"No, Robbie. I can do it."
Rick was standing firmly in the doorway of the ranch kitchen, trying not to lose his temper. After a week of inactivity, he was fed up with watching Robbie, Ian, Steve and Towne take turns doing his chores and driving into town to get them groceries and stuff.
Unfortunately his son wasn't buying any of his refusal of help this day.
"Pop, Uncle Rudy said no heavy lifting and bending, not until he checks you out this weekend." Robbie said calmly. "I don't have to be at the station for another hour, so it's no trouble for me to get the hay down from the loft."
Rick took a deep breath, but suddenly his frustration started to boil out.
"I know it's no trouble, but I told you, son…" he began, then saw the hurt look on Robbie's face and tried to rein his temper in. "Look, …I can get the hay down, my shoulder's much stronger today, and I have to start using it. Now you just go on to work, I'm sure your mom has some lunch for you to take with you." He added, managing a softer tone.
His son stood his ground. "I know you're better, Pop…but…"
"Robbie, I said I'll do it!" Rick lost his composure, then immediately regretted it as Laurie appeared in the kitchen, an angry look on her face.
"Robbie, would you excuse us…I think I need to speak with your father." She said quietly. The younger Simon nodded, then Rick had sense enough to say, "Thank you, son…."
"It's okay, Pop….I'll just pull the bales down with a rope, then head into town." He responded, with an understanding look at his mother. As soon as he vanished out the back door, Laurie turned on her heel and stalked into the living room. At that moment, Rick's frustration melted as he realized how badly he'd behaved.
Following her into the front room, he waited until she took a seat in her rocking chair, then he sat down in his easy chair and faced her.
"Laurie….I'm sorry." He said, then reached out for her hands. Seeing the true regret in his eyes, Laurie put her two hands in his, then started to choke up as Rick added, "I had no right to yell at Robbie, or turn down his help around the ranch, darlin'."
"Oh, Rick….I'm sorry too. I don't want to get angry with you…" Laurie's eyes filled with tears. "I know you don't like to ask for help or let someone else do your work. Our son and our friends just want to help and keep you from hurting yourself."
"I know, princess…and I appreciate it." He told her. "I promise to wait until Rudy clears me for chores, okay?"
At that Laurie nodded, then to his astonishment she broke into sobs and buried her face in his shoulder. Quickly Rick pulled her into his arms, murmuring, "What is it, sweetheart…what is it my Laurie?"
"I was so scared when I saw Steve pull you out of the lake…I didn't hear you ….I called and called…and I didn't hear you. What if Yancy had taken your watch? You could have drowned!" she wept.
Now Rick saw why everyone had been so overprotective, and he groaned.
"Darlin'…I didn't know….I didn't even realize you'd called to me." He told his wife, holding her gently as he stroked her hair. "I'm all right, sweetheart. You saved me, you gave me life and kept me going. I love you, and I won't ever leave you."
"I love you too…." Laurie sniffed, then managed a smile as Rick dabbed at her wet eyes with a napkin, then kissed her. He felt her snuggle closer to his chest as he added "And I promise I'll have Rudy check us out to figure out why I couldn't hear you and you me."
"That's all I want…." Laurie sighed, then giggled as the beep of a familiar horn sounded in front of their home.
"Does that brother of mine have timing or what…" Rick pretended to grouse, letting his wife help him up, then taking her hand in his as they went to open the door.
Minutes later the Simon brothers were trading hospital stories as Linda and Laurie laughed.
"Now that's more like it, Linny." Laurie said, pouring a pitcher of ice tea. "Only one thing would make me happier…"
"What's that?" Linda asked, as she put together a plate of munchies.
"A.J. accepting Dad's marrying Mom." She replied honestly, then wiped her eyes as Linda gave her an astonished look.
"Honey, what are you talking about? A.J. did accept Dad and Mom's marriage…ever since he realized he wasn't going to lose Mom or Dad…I guess it was something to do with their dad or something."
"It was, sis…and I finally figured it out."
A.J. came into the kitchen, then gave Laurie a hug as he added "Oscar won't replace our father, but I know he's good for Mom, and he's always been there for us. What more could I want for her?"
Laurie beamed and returned his embrace, saying, "Now everything's all right….speaking of which…" she looked out the window, and shivered.
"What is it, Sis?" Linda was concerned, then became frightened when Laurie let go of A.J. and barreled out the door, saying, "It's Robbie….something's wrong! Robbie!"
Almost immediately Rick came running into the kitchen. "I heard Laurie call out….where's Robbie?"
"I don't know, Rick…was he in the barn?" A.J. asked, worried. Rick didn't' wait to answer, but ran outside and almost crashed into his wife at the barn door.
"Rick…help him!" She cried out, pointing. In front of them Robbie was almost pinned down by a bale of hay, as the rope holding it frayed second by second. A second block of hay hung precariously over the edge of the loft.
"Son…don't move." Rick whispered, then gingerly maneuvered around his son to the frayed and torn rope holding the 100 lb weight. Just as the rope began to tear again, Rick used his good arm to grasp Robbie under his arms and pulled him out from under the bale. . Instantly the rope broke, and Rick backed the two of them away as the heavy object crashed in front of them.
"Are you okay, Son?…." Rick anxiously asked, seeing Robbie wince. Giving him a hand up from the barn floor, Rick saw his son take a deep breath.
"Yes, Pop, thanks to you and Mom ….. Robbie started to reply, then Laurie cleared her throat.
"I knew something was wrong…and your father heard me……"
"Sounds like we have some thanks to give on Sunday." Rick said, hugging his son. Laurie added her own embrace, then laughed as A.J. chimed in, "With my brother admitting he was wrong? Amen to that!"
Rick groaned "A.J. …I ought to whipper you…"
"Have to catch me first!" he smirked, and both brothers ran out of the barn. Staring after them, Robbie smiled and shook his head as his mother took his arm.
"Never mind, darling…." Laurie beamed, seeing Jack join in the chase . "Everything's finally back to normal."