"Is that the little girl I carried?
Is that the little boy at play?"
He stopped the cassette, pulled it out of the player, and put it table of the R.V.. Bee will like that one, she sang it with the "Sweet Adeline's". Lots of good songs on that tape. Why hadn't he labeled the songs on each tape? The time to sweat the small stuff had passed, and as he always had said; "It's all small stuff." He placed the cassette on the table with the others, and reached in the box for the next one.The doctors had given him the news, and he wasn't surprised. He had a little time left, and just two more things on the list. He was nearly done.
He set the video camera up, focused in on the mirror, and started the projector. After a few test runs, he was ready. He put in the tape, and hit play. The camera would record the old movies, and the music would provide the soundtrack.
"Wasn't it yesterday,
when they were small?"
Al those years started going by, the house in Pittsburgh, the old Woodie with no heat. The house in Reading, the oak out front, snow, Christmas, summers in Maine. The camera was moving a lot in the beginning, but he got better as the years moved on. There were a lot of moments out of focus, he remembered crying as he filmed. The smiling faces waved to the camera, even during the tough times. The boys in uniform, leaving home, his little girl at her first communion. He thought of the two children that weren't in the movies, the still born boy, and Chris's twin, Timothy. The projector clicked away, and the heated smell of dust and film, blew out of it's vents.
"What words of wisdom can I give them,
How can I help to ease their way?"
The time line jumped all over, Apollo launches, family reunions in St. Mary's. His brothers, sisters and their kids. The golden summers, the camp fires, the sound of his sons playing guitars, and everyone singing along. There had been so many things he wanted to do, so many places he read about, and wanted to visit. He had done the best he could, and God knows that wasn't easy. Seven children, all the pains and joys of watching them grow and struggle. It really never ends when you are a parent. Losing his job at 49, and moving to Florida, to save Chris's lungs from the winters. It was never easy, but it was a good life.
"One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears."
When these movies were done he would get Bee, and the rig, out to Vegas. She would be with her daughter. Then his work would be done. He wasn't afraid, he was just tired. Two more things on the list, and then he could rest. The images flashed in front of his glasses. He cleaned them with a paper towel, and wiped his eyes and nose. The children grew, there were four, then two. The last of the footage was Bee and him alone. The old house in St. Mary's, Harper's Ferry, San Francisco and Bee walking through the stables in Kentucky. She loved the horses.
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze..."
The movies were done, a handful of video cassettes, it had seemed like a lot more than that. It's funny how a life can be condensed. A few video tapes, a paragraph in some newspaper, some photos in a book. All those memories. He looked out the window at the water, in Panacea, it was nice here. He hated to leave, but he had to get going. Like always, he had things to do, and time was the enemy. One more trip, and then he would be done. He looked at the labels on the tapes, all those moments, in little yellow boxes. He put them all in a box, and taped it shut. He had done the best he could.
"Swiftly fly the years,
Laden with happiness and tears,
I miss you Dad.