Friday, March 19, 2010

Voyages

Kat thought about how when she was a little girl and frightened or worried she would whisper to herself, Angels spread your wings around and protect me, repeating it as many times as necessary for calmness to return to her. She needed the incantation now. Her father lay dying on the floor.

They were in the study after returning from another visit to the doctor. Complications from bronchitis this time. Her father napped on the sofa while she read but awoke with a suffocating cough and tried to stand up. He reached out for her but she could not lift his weight, and he slid to the floor.

“No hospital,” he rasped. “No more. Please.”

She nodded, though she did not tell him that other family members had already called the ambulance and were waiting outside for the paramedics.

Her father looked at her and smiled. Just yesterday he told his daughter he was ready to go. “Look how old I am,” he had said. “I've done everything I wanted, your mother has been gone for so many years, and you're all grown up. There's nothing left but the waiting.” 

As Kat sat on the floor holding her father's hand and stroking his hair, she knew that no matter how much she wished it, he would not recover from this bout of illness. She was resigned and accepted this truth, and would wait with him.

He had loved the sea, and as a young man he left an accounting job to join the Merchant Marines. Kat and her mother would welcome him home with joyful kisses during his months-long leave, and send him off with tearful ones when he returned to the ships. His stories around the family table after the dishes were done told of Lucullan seafood dinners along the Mediterranean shore, rollicking taberna-hopping, bullfights in Spain, and wistful moments lying awake on the ship's deck, with smoke rising from his cigarettes to meet the stars in a Greek night. Frayed photographs showed him sitting with friends in a French cafe with cup in hand, intensity in his light eyes, and a black beret rakishly gracing his right profile.

“You're just like a character in an Ernest Hemingway story,” Kat told him once and made him laugh.

Whenever he returned from his voyages, his usual shout of, “Where is my Pussy Kat?” brought her running down the stairs shrieking and answering with, “Where are my presents?” The first time her mother admonished her for this, her father shushed his wife. “Just our little joke,” he said.

Now, his voice whispered, “I am so tired.”

They heard the sirens of the approaching ambulance. Her father closed his eyes.

“Angels spread your wings around and protect him,” Kat said, and went to tell the others.

48 comments:

  1. Sweet, poignant tale. Angels, spread your wings and protect us all. Well done.

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  2. Yeah, I hope he flew away before the stretcher got wheeled in.

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  3. What a lovely moment you've captured. I've been through something similar - it's so hard. Well done.

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  4. He lived on his own terms and died on his own terms. That's a good death. And with someone to pray for him. Thoughtfully written Marisa.

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  5. My daddy was a merchant marine. I miss him.
    Great story,
    Tex

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  6. They don't make daddies like these anymore, which isn't a bad thing, but what an ode to a relic such as the Merchant Marine. This was such a good flash story.

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  7. This is a very sweet and sad tale, taking the fear out of an inevitable event. Thank you for sharing it.

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  8. Love the details you put into the back story Marisa. Very well handled.

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  9. What a wonderful representation of a life well-lived. You really did a beautiful job giving us such a vivid peek into his vibrant years, which made it believable that these people had reached this kind of healthy acceptance. I'm with Mark, I hope he beat the stretcher, too.

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  10. A poignant reminder to live a life worthy of leaving behind . Beautiful, Marisa. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  11. A lovely deep warm bond depicted between a father and daughter. A very dignified passing. Well done.


    Marc Nash

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  12. Gentle and poignant. You told your story well.

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  13. A life well lived indeed.
    I reckon he escaped the stretcher

    My dad was not in the navy (the very thought makes me chuckle, he hates exercise of all kinds), but he used to be very intrepid and visit exotic places like the Phillipines and Papua New Guinea (and bring me presents!)

    A sad topic, but not a sad tale.

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  14. This is a very touching tale. Well told.

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  15. It's hard to comment when your eyes are all teared up. Maybe that says enough xx

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  16. I could easily place myself in the daughter's situation, and I think you captured that bond between father and daughter extremely well. Beautifully written.

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  17. Ah, what a lovely piece of writing.

    "Angels, spread your wings and protect us all."

    There's something about that line. . . it'll stick with me for a long time.

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  18. Wonderfully moving story - it reminds me of my Grandfather's passing. Brought a tear to my eye. Well done.

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  19. This was very sweet. Simple, but in its simplicity one of the best #fridayflashes I've read of yours. Uniformly sentimental, unapologetic and having nothing to apologize for.

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  20. Heartbreakingly beautiful. It made me misty thinking of how I lost my mother and husband. You did a great job bringing out the emotion of the daughter and the resignation of the father. Wonderful!

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  21. This one brought a tear to my eye. A great portrait of a daughter losing the father she loved. Thank you for this.

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  22. So beautifully told Marisa. I love how you weaved the father and daughter's bond between the past and the present so seamlessly. One of your best.

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  23. Very endearing tale of a life well lived and a daughter standing by him. Lovely!

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  24. A wonderful, touching piece Marisa.

    These moments of dignity in our ordinary muddled lives are what make people great. This is lovely. Thank you.
    Simon.

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  25. Beautiful piece. A little difficult for me to read (my father died this past December), but healing, too. Because of the angel ;^)

    Thank you...

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  26. Lovely and sad and not sad. Well done.

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  27. Really sweet, Marisa. Real. I loved the paragraph about the father in the merchant marines, that wistful moment smoking and looking at the stars. I read it twice, I enjoyed it so much.
    And the part where the father asked not to go to the hospital, that's exactly what my father said just before he died.
    Angels wings... so pretty.

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  28. This was such a touching story. You wrote it so well and captured their lifelong relationship and their culture.

    It brought back the memories of my dad's passing-from lung problems, too-and how I was the only one there at the end.

    I hope they didn't revive him.

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  29. I really liked his comparison to an Ernest Hemingway fisherman. When I read that after the paragraph about his life at sea, I thought, yes, that's exactly how i'd pictured him. great stuff. thanks

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  30. Very sweet and nostalgic, Marisa. I wish life was this simple and that at the end, we'd have someone who loves us unconditionally to sit there and hold our hand. Beautiful write.

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  31. A life well-lived. A real tearjerker, Marisa. Well done.

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  32. Thoughtful, quiet moment echoing a life well lived, and an end we all hope for. Very nice.

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  33. What a lovely story. At least he was with someone who appreciated him at the end.

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  34. Reminded me a bit of the final scene in Hamlet, 'And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.'

    Sad and lovely.

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  35. I'm glad to have read this.

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  36. Lovely story, capturing an important and real moment in life and death.

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  37. What a touching story Marisa. I hope I'm this satisfied, and dignified, when my time comes. You made me smile. :)

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  38. Perfect last sentence, a beautiful letting go. Wonderful.

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  39. A wonderful life well lived, and a very sad topic. What exists between fathers and daughters is difficult to write authentically, but you did it very well.

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  40. Beautiful. It's a very honest story, evocative and memorable. You did a fine, fine job, Marisa. Really well done. *sniffle*

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  42. A touching, well told story. You do a great job detailing the strong connection between daughter and father.

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  43. This makes me want to cry. Both my parents say, "I'm getting old." I tell them, "You're not allowed to!!" I can't imagine life without them. Your story brings the father to life and his daughter's loss and love.

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  44. So touching, this was wonderful! That last line will stick with me for a long time I'm sure! :)

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  45. I bet the angels did spread their wings around him for his last journey. So sweet and sad! Nicely told!

    Cecilia

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  46. Losing someone is painful, but according to my grandmother, so is hanging on waiting for peace when most of those you loved have passed away already.

    Tender writing. Far from morbid.

    Relieved is how I feel, and I guess how the daughter will feel when the wrench is not so raw.

    I lost a friend a while ago who had been ill for decades. I don't mean to sound cruel, but it was again it was a relief, for everyone, but for her primarily.

    A great piece.

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  47. I keep reading you, but not commenting. Thought I should finally. This one gave me chills. Loved it.

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