us turning down the full ride scholarships, he wouldn't be able to attend the University. He admitted, as we all had coffee at a campus cafe, that although he had worked bagging in a grocery store his junior and senior years of high school, he couldn't have afforded to go here after his parents disowned him after he came out to them a short time after Easter earlier in the year.

He had been staying on the couch at his older sister's apartment since, but she had recently started dating a real jerk and he had been hoping to be able to move into a dorm room a week earlier than scheduled, thus the suitcase and the duffle bag. Mike and I looked at each other and nodded, and we offered Tim the chance to share our room at the Inn. There were two queen-sized beds in our room, and we were only using one. He cottoned on to our situation right away and he said several times he didn't want to intrude on us like that, or as he once said, to" cramp our style", but we reassured him he could go for a walk, or hang out in the TV room in the lobby, or even hang with Sam and Carole at times, besides it would only be another five nights before the dorms would be open for occupancy.

When Mike and I explained to Sam and Carole about Tim they became like older siblings to him too. They spent time with him, getting to know him and letting him vent about his parent's treatment of him. Soon the rest of the family knew of Tim and Mom sent extras in a treat box she had said she was going to send Mike and me once a month, and she enclosed a tin full of snacks we had found out he liked. Grandpa sent a five-hundred-dollar gift card, the same kind he had given Mike and me, to use in the various eateries and shops on campus.  Tim cried as he read the notes that came with those gifts, telling us that we were so lucky to have our family's support.

Sam got good news the morning before they had to fly back to Denver, he was offered the position as one of the trainers for the swim team at the University. He accepted right away as he and Carole had decided to move out here in the Fall, anyway. Carole didn't have much time to dwell on Sam maybe having to move out here a month or two before her, she got a call that same afternoon from the district office of the DCFS, the Department of Children and Family Services in the local office as a counselor in the office working with children in foster care in the area. Working in the local office meant no traveling, at least while she was pregnant. After her maternity leave started in April, she could spend several weeks bonding with her baby (they really didn't want to know if it was a boy or girl yet) before returning to the office, or taking on a field caseworker's position that would be opening up by then.

We celebrated their good news that night at dinner and we video conferenced with Mom and Dad that evening and we then connected to Grandpa's computer and got him in on the call as well. We took the time to introduce Tim to everyone, and he was basically in tears by the end of that call. He told Mike and me that he felt like he had a family again, a more tolerant and more welcoming family. The weekend went well, even though we had to say goodbye to Sam and Carole as Grandpa was sending his plane for them so they could use the next week and a half to resign from their jobs and get their belongings packed up for the move. Grandfather sent us several listings for properties he had found on the internet and he had sent them to Mom and Dad also so we knew that there must have been others that the three of them had rejected for one reason or another.

What surprised Mike, and me was the size of the houses, but I guess it shouldn't have, after all, Grandfather had said that he wanted to have a place up here for us to live in where the whole group of us could get together often during the years we would be at the University. One of the properties was for sale for over a million dollars and that one had a lot of notes on it that looked like Grandpa had really thought that one through, but the one note on the very bottom of the page explained why he hadn't jumped right in to purchase it, the property was a forty-five minute drive from the University.

We guys took Sam and Carole to the airport in Westfield, about a forty-five minutes away, in a rental that Grandpa had arranged, but there was no information other than an emergency number to call in the glove box of the car. It was a brand-new Lincoln Navigator which with the fold up third-row seat would ride eight, but it drove like a smaller SUV that even I could handle well. We parked outside the small terminal and there to greet us were Grandpa's pilots and James and they all got introduced to Tim. James and Tim had a handshake that must have lasted for at least four minutes as they seemed to gaze at each other like forever. It was so cool to see. We said our goodbyes after Sam and Carole's luggage was stowed and Tim again shook James' hand before James was heading up the stairs to go settle his passengers in for the flight to Denver.

Mike and I both had a lot of questions from Tim to answer on the drive back to Amherst, all of them about James, and when he might get to see him again. It was so cool that Tim fell for James at their first meeting, which only lasted about a half hour at the most and that was with the rest of us all around, they never had a chance to talk to each other privately. That changed the next day.

The next day was Sunday, and it was our last relaxing day because Monday we would be moving into our dorm. About two in the afternoon, while we were in our shared room packing up our suitcases with the clean clothes we had just washed and dried at the laundromat, my cell phone rang and I saw it was Matt calling so I sat on one of the beds and answered. We exchanged greetings and then Matt asked if Tim was nearby and I told him he was in the room, packing for our move into the dorm the next morning. Matt said that he had someone with him who wanted to speak to Tim.

Tim and James talked for even longer than it took for Mike and me to finish packing and then some. Mike and I left to give them privacy after our packing was done, and we went to the TV room off the lobby for an hour. When we returned, they were just saying their goodbyes and then Tim handed me back my phone, blushing like a ripe tomato. At Mike's raised eyebrow Tim began to tell us about the call and he was prattling on about James said this and James said that and that they had decided that at the next opportunity they would talk again, as soon as Tim could replace the phone he used to have which his parents had made him leave at their home. He would use some of the money my Grandpa had sent him and buy a cell at the drugstore tomorrow.

We all ended up making it an early night, and we did so, so we might be some of the first in line to get our dorm room assignments signed off on and get the keys to our rooms. We knew that Mike, and I were scheduled to room together, but Tim didn't know anything about his proposed roommate.

It turned out he needn't have worried about that, Grandfather had struck again and had arranged, without telling us anything about it, for a two-bedroom suite in the dorm and all three of us would share it along with one other guy, who it turned out was also gay and the boyfriend of one of the librarians in the main on-campus library. Ben was an older student, having served almost his first full tour of duty in the Air Force before being injured while servicing a jet engine over in Afghanistan. Some idiot of a mechanic was fooling around in the jet's cockpit and had inadvertently started the jet engine Ben was working on. After several operations, Ben was left with only two fingers and his thumb on his left hand and several scars going up his left forearm from the operations to insert rods in his arm to help the shattered and twisted bones heal.

Once mustered out of the service he had continuing physical therapy at the VA hospital in Holyoke, not all that far by highway, and he had met his boyfriend Ken there. Ken was setting up a book exchange run by the University's library and they had hit it off right from the start.

We, four freshmen, attended orientation together, and we even went to get the rest of our needed textbooks and supplies together. We all toured the campus again using our campus maps to get familiar with where classrooms and lecture halls were and Ben was happy to show us where Ken worked in the library, just in case we needed help while researching.

We all seemed to get along well, and Ben and Ken soon became our friends and we soon learned that Ben also was going to take an education major when it came time to declare our majors. That was probably why we four all had so many of our basic courses together. Only a couple of times did we ever have separate electives. But that first semester we were just getting our feet wet as far as our studies at the University. These basics would give us a good foundation for our further classwork even in our second semester, let alone the more intense classes we'd attend in the following years. Every indication was we were all four of us doing really well and our weekend talks with Mom and Dad were shared with Tim, Ben seemed to spend a lot of his non-studying time with Ken, who had a small studio apartment in a staff housing apartment building.

Mom and Dad told us we were making them proud and Grandfather was too, but he was also excited, excited about a new property he had found on the internet and had arranged for everyone to see it when everyone got together for the Columbus Day weekend. That particular weekend was chosen because Parents Weekend was a washout. There had been a five-day period where it poured down rain every day in the afternoons and we, Mike and I, soon had the sniffles so an alternate time had been arranged for the adults to visit and maybe find a property that Grandfather liked enough to purchase. Sam and Carole would be more comfortable in their new jobs by then too and they had finally settled in a small apartment, but Grandfather convinced them to only sign a month to month rental agreement just in case the property he settled on had room for them too.Jason's House

Grandfather had sent us an email with a description of the house and property he particularly liked and included was a picture of the house. He wanted to know what we thought of this one. It was an older Colonial style, very traditional looking. It had a sense of permanency about it. It said in the written description, that as the original family that built it had grown, an addition to the right of the home had been built, a self-contained two-bedroom unit with its own kitchen and living area and two full bathrooms. The main house had six upstairs bedrooms and four full baths, a downstairs master bedroom and bath, a half bath off the family room and the kitchen and family room were open to each other. There was a four-car garage attached to the addition and a two-bedroom apartment over that. A very large deck ran across the entire back of the structures and a good sized in-ground pool was centered in a big patio at the midpoint. Also, on the property was a stable attached to a good-sized barn and a couple of fenced paddocks, the rest of the seventy-five acres were fields that were currently rented out to farmers.

Grandpa stated that he liked the property for several reasons, one was that the structures were move-in ready. Every utility had been upgraded recently and although the living spaces were not furnished, the appliances were newer and in great condition. He stated that the income from the rented fields more than paid the taxes on the place, so it was virtually self-sustaining. He said that the best thing about it was that the property was only about ten miles from the UMASS campus, in the small town of Granby, which he had learned had a great reputation as being a gay-friendly town.

When the holiday weekend neared, we were prepared for our visitors, well most of us were, Tim was on pins and needles waiting to see James again. It was so cute that they still had the hots for each other and all they had ever done was shake hands! But it really was sweet. Tim spent hours on the phone with James and he didn't let it interfere with his studies either, they were going to get to spend the weekend together in Tim and Ben's room because Ben was going to stay with Ken at the studio apartment.

Only Mom and Dad and Grandpa, Matt and Jan, were staying at the Inn so only three rooms had to be reserved for them, although I'm pretty sure we would all get together for meals and of course for the house tours if Grandfather had set up and any other showings for us all to see. Their arrival on Friday, early in the afternoon, was well received as we were all waiting at the airport for them with our assorted vehicles at their disposal. Mom and Dad had been down to visit Grandpa so they were all able to fly up together, but we found out it wasn't just a vacation trip, Grandfather had recruited them to be the property managers at whatever place he decided on and they had already filed for their retirement and given notice at their jobs. Their accrued vacation time and sick days and comp time would leave them without anything to do until the end of the month when their retirement benefits would kick in.

I wasn't surprised when Grandpa took Mike and me aside before dinner to tell us he had booked a van and driver to take us to see the property in Granby he was very interested in. When I asked who should come along, he stammered a bit and then said that he had really booked a minibus and driver for the afternoon and he had counted everyone, including Ben and Ken, Tim and James, and also Matt and Jan. He had a special reason for inviting Sam and Carole, and he hoped they would agree to his proposals, as he hoped the others would too. Mike and I thought he meant to get us all living at the new property. We couldn't think of anything that would be wrong with that, we'd have our great study group all under one roof still.

Everyone met at the Inn and we all went through the brunch buffet in their dining room. After visiting the restrooms in the lobby, we headed out to another of those big hotel shuttle buses which had just enough room for all of us. We made it to the house about five minutes before the Realtor, but that just gave us enough time to disembark from the bus and get our first close up and in-person view of the house and the surrounding grounds. Dad mentioned that it looked picture perfect from where we were standing, with the fields all fairly flat off to one side across the way and the barn and paddocks off to the other side and the mountain range we had just driven over off in the distance. It did look great, and both Mom and Grandpa said they couldn't wait to get inside. The others were starting to walk around, getting a good look at the exterior and started to go around back when we heard the Realtor's car coming up the gravel drive to the semi-circle where we were all standing.

As she was getting out of her car Grandfather approached her and introduced himself and that seemed to calm her down, she had apparently run a check on him and knew him to be a wealthy individual who had an "extended family" who were mostly in the area now. Grandpa made all the introductions, and we then followed them into the now unlocked house. The pictures online hadn't done the house any favors, all they had shown was big open rooms and very little detail, but seeing it in person, and with all of us as a group filling the rooms up to some extent, kind of made the place come alive, it made all the difference in the world. I started to get excited that this could actually be the first real home I would live in.

Once the downstairs was gone through with the Realtor leading through room by room like a guide in a museum, she took us upstairs and then stayed in the hall, letting us explore the second floor on our own.  Once that was done and we were all gathered again, she led us back downstairs and into the kitchen/great room where she unlocked another door and we were shown into the separate but attached two bedroom addition which as I said was a complete living unit with its own kitchen, living/dining area and two bedrooms upstairs, each with its own bath. Grandfather went to Sam and Carole and asked if they liked this smaller version of what was next door. He was pleased when they said that it was ideal, not too big for a working couple to take care of and not far from either of their workplaces. He seemed pleased they liked it and then offered them the use of it for as long as the property stayed in our family.

He then asked the Realtor if we could see the big garage and the apartment there. That cute space he offered to Ben and Ken, who were shocked, and they insisted on paying some sort of rent or they wouldn't agree to take it. Grandfather said he admired their integrity, and he said he was sure they could come up with a mutually agreeable amount. We then went back to the main house, and he asked Mike and me which bedroom and bath on the second floor we would like to have and he told Tim and James, and Matt and Jan to pick out two bedrooms from the remaining ones, but he told us all before we went upstairs that he wanted the bedroom at the end of the hall to the right, which was the biggest and had a small office alcove.

He then asked Mom and Dad if they liked the suite, there on the first floor and he said that as the residence chaperons and managers he felt they should have the best of the rooms in the house. Mom squealed like a schoolgirl and hugged him and Dad and he shook hands, then they went off to look through those rooms together which left the Realtor and Grandfather to talk as he and she filled out a formal offer while we guys were upstairs discussing the merits of the rooms each couple had selected. Yes, it was explained to James and Tim that they could each have their own room, especially as they had only had one day and night to really get to know each other, but we guys had all seen James carry Tim over the threshold of one of the rooms down the hall so at least for now they were planning on being together whenever James was up here with Grandfather.

Once the offer was signed, the Realtor went off after locking up the house and we all walked the property looking in the outbuildings and taking a stroll on the tamped down dirt road through the fields. We all liked what we had seen, and questions arose about whether there was the possibility of Ken moving his two horses to the barn here, after we all got settled in. He and Tim had horseback riding as one of their hobbies. Ben said that on the weekends he'd be glad to give riding lessons to anyone who wanted to take them. Grandpa stated that he was hoping someone knew how to ride and he had planned to get enough horses to fill the twenty-stall stable, and now he would only have to get eighteen. He further told everyone that he had connections at a national furniture store and he had several catalogs back at the Inn and he wanted each couple to take one and pick out furnishings for their rooms, and with Mom and Dad and Mike and me, and him, he would get the other rooms in the main house furnished. He expected Sam and Carole to do the same with their spaces and Ben and Ken to do the same, too.

It was a raucous ride back to the Inn and once there, Grandfather secured a meeting room for us and he and Jan and Matt went to get the furniture catalogs for him to distribute them and for all of us to make our lists of the furnishings we wanted in our own spaces. Once they were back and everyone had a catalog in front of them he had us turn to the outdoor furniture section where he pointed out some items we would need for the deck and the patio surrounding the swimming pool. Surprisingly we all agreed on those items and then he asked us couples to first choose our bedroom suites while he looked for some for his own room. He gave us an hour and a half to do this while a staff member wheeled in a cart full of beverages and a light lunch for all of us.

Once we had a chance to go through the bedroom suite selections and had chosen the furnishings for the bedrooms he encouraged us to look through for furnishings for the extra spaces, like the big gathering room/family room in the main house and the other furnishings Carole and Sam would need as well as Ben and Ken. These choices were rather tough, as the offerings were not like you would get to choose from in a hotel furnishings catalog, but this was a high-end residential furniture supplier and their offerings were really nice, although there were no pricing in the catalogs themselves, Grandpa kept the only price list so as to not influence our choices in any way.

Once the furnishings for our private spaces were chosen, Grandpa pulled out another sort of catalog and this one was for window coverings. There were several types and colors for louvered shutters and slatted, wooden blinds. He had some of those circled and asked if the shutters could be agreed upon for the downstairs windows, and the slatted blinds be agreed upon for the upstairs windows, with the proviso that eventually there would be curtains or drapes supplied also, but he felt that those should be chosen after bedspreads and carpets or rugs were chosen. Mom, who had obviously been in on these ideas of his, spoke up and said if we were uncertain then we should choose either a painted blind that matched the woodwork, or a neutral tone of stained ones that would kind of match the wood floors in our rooms.

We all passed around that catalog and then put our heads together and came up with the unanimous decision that blinds that matched the wood trim on the windows would be best, as stained ones could fade or warp in the sunlight. Since it had already been determined that the bedrooms all had windows of the same size this would also make it easier to order all one size, all one shade of white. It was also agreed upon that since our goal had been to keep the downstairs spaces bright and open feeling, the same color for the shutters there would be preferable. Sam and Carole agreed with us for their spaces, but their windows were slightly smaller than those in the main house, and the same held true for Ben and Ken's unit over the garage. Grandfather had those window measurements on a more detailed information sheet and since these were not custom window coverings, stock sizes would do, that would make our order easier and faster to fill. He then told us that our requests would be faxed to the two companies and our furniture would most likely arrive by the middle of November, and he expected the window shutters and blinds to all be delivered by then as well.

 We were still sitting there when Jan jumped up and pulled his cell phone from his pocket and we could tell it wasn't a personal call just from the way his tone remained business like and soon he had handed his cell to Grandpa and he smiled as he listened and said that he would like the closing to happen on or before the middle of next month. He suggested they do the closing via Skype and they could fax copies back and forth and the originals could be overnighted and signed by all involved in the transaction. Once he had gotten off the phone, he handed it back to Jan and announced to the room that his offer for the property had been accepted and the selling party, a bank, wanted a quick closing so it had been arranged that it would happen after he returned to Florida in a day and be all wrapped up by next Wednesday. He then turned to Mike, and me and asked if we'd mind camping out in the main house on the weekends until the furniture was delivered, then everyone locally could move in and maybe by then the Clarkes would be all set to move as well.

The other local couples, Ben and Ken, and Carole and Sam, as well as Tim, all spoke up and said that they too would stay over and camp out on the weekends, and Grandfather had a sly smile on his face as he said he really appreciated their offers, but he just got another idea. He said that he knew that the next day was a Sunday, but he bet that he could find a furniture store open that would be able to provide us with mattress sets at least, and we could get sheet sets and blankets and pillows so we would all be comfortable as we waited for the rest of the furnishings to be delivered. He thought that if we could get the bare necessities in ahead of time that we might be even more ready to move into the house right after our exams were over on the 15thof December, and the Clarkes could move in whenever they were able to, and if Sam and Carole had no objections, they could be the responsible adults on the property until the Clarkes arrived.

And so, it was arranged. Mike and I went shopping with Granddad and Jan and Matt the next day for bedding as the ladies went shopping for some kitchen necessities and towels and sheets. Of course, Grandpa saw rugs he really liked as well as the eight sets of Queen sized mattress and box springs sets and he was assured that delivery of all would be made before the end of the next week. Mike and I had Wednesdays free of classes all afternoon so the delivery was set up for the following Wednesday at two in the afternoon as the property closing would have happened by then.

When we returned to campus, Mike and I decided that if we were going to be helpful watching the new property after the closing next week, we ought to get as far ahead in our studies as we could. Yes, some of our research could be done online, but there really is nothing like having to look up resources in a book, I think the information gathered just stays with you longer. Mike agrees, so we made ourselves comfortable when we were working on assignments that we knew would require some research. Soon we realized that the other seats at our table were occupied by Tim and Ben, also doing their assignments just a little ahead of their class work. Who says that great minds don't think alike?

We all got text messages from Matt on Wednesday at noon and he told us the closing was complete. Signed deeds were in Grandfather's hands and the sets of keys for the property were in a secured location, at the Realtor's office, all we had to do was swing by and pick them up, they were expecting us there this afternoon. He encouraged us to explore the property, including the outbuildings. Anything that struck us as odd we were to let him, Jan, or Grandfather know, no matter how late in the day it was, if it was something we thought was important, if it was a maintenance issue we should probably snap a picture and include it in an email to him.

That afternoon Tim came with us to pick up the keys and also went with us to oversee the deliveries.


Author's note:

This story was inspired by a reader who sent me a note back in January. He asked me to write about a boy about to age out of the system who finds he has a wealthy grandfather through a DNA test. Thank you, David W. for the wonderful suggestion, my imagination went wild while I was writing this. It was actually fun. Art 

Comments appreciated at Art West