“My eyes are lonely,” the old man said,
“They have no one to wink at.”
I looked at him and his wrinkled face held more beauty than my own.
His hand was cold, his lips were dry
He didn’t shed a tear.
The stories he told the children who once revered him as hero
are now laughed at by the same children, who think they have grown up.
“Smile lass, for me, one more time. The tide is going out.”
Reassuringly, I squeezed his hand,
though I was not sure I’d be able to do it…
But somehow I managed one smile;
My last one for the day.
It was shaky and watery, but still a smile.
He smiled back and closed his eyes.
I sat and listened to his rasping breath,
feeling futile, so very helpless.
Just watching and waiting for the sad, but natural, inevitable.
All, the sudden, his still-bright eyes were open,
looking into mine.
“Having you here is all I need, lass.”
He said, simply and then slowly closed his eyes.
(How had he always understood me so well?)
A few more raspy breaths…
For an hour more, I held his hand
Not wanting to let him go
Just gazing, for the last time, upon his wrinkled face,
Wistfully imagining he looked content.
Already I missed the funny, gruff way he had of expressing his emotions…
And I thought about how much he meant to me –
The old man, who was no relation,
but was more near to me than any flesh and blood could ever be.