I was 12 when we were having a get together at our house, one of the guests became gravely ill and sadly he didn't make it. One by one guests started to get sick with the same thing, cholera.
I looked at my pa as he was trying to keep things in order and keep everyone calm. But deep down I was scared that pa or one of my brothers would become ill. I rushed to pa and he held me tight saying that everything was alright. But everything wasn't alright.
There was still that fear in the pit of my stomach that wouldn't go away. Within the hour the fear grew even more and deeper as I watched pa collapse to the ground barely able to move. My two older brothers rushed to his side and helped him to bed. Already he was drenched with sweat and each breath was a struggle. And the fear in the pit of my stomach hit so low it almost touched the bottom.
I tried to be strong and not cry in front of pa. I wanted to be more grown up like my brothers. That night I laid in my bunk and watch pa across the room, staggering breaths and heaving coughs racked from his chest. I saw as my oldest brother sat in a chair next to pa as he wiped the sweat from pa's brow and put a cool cloth on pa's head.
My brother turned and looked up at me, and I could see the fear and worry in his eyes. "Pa's strong, Joe. He'll be fine."
With that Adam slowly leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. And I let my tears fall from mine.
I woke the next morning hoping that it had been a bad dream. But when I rolled over the only thing I saw different was now Hoss was in the chair next to pa.
"How is he?" I asked. My brother gave me a look that made me feel hopeless.
"He's not good, Joe. Fever is higher than ever."
I rolled back where Hoss couldn't see my tears, thought I think he knew I was crying. He got up from the chair and walked over to me and gently put his hand on my back. I turned to face him, he too had tears in his eyes. He was scared too. I leaned forward and we hugged each other tight. It didn't last long cause pa started to cough and Adam came in with some tea for pa.
"Adam," Pa rasped.
"Take care of your brothers."
"You know I will."
Pa gave a slight smile and closed his eyes. Thinking he was dead I jumped from my bed and rushed to pa's side. He was still breathing but every breath still a struggle.
The day dragged on forever it seemed. All I wanted was this to be over with and pa to be well again. Just as it was getting dusk I stepped outside and for the first time since that morning I let my tears fall.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned to see Adam. He gave me a gentle smile and nod as if to say that he understood. "Quiet night." He said softly.
I just nodded. "Adam…"
"We're all worried about pa Joe. Myself included. I've seen pa sick before but never like this. I guess cause he's pa and has always been there I took it for granite and thought that he's always be there."
"I'm trying so hard to be strong. Be more like you and Hoss."
"Believe me Joe, even Hoss and I have shed our tears for pa.. It's okay Joe."
"Adam, I'm so scared. What if pa dies? What then?"
"You have Hoss and I Joe. And it's okay to be scared. So am I?
"He's my pa too." Adam gave me a hug. "Why don't you go in and help Hop-Sing."
Hop-Sing gave me some tea for pa. I asked if pa would be alright. He looked sad and I feared his response. "I not know little Joe." He then told me that only God knows. I walked into the room where pa was he was sleeping but then began to cough,
"I love you pa." I whispered.
"And I love you Joe." I looked up into pa's eyes and my eyes began to fill with tears.
"Pa, you said everything was alright. But it's not."
Pa coughed a bit again. "Joe, I still believe that everything will be alright."
"Not if you die it won't"
"You still have Adam and Hoss."
"I'm scared I won't remember you. I already have a hard time remembering ma."
"Joseph…" Pa reached out to grab my hand and squeezed it. He then began to cough again. I help the cup of tea to pa's lips as he slowly drank all he could. He then gave me a weak smile, leaned his head back on the pillow and closed his eyes.
Then next day there was no real change in pa or any of the guests who had gotten sick. On the fourth morning the other guests began to get better but when I checked on pa I saw no change. Hop-Sing came in and said that pa's fever was down, but he still needed time.
There were a couple men in town who had heard of the cholera outbreak and tried to make us leave. I was outside with my brothers when Adam went up to talk to them and Hoss went inside. I stood on the porch almost frozen. For I now began to fear for Adam when one of the men said that he'd kill him.
Just as he said it Hoss came back outside, but he wasn't alone. Pa was standing next to him. He breaths still weak, but he stood tall with strength. You could tell that he wasn't well enough yet and should be in bed still.
But pa was also very angry at the them who had his gun pointed at Adam. He walked over to him took the gun and told him to leave. Shortly we all went back in. I was both relieved and worried to see pa out of bed.
Hop-Sing checked pa out. He said that the fever was mostly broke and he'd be just fine. I don't think I'd ever smiled so big. Nor do I think I'd ever seen Adam no Hoss smile so big. Pa gave us all a hug then went back to rest.
The next day pa's fever fully broke and he once again as Adam put it was pa.