"Good morning, little guy! I hope you slept well," exclaimed Moose as he entered Buddy’s bedroom at 6:00 AM.
"Hey, Dad!" replied Buddy as he happily jumped around. "So glad to see you!"
"Hope you slept well," reaching down to pat Buddy’s head. Moose spied the red bell pepper he bought at Kroger the previous night. “Are you hungry? I see you didn’t eat all your dinner last night. I bought you red bell pepper. It’s nice and sweet. I thought you’d like it.”
Buddy smelled the bell pepper and pushed it out of the way. "Don’t think I want any of this. No offence."
"None taken." Moose placed the pepper in the trash. He got some salad greens out of the refrigerator and a few blueberries, Buddy’s favorite. He carried them back to Buddy who was sitting up quietly.
"Do you still love me?" Buddy asked softly.
"Of course I do!"
"But you haven’t been around much for the last few weeks." Buddy’s soft brown eyes scanned Moose’s face searching for an answer.
Moose was crushed. "Honey, I’ve been putting in a lot of hours at work. That’s all. I’d much rather be here with you."
Moose had not had a day off from work in 2 weeks and wasn’t scheduled for time off for another 4 days. He’d worked at least 10 hours every day and as many as 14 on some. He was exhausted, but felt guilty that he hadn’t spent more time with Bud.
By the time he got home from work on several days, Buddy was already in bed. He missed the time he usually spent playing with the little fellow, but he knew that Buddy needed his rest.
"Dad, why do you have to work so much? Why can’t you be home with us?"
Moose looked at Buddy as he patiently replied, "The company doesn’t have as many people working there as it used to. Those of us left have to do more. There is a lot of work to be done, but not as many people to do it."
"Why doesn’t the company get more people?"
"They are trying to save money. If more people work, the company has to pay more money out. They feel that can’t afford it. In my job, they can require me to work extra without giving me more money."
"But we need you here..." Buddy pleaded.
"I know, but we need the money I get from working to buy the food we eat and pay for the house."
Buddy thought for a moment. Moose reached down and scratched the back of Bud’s neck.
"Ok..." Buddy finally said, reaching for a lettuce leaf to munch. He didn’t feel entirely satisfied by the conversation.
Moose hung his head, his heart breaking and headed toward the door. At the door, he turned. "See you tonight, Buddy."
"Tonight, Dad!" Buddy replied as they parted for the day.