Enter content here

Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing ContestOfficial RulesPrize$Enter Now!Entry FormDare to Dream (D2D)Poetry PlaceWrite This Way!ClassifiedsFamous QuotationsLinks to the WorldFAQ's - Contact UsFree Stuff

Enter content here

Dream Quest One First Writing Prize
Winner - Winter 2014 - 2015
of Matthews, North Carolina - USA

"Memories of the Lighthouse Keeper"


By Jill Weatherholt



"Dad, did you take your medication this morning?" I massaged my temples, willing the coffee maker to hurry.


The familiar sound of my dad's slippers as he shuffled across the kitchen floor warmed my heart.  He took a seat at the table and rubbed his chin. "I don't remember, Katie. Can you count the pills for me?"


Riley scratched her temple. "Grandpa, how can you not remember taking medicine? I always know when I've taken my medicine, it's so yucky."


I glanced at the coffee maker.  "Riley, eat your pancakes before they get cold."



I poured the pills onto the counter, took in a deep breath and began the daily ritual of counting pills. Just as I thought, he hadn't taken his daily dose. I made a mental note to pick up a pillbox from the drug store.


"Okay mommy, but I need more pancake syrup."



It was going to be one of those days. Riley had always been a handful, but after mom died and dad couldn't live on his own any longer, life had become more difficult. Six months ago, I moved him into our house and each day was more of a challenge than the previous day.


Yesterday, Mrs. McCallister, who lives three beach houses up the road, found him wandering in her garden. He was picking her strawberries and when she questioned him, he told her his wife was getting ready to make homemade preserves. She tried to explain it was her garden, but he became argumentative with her, so she called me. He denied picking her strawberries even though his pockets were full and his mouth stained with red nectar.


Page 2 -

"Katie, don't forget to pack my dinner for tonight. I have to leave early, there's heavy fog in the forecast."


"Where are you going grandpa?"



He tapped his fingers on the oak table.  "To work, of course, we wouldn't want any ships to crash into the rocks now would we, Riley?"


"Mommy?" she faced me. "What is grandpa talking about?"



My dad ran the traffic signal for the sea. He was the lighthouse keeper, a dedicated civil servant. His job, to make sure the light shone every night from sunset to sunrise. During inclement weather, he sounded the foghorn to guide the ships. For 45 years, he had a mistress who my mother knew, the ocean, but that was a long time ago.


"Grandpa, you don't work anymore."



Dad's behavior confused Riley. I tried to explain to her grandpa was getting old, but it's difficult for a five year old to understand the abyss of the disease that has taken over my dad's mind.


"Riley, put your plate in the sink and run upstairs and get dressed."



She sprung out of her chair and skipped to the sink, each ponytail swung in opposite directions. "Is grandpa going into town with us?"


Dad sighed as he washed down his pills with his black coffee. "Riley, I told you, I have to go to work." His face reddened. "Katie, don't forget to pack my dinner."


Riley looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. She turned on her heel and scurried up the maple staircase.


Page 3 -


I poured myself a cup of strong black coffee and took a seat at the table. "Dad, you don't work anymore, you retired 18 years ago." I touched my mother's cross necklace that hung around my neck since she passed away a year ago.


He glanced down at his gold watch and pushed his shoulders back. "Of course I retired. Where do you think I got this gold watch? I served longer than any lighthouse keeper in the state of Maine."


I smiled and gently ran my fingers down the side of the watch. "I know you did and we are so proud of you."


"Wasn't that the best pork tenderloin you ever tasted?" He licked his lips and rubbed his palms on the top of his pajama bottoms. "And that German Chocolate Cake, I never told your mom, but it was better than her recipe."


This was now dad's reality. He could remember the meal served at his retirement dinner, so many years ago, but he couldn't remember if he had taken his medication in the morning or which direction was the ocean.


"It was a delicious meal, dad." I smiled, as I remembered, it was the extra coconut, in the icing that made the cake melt in my mouth. Mom used extra coconut in her icing.


He ran his hand through his sparse grey hair. "Maybe we should ask your mother to cook pork tenderloin for Sunday dinner."


It broke my heart that dad couldn't remember mom had passed.  I rubbed my hand up and down his back. "Why don't you go and get dressed dad, we'll be heading into town soon."


Dad emptied his coffee cup into the sink. "Okay, Katie."  As he headed to his bedroom, off the kitchen, thoughts of being late for work had escaped his mind.


The trip into town had been exhausting. Riley begged to go into every store we passed and dad kept saying he needed a new suit for his retirement party.  Finally, with dad in his

Page 4 -

bedroom reading and Riley working a puzzle at the kitchen table, I was able to have a few minutes alone on the porch.


Snuggled in my favorite rocking chair, under the afghan my grandmother crocheted for my first communion, I let the sweet sounds of summer ease the stress of the day. The sound of the ocean always had a calming effect and tonight, it was just what the doctor had ordered as I felt my limbs go limp.


The patter of tiny feet brought me back to reality. I opened my eyes to find Riley dressed in her favorite Winnie the Pooh pajamas.  She bit down on her lower lip. "Mommy, how come grandpa forgets stuff? Yesterday he called me Gracie...that was grandma's name."


I lifted Riley onto my lap and pulled her to my chest. Her hair smelled of baby shampoo and I wished I could hold her like this forever. "Sweetie, your grandfather is sick."


She nuzzled further under the afghan as though she planned to stay there for the night, which was fine by me. She let out a loud sigh. "He doesn't act sick, he just forgets."


I wasn't quite sure how to explain the disease to Riley, as even the medical profession don't have all of the answers. "You know how you feel when I wake you up to go to school?"


"Yeah, I'm sleepy and I can't think."



I nodded and a stray tear slipped through my eyelash and down my cheek. "Exactly, sweetie, that's how grandpa feels, most of the time. His brain is tired."


Riley raised her head of wild blonde curls and wiped the tear from my cheek. "I wish grandpa was like he used to be."


She laid her head against my chest. Within moments she drifted to sleep and into a world where her grandpa always remembered her name.


Page 5 -


Early the next day, the sun filtered through the plantation shutters highlighting the dust

on the coffee table. With Riley and dad in the garden picking Roman tomatoes, now was as good a time as any to tackle my most dreaded household task, dusting.


I worked my way around the downstairs and into dad's room. His bed neatly made, as usual, and his slippers tucked under his rocking chair. I scanned the room and the furniture didn't have one speck of dust.


On his writing desk, I noticed a leather-bound journal. It was open, his reading glasses and a Montblanc pen placed on top. I rubbed my hands down the front of my jeans. I knew it was wrong, but I picked up the journal and sat down on the Kennedy rocking chair.


As I studied the pages, I couldn't believe what I was reading. Over the past year, dad recorded events from his life. Each entry was its own story. The first time he met my mother and their first date. He recalled vivid details of the day I was born and the day Riley, his only grandchild, was born. I paused and swallowed hard. There it was his words etched on the page.

He described in beautiful detail, the day my mother peacefully passed away. He had remembered, but in his own time and his own way. Between the leather cover was my dad's life written so he would never forget the times of his life.


I placed the journal on the desk, along with the pen and glasses. A tear rolled down my cheek and then a smile took over. At that moment, I knew whatever the future holds for us, the journal will provide all the strength we will need.


#   #   #


About the author: Like many writers, Jill Weatherholt live a double life. By day, she works for the City of Charlotte, assigned to the District Attorney’s Office. On the weekends, she writes modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness.

Raised in Washington, DC area, she holds a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and Paralegal Studies Certification from Duke University. She is a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest, a top ten finalist in 2012 & 2013. Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest, as well as a 2014 Second Place Winner. She connects with other writers at http://www.jillweatherholt.wordpress.com .


Enter content here

Enter supporting content here