Frank Kendrick loses his son

Two-minute story

Frank Kendrick loses his son

He didn’t need to live in the farm house. Once he had retired from the big farm he and his wife took a house in the village from where she could walk easily to church and to the shop. There was a smaller farm on the estate which Mr Kendrick took over – he was only seventy and he needed somewhere to keep his hunters, with a bit of farming to do still. I moved into the farm house and kept my pigs in the buildings there.

Gradually, we got to know each other. One of my jobs was to keep an eye on the place for him but most days he would arrive in the yard and we would spend a few minutes talking about crops and the weather. Gradually our conversations broadened and there was advice for me, getting started. From Mr Kendrick there also came something of his background, growing up on a farm in the Midlands, working for a horse-breaker when there was no work for him at home.

One day I asked whether he and Mrs Kendrick had any children. He had given up a large farm at a time when farmers’ sons, and increasingly their daughters would be keen to take over from them, but there was no sign of any family wanting to take over from him. No, he said, they had no children. There was a pause, as if there was something else he wanted to say.

His wife had suffered three miscarriages and had then carried a son to full term. Aged two and a half – the age my younger grandson is now as I write this – their little boy ran out from the farm house, into a pond, fell over and drowned. There were no more children.

Mr Kendrick’s voice did not falter as he told me this. The pace of his speaking and the level tone of his voice did not change as he made very clear just how tragedy had struck them not once, but several times. There was no wishing for sympathy, no expectation that I would be moved; Mr Kendrick simply told me just what I needed to know.

All I could do was listen.

What caused the writer to ask Mr Kendrick whether he and his wife had a family?

Why do you think the writer makes a reference to his grandson?

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