Word count: 970
My room has a cozy glow, a warm and reassuring air. I feel safe, loved, and at peace.
There is no pain, no distress, just an overwhelming weariness that tells me I’m ready, ready to let go.
It wasn’t always that way of course, at first I was so angry, so frustrated. But then my illness, my predicament had taken me completely by surprise. I was struck down without any warning…no, no I am doing my old friend an injustice by making such a statement. Sam had warned me over and over, his wise words falling on deaf ears. ‘Take it easy’ he would say ‘relax a little’ ‘have the boys assume more responsibility’; but I’ve been my own worst enemy. I didn’t listen, stubbornly continuing to call the tune long after I was capable of dancing to it myself!
Ill health tends to accompany you into old age. I suppose if it didn’t man would be immortal. Still, I didn’t want to accept the inevitable, certain an iron will would keep infirmity at bay. At three score and ten I was still climbing into the saddle, these old bones protesting the indignity, as loudly as the leather itself!
But then I’ve always been a doer. The good Lord put me here for a purpose, and it wasn’t just to sit and watch the grass grow. At least I can meet my maker knowing I’m not guilty of at least one of the seven deadly sins: that of sloth! As for the others…I’m not nearly so sure about those. All I do know is I’ve done the best I can that I’m imperfect, and have a sullied soul but not a black one.
How did I come to that conclusion? Well I’ve had plenty of time of late to reflect on my life. On the good and the bad times, the ecstasy, and the hell; and what lies in between those two extremes. I’ve had a long life and on the whole a good, and happy one, with of course some bad times scattered along the way. As the saying goes ‘into every life a little rain must fall’…well I think I can be forgiven for believing a few cloudbursts have happened in mine!
Loss and loneliness at times were almost impossible to bear; but bear them I did. They also say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ What they don’t tell you is it can also make you harder. I consciously hardened my heart I had to. It wouldn’t take another blow.
Then at a time when it seemed I was to suffer another loss I…well it’s been twenty years since my boys came home. Boys! Grown men even then. They are both fine, decent men. My failing heart swells with pride when I think of them, their love for me; so to their devotion has never been more evident than in this last week.
It was Johnny who found me, slumped over my desk. His insistent voice somehow reaching me in the darkness.
There was panic in his eyes, I had tried to tell him I was alright; but the words wouldn’t come, at least any that made any sense. My tongue felt thick, heavy, and refused to cooperate; my right arm and leg just as rebellious. I had a thundering headache too.
The next thing I remember is waking up in my bed, an unfamiliar face staring down at me. It took me a while; but I eventually realised he was a doctor and I began to wonder then where Sam was. The truth when I realised it was a painful one. Sam Jenkins has been dead almost three years, how could I have forgotten that?
In the blink of an eye my mind, once a lucid, productive energy was reduced to a clouded, feeble mass of uselessness. Sometimes it works, but mostly it holds me hostage within its confines.
I have spells of what I realise is confusion. A fog envelopes me, and I struggle through it; not knowing where I am or where I’m going. I know fear then, lost in a world that just doesn’t make sense.
At times I wish I’d succumbed immediately believing it best for us all, but now I realise we needed this last week. I especially needed these last few days with my sons.
I know some would say I’ve lingered, and call it a living death; but although bedridden, I’ve been aware of life going on around me, and have been made to feel a part of it all still.
My dear-to-my-heart daughter-in-laws have patiently coaxed a little broth into me, gently reminding me to swallow when it stubbornly remained in my throat.
My grandchildren have read to me and told me about their day. Their ‘goodnights’ accompanied, as always, with kisses and hugs.
My boys have sat with me each and every night, wakeful, and ever watchful. They’ve talked to me, encouraged and even bullied me, willing their ‘Old Man’ on; but this is one fight I can’t win.
I’ve weakened considerably today. I know when I next close my eyes it will be for the last time.
My speech never really improved, and that frustrates me the most because there’s something I really need to say to both Johnny, and Scott, before I go.
They are sitting either side of me now. It’s just the three of us and something tells me it’s time.
Determinedly I try to mouth the words but they bid me rest; insist I not tire myself trying to talk. But I must, it’s my very last chance.
I rest a little, and then with my dying breath I’m finally able to tell my sons I love them. As I close my eyes I smile, knowing I have given them my heart.
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