The telegram from his mother arrived at Yantanya Station for Bill Kelly like a bolt out of the blue. Although he was aware his father was ill, he was summoned home for Patrick's funeral.
The rain swept across the Aldgate cemetery as Bill observed his family at the funeral. He was angry with Kate, his mother, but most of all he was angry with Eddy. The lazy bastard had been hanging around and helping on the farm and running his cows with Kate's since his father had been sick. If they had been playing around it was disgusting.
Patrick had died in his seventy-fifth year and deserved to be treated with respect and dignity by his forty-year-old widow. He came directly from the railway station to the funeral and hadn't time to see his family. The rain washed down his face under his collar and saturated his back as he felt the cold liquid cleanse his sorrow and sadness. He stepped into the circle of the funeral and his mother waved for him to join her under the umbrella with Eddy. He waved and stayed where he was welcoming the saturating rain.
The rain sleeted through the gum trees and mixed with the soil turning the ground into mud. The gleaming black hearse stood by with its interior exposed as the mourners sombre clothes were covered with various raincoats and umbrellas hiding their faces. Members of the Labor Party and the Railway's Union swelled the crowd as they honoured one of their own. The dark rain-coated figures looked like sentinels or guides directing his father into Heaven or more likely Hell. They were impatient for the proceedings to finish so they could find a dry place out of the rain. He felt like yelling, his father was a good man and worth getting wet for.
Bill examined the solemn faces and decided his father would hate this. ‘There's only two things I want ya to do son,' Bill remembered his father saying, ‘dance at me funeral and go into politics for the Labor Party.' He decided he had no hope of going into politics. Patrick came to Australia from Ireland many years ago after an English landlord persecuted him. His first wife had been an Irish girl and they had three children. He lost them all to Yellow Fever. He told Bill to never trust the English and Australia will be a great country one day as long as the English don't bugger it up like they've buggered up everything else.
The Pastor finished droning out his prayers and the funeral was over. Putting his anger aside, Bill approached his family and kissed his mother ignoring Eddy. ‘Are we going to dance when we go home? Dad always wanted us to dance at his funeral,' he asked his mother.
‘I don't think it's right,' said Kate.
‘G'Day Bill,' said Eddy as he held his hand out for Bill to shake it.
Bill ignored the hand. ‘Why don't you piss off and let us grieve as a family,' said Bill.
Eddy let his hand drop to his side. ‘That's enough of that,' said Kate. ‘I'd never managed without Eddy. He's been marvellous. If you're going to be like that you can turn around and go back where you came from.'
Bill felt tears biting at his eyes. He realised his mother's house wasn't home anymore. His home was part of a bunkhouse on Yantanya Station. Eddy was more welcome than he was. ‘You go on Mum. I want to be with Dad for awhile.'
Kate nodded and left Bill standing in the drizzle alone, staring at his father's coffin lying at the bottom of the grave.
He placed his arms up and started to sway. Then he sang his father's favourite song, ‘After the ball is over, after the ball is o'er,' he sang in rhythm as he danced around in the mud. Tears streamed down his face and mingled with the rain as he remembered his father singing him the song when he was a child.
He could only stand being home for two days. He was disgusted at how close his mother and Eddy was. The train took him away and he sat back and wondered how he lost his family.
Four weeks later he received another telegram from Kate. She had married Eddy and was expecting a baby.