Author: David Henson
After work, I stop by to check on my father and find him carrying a flashlight around the well-lit house.
“Is everything OK, Dad.”
“It’s your mother.”
“I miss her too, Dad.”
“No, Son. This is your mother.” He holds up the flashlight.
His answer jolts me. “Dad, you don’t believe that’s Mom, do you?”
“Not the torch, Son, the light. Look, don’t you see her?” I squint as he aims the beam at my eyes.
Speechless, I suggest we take a walk, hope the cool evening will clear his mind.
As we make our way around the neighborhood, I can hardly edge in a word as Dad jabbers to the spot jiggling jauntily beside him. It’s an older area where tree roots have heaved the concrete, so when gathering darkness fills in the dappling of shadows on the sidewalk, Dad asks Mom to lead the way and aims the flashlight ahead of us.
As we head for home, Dad’s conversation with Mom becomes animated. “The night air makes me feel spry again, Dear. How about you?” He cocks his head, says “Sounds good to me,” and picks up the pace.
Back at the house, I go to the kitchen for a drink of water. When I return to the living room, Dad is in the recliner, his pants undone, flashlight between his legs. I gasp and clamp my hand over my eyes until I hear his zipper.
“Sorry, Son. In my defense, it was your mother’s idea.”
Over the next week or so, I try to reason with Dad, but the light of Mom blinds him to logic. I think about sneaking out the batteries, but that seems cruel. I decide to go softly, confident Dad will come to his senses. In the meantime, he isn’t hurting anyone. He’s keeping the house tidy. His hygiene seems OK.
One evening, I get to my father’s place after nightfall. When I discover the house empty, I’m concerned till I hear murmuring and find Dad on the patio, the flashlight shining into the sky.
“Your mother said it was time to let go.” He slides the switch. Mom disappears. I feel a chill.
I stare up at the Milky Way and imagine Mom. After a few moments, a shooting star streaks overhead. When I turn to ask Dad if he saw it, he isn’t there.