The knock was a surprise, the news a shock.
The three men stood stoic on the pavers, as the younger woman struggled to stay composed.
“My father, he died.”
This area was mostly orange and avocado groves when he crossed the border from Mexico. Livestock grazed between the trees on the bigger ranch, just over the hill, where he got his first job, using the skills he’d learned from his grandfather: tending horses and gardens, fixing anything with an engine, working the land.
Things he did here, too, for almost 45 years.
I bought this small ranch from the original owner, who’d hired him in 1979. He’d started working for her outside, but helped more inside over the years as her health failed. His stories of what used to be grounded me deeper in this place, and when I found out how long he’d been around, I told him he’d always have a job.
I’d just seen him yesterday. He’d been moving slower the last couple of months… still here, twice a week, sometimes doing jobs I wasn’t sure needed to be done, and oftentimes jobs no one else would do.
Jobs that folks posting in comments sections sure aren’t doing.
He always asked about my mom and dad. 
How my music was going. 
If I was eating ok.
He loved my dogs. And my horses.
He came to my wedding. 
He was part of my family.
The knock was a surprise, the news a shock.

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