Chad stood, "Everything is set here for the funeral, let's go get something to eat and then go see the lawyer and whoever else we need to see. We probably need to go to the funeral home and make sure that the there is nothing that we need to take care of."
Chad had let everyone know that the meeting was closed by standing. He added "We would be pleased if you would join us for lunch if your busy schedules permit such an extravagance."
Dad whispered to Chad, "Chad, back off. You are upsetting some people."
Chad was almost shaking, but he said loudly enough for everyone to hear, "Granddad, I am not going to back off. It is obvious that the state bureaucrats are more concerned about stupid regulations than about the needs of the individuals they are to be looking out for. Perhaps they should change the regulations to be more flexible and spend more time taking care of each case individually instead of saying, 'But we can't do this because the regulations say so.' Mr. Stone, it would seem to me that maybe you should cause those regulations to be rewritten since you are in a position to do so.'"
Chad didn't give anyone a chance to reply because he walked out of the room. Father Roberts spoke, "Jerry, I agree that your office has gotten caught up in the mess of relying on regulations rather than the individual needs. I am just amazed that someone as young as Chad realized that."
Both of the Fathers, as well as Mr. Stone and Mrs. Young, accompanied the party to lunch and nothing further was said about the placement of the children. After lunch, the first stop was the funeral home and Todd Gussler met them. He ushered the party into the meeting room and started, "Chad and Tim, we will be refunding you nearly a thousand dollars after all costs are paid."
Chad looked and Mr. Gussler, "Sir, the reason we stopped by is to make sure everything is ready for tonight."
Mr. Gussler looked at Chad and Tim, "I don't think you young men realize how many people will be here tonight and at the service tomorrow. The story of your parents' deaths has drawn a lot of attention. I am sure that there will be many people that you don't know, so my advice to you is to smile and thank them for coming."
Tim spoke up, "We'll be good at the thank you part, but Chad will have a difficult time with the smiling part, because he will be worried about his two sons."
Mr. Gussler was shaking his head, "You didn't mention that there were two grandsons in the obituary."
Chad interrupted, "Mr. Gussler, I deliberately chose not to list them in the obituary because my sire and his wife had disowned us. I don't even want my sons to be associated with the Harmon name."
Mr. Gussler and everyone got the message that this was not something to be discussed any further.
Chad took over again, "Mr. Gussler, the reason we stopped by was to see if there was anything else we needed to do for tonight or tomorrow."
Mr. Gussler shook his head no, "Chad and Tim, I think everything is set. We'll be here to help you in any way we can."
Mr. Stone and Mrs. Young were beginning to feel like they were at a circus side show. They were both amazed at how assertive and mature Chad was.
Frank led the group to an office that said Mr. Raymond Crouch, Attorney at Law. Frank had made an appointment to meet with Mr. Crouch at 2:30. When they walked into the office, Frank announced, "Hi, I'm Frank Wilkins, I believe that Mr. Crouch is expecting us."
The lady at the desk looked up at the assembled group, "Why don't you come into the conference room and I'll inform Mr. Crouch that you are here. We weren't expecting this many people."
The party went in and sat down and a gentleman about Frank's age came in through another door. He greeted Frank, and Frank made the introductions. Frank didn't waste any time, "Ray, these are the Harmon's two oldest sons. We need to make sure that the document that we have here is the latest will and testament of Mr. and Mrs. Harmon that you have seen or know about."
Ray opened his file, "I have been Mr. and Mrs. Harmon's lawyer ever since I opened my door. I must say they weren't the most pleasant people I have ever met, but they were good clients and always paid their bills. The will that you have in front of you is the last one that they had drawn up. As I told you on the phone, Mr. Harmon had called and made an appointment for next week. He said that he wanted to change his will to make sure that his two heathen sons didn't benefit from his estate."
Tim started to laugh, "Mr. Crouch, I am one of those heathen sons and my older brother sitting there is the other one. We are not uncivilized and we do have a strong faith in God or we wouldn't be here with the two Fathers."
Chad looked at Mr. Crouch, "Sir, just because Mr. Harmon said he wanted to change his will does not change the fact that the funds were to be entrusted to me, does it?"
Mr. Crouch shook his head, "Chad, the will that you have a copy of is the legal document of record, since it has been registered with the county and state and has not been rescinded. It may take some time for Mr. Wilkins and me to get the will through probate, but you should receive the money. I can assure you that we will take every step that we can to make it happen as quickly as possible."
"In the meantime I suggest that you get with Mr. Wilkins and that you and Tim write wills to make sure that the money is used for the intended purposes. I also suggest that you set up accounts in each of the children's names so that they are also protected in the eventuality that something should happen to either of you."
Chad started to laugh a nervous laugh, "Thank you for your advice Mr. Crouch. I have one last question, is there anyway that the state can take the money away from my control because I am a minor."
Dad told me later that the look on Mr. Stone's and Mrs. Young's faces was one that had to be seen to believed. They both turned white. Mr. Stone finally regained his composure and asked, "Chad, do you really think we would try to do that?"
Chad didn't back down, "From everything that I have seen and heard from you, it would seem that you probably have a regulation about a minor controlling funds of a deceased person. I will repeat this one more time, if you try to separate the seven of us and take my sons away from me, I will fight the state of Iowa and you two people personally tooth and nail."
Frank intervened, "Chad, you made your point. But I want everyone to know that both I and Dad Long will be there to fight for all of the Harmon's offspring."
I called Dad on my cell phone as we were about to enter the suburbs of Iowa City. Dad answered his phone, "Dad, we are on the outskirts of Iowa City where do you want us to meet you?"
I could hear a sigh of relief, "Doug, why don't you meet us at my house. We are at the lawyer's office and we are about ready to leave. We should be there before you are."
Dad turned to the assembled people, "I don't think there is anything else to be accomplished now; we need to leave so we can meet the rest of the children. We'll see some of you perhaps at the viewing tonight and we will definitely see the two Fathers tomorrow at the funeral service."
Chad, Dad and Tim rose to leave. They left after shaking hands with everyone. When Chad was away from the others, he just about lost it, "Granddad, did I come on too strong?"
Tim was laughing, "Heck you weren't coming on strong, you were downright bossy. I think you stood Mr. Stone and Mrs. Young on their ears."
"Chad, I agree that you were a little bit overwhelming, but when Father Roberts supported you, I think that Mr. Stone and Mrs. Young started to pay attention, and you asked the perfect questions in Mr. Crouch's office to serve notice that the state agency was going to be watched. I think you got their attention. Now what should we do for dinner?"
Chad being his normal self suggested, "Why don't we stop and buy some lunch meat, bread and some fruit and we can have a light meal?"
Tim wasn't buying into that, "Granddad, why don't we order some pizzas and chicken wings and breadsticks. The other kids would think they were in heaven."
Chad didn't back down, "But they will get all messy, especially Billy and Bobby."
Dad put him down, "We'll take care of that when and if it happens. Now would you two just relax?"
When we arrived at Dad's house, the children were all carrying little satchels. They were dressed in jeans and tee shirts. Chad got the funniest look on his face. "You can't go to the viewing dressed like that."
Bobby answered for the group, "Grandmother thought it would be better and we would be more comfortable to travel. We will change into our good clothes for the visitation and the funeral and then we change again for the ride home. Kevin brought you and Tim some clean clothes for tomorrow. We are going to spend the night. Grandmother said, "That with the price of gas, it would be silly to drive back to Des Moines and come back in the morning. She said to tell you that nothing was going to happen to Mark and Jon. "
That was not what Chad wanted to hear. He looked at me, "But Dad, you said we would be going home tonight and coming back tomorrow."
Both Kendra and I went and put our arms around Chad. Kendra spoke for the two of us, "Chad, Grandma and Grandpa Long are spending the night with Grandmother Walker. They promised that they would call if there was a problem. We ladies are going to spend the night at Grandmother Walker's house with Uncle Mike and Uncle Doug. You guys are stuck here with Granddad Walker."
Dad picked up on that, "Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, Kendra. You sure know how to deflate an ego."
Chad was almost smiling but maintained his composure, "Okay what do you want for dinner? I thought we could have a sandwich and some fruit."
Kevin answered for the group, "On the way here, we decided that we wanted some Pizza Supremes from Godfather's Pizza with some chicken wings and bread sticks and a couple of the desert pizzas for after the visitation."
Dad went to order the food and Chad went to find something to drink. He came back and asked, "Dad, may I please borrow your car so I can go get something to drink?"
I handed him my keys and some money. He looked at me with a questioning look. I reminded him, "Don't forget, we are going to need some things for breakfast as well. Why don't you take Kendra with you?"
The rest of the young people were in the family room and Dad told Mike and me about what had happened during the day. He concluded, "You guys would have been so proud of your oldest son. He didn't back down from anyone. I think back to the first time I saw him; it was like he was a snail hiding in his shell and now he is like a tiger ready to attack. We need to get him and all of the children enrolled in school and quick."
Our conversation was interrupted by the return of Chad and Kendra. They were both carrying food into the kitchen and putting it away. I went to help them and Chad looked at me, "Thanks Dad, there are several bags that need to come in. Maybe Dad Mike could help you."
I watched as Chad quickly chopped up the things for a tossed salad and put a homemade dressing on it in a big bowl. He sat it on the table with small bowls and put plates at each of the twelve places. He put milk at nine of the places and then came to ask what Mike, Dad and I would like.
Dad looked at Chad and said, "I'd like a beer, it is in the downstairs refrigerator."
Both Mike and I shook our heads In agreement. Chad was at a loss for a minute, "Well okay, if you think you can handle it and brush your teeth good, they'll be right up."
The three beers were at our places when the pizzas arrived, Chad made sure that everyone had some of the salad and it was like the garbage disposal was at work around the table and everything disappeared. When everyone was finished, Chad asked, "Kendra, would you please take my sisters and make sure that they are ready for this evening. Kevin and Tim, take Bobby and Billy and make sure they are ready and I'll do the cleanup. Now, everyone move and that includes you old men."
I went and put my tie on and made sure that I was presentable and went back to talk to Chad. "Son, everything will turn out just fine."
Chad looked at me with tears in his eyes, "I am afraid of what those two pricks might do. I would never forgive myself if anything ever happened to my brothers and sisters. I am also afraid that the state is going to separate us, and Dad, we can't let that happen. Can't you do some on air editorials to let everyone know how caught up the state agencies are in regulations that they don't consider what they may be doing to young people and what is best for them."
I pulled Chad close, "Chad, let's just get through tonight and tomorrow and then we can take on the state. You need to know, that I am only the news director and I am not the person responsible for the station's editorials."
Chad looked at me, "Dad, I am probably overreacting as usual. But I feel like my life has been stolen away from me and I can't do anything about it."
I held him close, "Chad, you are not overreacting. You are so young and you have had a lot dumped on you in the last two weeks. Go and get ready for the visitation. I pulled Chad close and hugged him, I love you, Son."
Finally everyone was assembled and Chad gave everyone some last minute instructions. "I want everyone to be polite and thank people for coming and don't let them know how you really felt about our parents. We still have each other and we need to take care of each other. Now let's go and meet the few people who come."
When we got to the funeral home, we were met by Detective Ralph Frazier and Detective Ben Taylor. They pulled Chad and Tim aside and Detective Taylor spoke, "We are here to make sure that nothing happens to you tonight and there are two other officers in plain clothes who will be helping us. We would appreciate it if you would not all stand together. There will be two additional squad cars standing by outside the home, in case of any suspicious activity."
Both young men gulped, but Chad was able to speak, "Thank you Detectives, for being here. It is only going to last for a long hour."
When we entered the room where the visitation was going to take place, Chad made sure that all of the five younger children looked at Mr. and Mrs. Harmon in their caskets. Billy looked up at Chad, "That is the happiest I have ever seen them. I guess they must have gone to heaven."
The seven children were standing apart as the first visitors arrived. Chad met them and thanked them for coming and the room got so full that they had to open another room and there was no way that the children could talk to everyone. The hour was just about up when two rough looking young men came in and Chad motioned for his brothers and sisters to get out of the way. The older of the two punks looked at Mr. Harmon's casket and spit. "You son of a bitch, we'll get what's coming to us."
The two thugs left and Detective Frazier and Detective Taylor came to talk to Chad and me. "We know who we are looking for, now. Unfortunately they didn't try anything tonight and we had no reason to arrest them. There were too many people around. Captain Jackson was here and he said to tell you that you handled the situation just fine. He wanted us to remind you that tomorrow might not go so well, so be on your guard. The police department will make every effort to keep you all safe."
We went back to Dad's house we had the desert pizzas. After Chad and Kendra had taken care of the cleanup, we collected the girls' and Mike's and my bags and went to Grandmother's house. Chad reminded us that we needed to be at Dad's house at 8:00 for breakfast before we went to the church.
When we got to Grandmother's house, we showed the girls where they were to sleep. The Harmon girls couldn't believe the rooms. I guess the situation at Dad's house was similar when Billy and Bobby had their own room and Tim and Kevin would be sharing a room and Chad had his own room. Of course, Dad had his own room.
I think all of the occupants of the rooms except perhaps for Kevin and Tim's and Mike's and mine were quiet immediately. I am not sure what happened between Kevin and Tim, but I do know that Mike and I took full advantage of being in an environment where we felt like no one was going to intrude on our space.
After Mike had made me feel totally loved, I looked at him, "You don't supposed the rest of our lives are going to be this hectic do you?"
Well, I am so proud of Chad for standing up and letting people know that he is not going to back down and let people walk all over him. He is a very good father and a very good brother, and son. He deserves to be happy and loved, as do all the children. I certainly hope all goes well for the wonderful family.