Andy Says Goodbye
“Time to get up son, we’ve got to get to the Garvey’s,” Charles said as Albert wiped the sleep from his eyes. “Yea Pa, I’ll be dressed in a few minutes. “ Albert replied. The two of them were going to the Garvey’s to say goodbye to Andy and Jonathon. They were moving to Sleepy Eye to start a freighting business. It had been six months since the death of Andy’s Mother.
Jonathon’s heart was just not into farming anymore. Everywhere he looked he saw Alice. The memories of her cooking dinner every night, and those long conversations in front of the fire every evening, haunted him. It was if she was still there and it had become increasingly difficult to stay in the house they both loved so much.
Andy was experiencing the same heartbreak. He would lay in bed at night, where he could normally hear his Ma and Pa talking, and listen to nothing but the deafening silence. He had cried himself to sleep many a night after his Ma’s death, but there was another hurt deep inside him that was actually worse. He had not spoken to his best friend since the tragedy at the blind school.
Andy’s relationship with the Ingalls had begun the moment he arrived in Walnut Grove. He and Laura had a bond that would last forever since the wild dogs attacked the Ingalls place. He had survived with Mary, Carrie and Laura, what could have been an awful tragedy. Carrie had never forgotten how he protected her during the attack.
Before the fire, he and Albert had simply been inseparable. The hike to Sleepy Eye, defending Albert against the girl that insulted him that day after the pig chasing contest, and the countless fishing trips after school ran through Andy’s mind as he awakened. Albert had even gotten bad grades deliberately in school to make him feel better when Andy’s Ma was teaching.
He had fought many a fight over Albert’s adoption. The ridicule that his best friend had been subjected to was always intolerable to him. When the “B” word came up regarding Albert, he would defend him against boys twice his size if he had to. They had both come a long way since Winoka, and nobody was going to drag his best friend’s name through the mud. And after the fights, when Andy would come to school with a black eye and sometimes swollen lips, he would never let Albert know what had actually happened.
As Charles and Albert made their way to Garvey house, Albert was unusually quiet. He didn’t speak a word throughout the entire ride. He had never been one to be short on words and Charles did not press for him to talk. He figured he was just sad over the Garvey’s departure.
As they approached, Albert could see the loaded wagon in front of the house. That awful day at the blind school flashed before him as they got closer and closer. When they arrived, Albert said; “Pa, I need some time to talk to Andy. Could you ask Mr. Garvey for me when you go inside? I don’t want to go in there.” “I will son, just wait out here.” Charles said.
Andy emerged from the house and saw Albert’s back, as he was leaning up against the back of the wagon. Andy approached him and Albert turned around, revealing the tears that were flowing out of his eyes. “Albert? What’s wrong with you?” Andy asked.
“I really need to talk to you Andy, could you give me a few minutes?” Albert said as he wiped the tears from his eyes. “Sure, we’ll go up in the barn loft, that way we can see when Pa comes out.”
They both sat in the hay right next to opening in the loft. Andy could not believe his eyes. Albert was openly weeping as he was trying to speak. Andy looked him straight in the eyes and said “Albert, there is one thing I have never been able to stand, and that is you is you crying. Come on buddy, straighten up and talk to me.”
Albert somewhat regained his composure and began to speak. “Andy, we haven’t spoken to each other in six months and it is killing me. That, along with this horrible guilt that I have has been terrible. I want you to know that I didn’t mean to start that fire. It was a stupid, horrible mistake. What I am trying to say is that if you can find it in your heart, I am asking for your forgiveness. The thought of me hurting the best friend I have in this world is awful.”
Andy could see the deep hurt in Albert’s eyes as he attempted to console him. “Albert, you would have never been down in that cellar if it hadn’t have been for Clay. That very well could have been me down there instead of you.” Andy began to cry as he put both his arms around Albert. “There is nothing to forgive Albert….nothing to forgive.”
They smiled at each other through the tears as they both felt the same emotion. The heavy weight that had been torturing them both had been lifted from their shoulders. It had happened with the utterance of that one word. “Forgive”.
Jonathon and Charles walked outside as Andy and Albert were walking towards the house. Just before Andy got on the wagon, he hugged Albert again. “I’ll come to Sleepy Eye with Pa when I can. I’m gonna miss ya!” Albert said. “See to it that you do Albert. I wouldn’t have it any other way!” Andy replied.
As Jonathon and Andy disappeared in the wagon, Albert looked up at Charles and said “There goes the best friend I ever had Pa.” Charles simply said “You are a lucky boy Albert! There are lots of people on this earth that will never be able to say that.”