own personal forever

i’d love to tell you about her…

once again he became animated, a hand gestured, his back straightened, eyes gleaming. but then he seemed unsure, he stopped talking and stared out the window.

my heart skipped at that brief glimpse of him, the him i remember.
that look in his eye always said i am living life fuller than you are, but not in a mean way. he always wanted to live it with people but they just had to join him, had to live it his way. there was never a shortage of takers.

yes..please tell me about her.

some kids were kicking a ball outside, he’d been watching them, lost in his head somewhere. as i spoke he turned back towards me, staring, he seemed to be considering whether i was worthy of what he had to say, if i was worthy to hear about her. i sat still and held his eye, as if i had wandered into new turf and were staring down an angry dog.

then he spoke and it surprised me for the briefest of moments how his aged voice croaked. i met her at a bowling club…

once i got him going about her it just flowed as i knoew it would. each time was like a dam that held a lifetime of emotions bursting forth with stories and jokes and thoughts and memories. id heard them all before of course, even featured in some, but for some reason i didnt care. it was warm by the window, the sun was low in the afternoon sky, the glow was orange and we were bathing in it. i was happy to sit in silence and let him talk. i knew it would be dark by the time he stopped, i didn’t care.

was this my penance? to sit each day with a man who looked like my father but knew me not? who spoke of nothing but the mother we all missed so much? as i sat and watched him speak, the lines of his face so familiar though they had deepened every day i had known him, i wished i was as old as he, i wished i remembered nothing of the past except only the best of memories, i wished i had lived and loved and fought and swore and most of all known real happiness and now so near the end just sat with a warm glow across my face and a glint in my eye and watched with indifference as death approached.

what are you thinking about michael?

as he mentioned my name i realised i had not been listening to him, that it was now dark.

i was wishing, dad.

it had been six months since the last time he remembered me, the longest he had been like that so far.

what were you wishing.

i had butterflies now, or thats as close as i can describe it. what is it called when you have a mix of dread and excitement and a bunch of other things that not even he sitting across from me, with the many lines arcing from the corner of his eyes could describe half adequately.

i was wishing i was you.

each sentence fluttered like a candle in a draft, that by the time it was finished he may have already forgotten who i was.

really …why? he sat upright now, leaning forward eyes gleaming.

i’m not sure, i was listening to your memories of mum, it seems to be all you remember, you were happy.

oh son. the words spoken so softly were almost a sigh followed by another.

your so young, you have so much more living to do but you will be me soon enough. it passes all too quick. this life here is all you will ever know so as far as your concerned its forever, your own personal forever. how are you going to spend forever son?

these words were important, i realised as soon as he said them. knew i had to cherish them, hold on to them. i watched them leave his mouth, echoing then echoing again, growing quieter, then at times becoming loud. i watched then come towards me as if from out of a long dark tunnel, and as they grew near i repeated them back.

this is my own personal forever..

what did you say dad?

i was brought back out of my head. the sun shone in the window and some kids were kicking a ball outside. i turned from them to look at the speaker, a boy, or a man i guess, in his twenties. was he speaking to me? i wasn’t sure so ignored him.

the sun was nice so i lay back deeper into the chair and closed my eyes. what was i thinking about? stupid question really, what did i always think about.

it was the last time i had spoke to dad before he died.

what had he said that day…

own personal forever

Michael Douglass

Alexandria, Australia

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