Last night my hubby was out of town so I poured a glass of wine, plopped myself in front of the tv and began watching some old home movies from the 1970’s that my mom recently found and that I just had converted from 8mm reels into DVD. In between footage of a 4 year old me dancing around like a Mouskateer, and my other sisters playing tennis or graduating, there on the screen, with no audio to accompany it, were shots of sailboats cruising the San Diego Bay.
At first I felt no connection to the images of sail boats, as I have no real recollection ever sailing with my family. But then a strong memory came flashing back.
A few days before my dad passed, he had slipped into a state of dementia that featured only fleeting moments of clarity. My sisters, my mom, my uncle John and I all took turns sitting in the room with him, waiting for one of those moments, or waiting for the end, whichever was to come first. I remember vividly, the Saturday before he died, sitting with him on the hospital bed in our dining room. He had been in and out of consciousness and every time he seemed alert I was hoping to hear something from him profound and/or lovey dovey. Well really I was hoping for anything at all.
At one point he began talking to me about sail boats, as if we were sailing along the harbor. And though there was a nice view of the bay from the room, he was clearly talking about imaginary boats and imaginary people. I just kind of nodded and agreed and talked to him the way I talk to my 1 year old now, pretending to understand every word he was saying. He mentioned names of people I had never heard of as if they were his best friends and his face lit up like a little boy opening a Red Ryder BB Gun on Xmas morning. He was on that boat; he could feel the breeze on his face and smell that salt in the air. He was carefree, painfree and happy, and for that, I was happy too.
At the time though I thought he was just hallucinating because I never knew him to be a big sailor (though he was a Retired Naval Captain Reserves). I didn’t recall every going sailing with him. A few years after he had passed away I learned that he had actually spent a lot of time sailing with friends and my sisters, before I was born and when I was young, just about the time those Super 8 films were taken.
The images of sailboats on the TV screen showed me just what my dad was talking about that last Saturday of his life. He wasn’t hallucinating, he was reflecting, remembering, going back to a special time in his life. To a time that he was painfree, carefree and happy.
This post was inspired by not only the viewing of the old home movies, but also a few other recent occurrences.
Yesterday I received my first rejection email from an agent regarding my book manuscript. I know in my rational mind that not many people get picked up by the first agent they submit to, but the “Thanks, but no thanks” email still got to me a little. It confirmed my fears that in this time of economic hardship, the book publishing industry is tightening up just like the rest of the world, and that maybe a book on death is not what people want to read.
But after having a minor pity party for myself, I remembered an email I received a few days ago from a woman I met via the Internet. She too is part of “the club” and was just curious as to how my book was progressing. One of her close friends just recently lost her dad and she was hoping to get a copy of my book for her friend.
In looking at the image above, of the city and water that my dad so loved, and in reading the email from another woman grieving the way I do, my sense of determination is renewed. So I’m now on my way to Staples to pick up 4 more copies of my manuscript to send out.
Let’s do this.