not my day

Hey, Red Dress Clubbers (and anyone else wandering in)…it’s me, Katie from Sluiter Nation.  This is my other blog where I write about stuff that I feel just doesn’t vibe with what Sluiter Nation is about–my immediate family and our joys/struggles.

This week’s post felt like it fit here rather than at Sluiter Nation. It is nonfiction about my father-in-law.

I hope you enjoy.

When we arrived he was sitting under his favorite tree as always.

Also as always, there were people around him.  He was never alone in those last days.

But I remember him alone.  I remember people too, but they were a blurred crowd around him.  People without faces.  Always there.

He would sit under that tree in his bag chair; his painfully thin, white, hairless legs crossed at the ankle, and both slender arms stationed on the arm rests.  He almost looked like he was part of the chair, but apart.

None of his clothes fit, but hung loosely from his gaunt frame.

His face, once chubby and exuberant, looked almost hollow and cavernous, with two bright blue eyes shining out from the depths–seemingly just for whomever he was currently speaking to.  Drinking you in…remembering you.

Where once he grew thick, tight afro-like curls, now sprouted only peach fuzz on his almost transparent skin of his skull.  Not that you could see it anyway; he almost always wore a hat.

And while he sat, people would surround him and chat about meaninglessness, and he would look out beyond the boats, past the fueling dock, and out over the lake.

Every now and then he would catch a small joke or hearsay of gossip and chime in with one of his classic one-liners, but most of the time he was quiet…listening to the world he was still a part of for a bit longer.

In my mind, there was a sailboat race that day that we visited.  I can vaguely recall comments about the direction of the wind and the effect of the waves on the results of the regatta.

There was also talk of what had happened that morning.  An accident.

By the time we arrived to pick up the latest news, the search had been going on for most of the day for the helmsman of the small vessel that collided with the navigation marker.

No one held much hope for a positive end to the news.

However there was almost a sense of relief.  Relief that the shroud of death chose somewhere else to linger today.

There was a collective sigh as we stood around…all looking out beyond the boats, past the fuel dock, and out into the small lake where a man was missing.

Someone broke the silence and tried to break the mood by asking him how his day was.

He looked at us and smiled.  Then replied simply, “Today is good.  Today is not my day.  Today was someone else’s day.  But not mine.”

About ksluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no, that is a Journey song. Although I do live in a small town. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer. We have joys and we have struggles. Just like you.
This entry was posted in being an adult is really not that great, cancer, changes, he died, i can't handle death, life changes, missing a you and a me, nonfiction, not being part of the group, out of my control, Pops, Red Dress Club, Saying Goodbye, stuff that means stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to not my day

  1. How true. Do we not all think that? Inside our heads.
    Good job capturing that gaunt man. “listening to the world he was still part of…”

  2. Ericka Clay says:

    Oh those last couple of phrases grabbed me. I love that at the ending! Very nice job Katie.

  3. Jackie says:

    You’re a really good writer! Thank you for sharing your talent with us!

    I love how he spoke at the end. Seemed rather poignant.

  4. Carrie says:

    I love that ending. So simple, yet so deep.

  5. Brandon says:

    Wow, this is really sad. Obviously I do not know the story, but I feel for him. Good job, Katie.

  6. CDG says:

    The ending is particularly powerful, Katie.

    And I love the way you approached the prompt.

  7. tsonoda148 says:

    The older I get, the more I appreciate that last line. Katie, I really enjoyed this story. It was different and refreshing, with a combination of sad and happy.


  8. Kelly says:

    Really, really good. You captured the strength that still existed in a frail man…and the end was perfect.

  9. Love this. You painted such a clear picture that I swear, in those last lines of dialogue, I heard HIS voice. Distinct from the narrator voice I was imagining.

    So cool.

  10. varunner says:

    You write so clearly that I feel I am there too.

  11. Amy says:

    Great writing. I love the ending! A great statement from a man who doesn’t say much.

  12. Leighann says:

    This was so well written.
    Every detail perfect.

  13. Kimberly says:

    Whew….amazing girl. Love what you did with the prompt. Love

  14. Mrs. Jen B says:

    Wow, so powerful. Beautifully crafted. You leave me wanting to know more about this man and what path his life took to get him to where he is now.

  15. Natalie says:

    Beatiful, simple, perfect. I can see the him sitting under the tree…was he your grandfather?

  16. Kir says:

    that was so beautifully written, that last sentence filled my eyes with tears.
    and because you said it was nonfiction, I am now even more curious about the man who is dying,…but NOT TODAY.


  17. angela says:

    Very, very well written. I think it captures perfectly those moments near the end of a life where people find peace that they are leaving and still cherish and relish the time that remains.

    Also, it made me cry, because it reminded me of my own grandfather, frail, and sitting under his own favorite tree (although he preferred sitting in his swing.)

  18. Shell says:

    The ending gave me goosebumps!

  19. I too loved the last line, so honest, so brutal, so true.

  20. Mandyland says:

    I really liked the ending of this one. And this line: Relief that the shroud of death chose somewhere else to linger today.

    In one sentence, you could feel everyone’s sense of guilt and relief.

  21. Elaine says:

    Your description of him reminds me SO much of my parents’ best friend who passed away from cancer when I was 14 years old. It reminds me so much now that I am crying. I felt a sense of relief at the end. This is all so good but the ending is perfect.

  22. Tracie says:

    The ending is so strong.

    I remember when my grandfather was going through that stage. It was so hard to see him…less than himself.

  23. Ratz says:

    Nice ending Katie. I enjoyed the way you have used the words… like “relief that the shroud of death chose somewhere else to linger today..” lovely sentence and yet so haunting.

  24. Tonya says:

    I love the ending… so simple yet so complicated, just like life and getting older. Denial, acceptance, peace.

    I enjoyed reading this very much. Nice job!

  25. Ash says:

    His awareness of the coming moment catches my heart. Not today, but soon. It also makes me think of the sacrifices the dying make in order to help the loved-ones left behind. Chit-chat versus peace and quiet of the lake. Maybe not a sacrifice for him. Maybe because I have recently lost a dear friend, but I know this story will stay with me for a while.

  26. Grace says:

    the way you pull wonderful stories for each of the prompts astounds me. Awesome.

  27. Pingback: Write Away Cancer « Sluiter Nation

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