The Boat House (1/28/11)

28 Jan

The Boat House
By Pamela Eberhardt

Patrick met his wife in New York city when they were in their twenties. He fell hard for her, and she him. The love was quick, yes… but very strong. They married and moved to Long Island shortly after the wedding. Patrick’s wife didn’t want to raise children in the city. The house was large and on a dead end street, which she exclaimed would be ” perfect for the children to learn to ride their bikes.” They were happy. They couldn’t wait to have children but promised one another that before they began trying  they would sail away on a romantic, beautiful vacation together and enjoy one another alone before the stork dropped off the next step in their life. Patrick began building a boat. A gigantic boat by the side of their house that they would sail away in. She’d bring him iced tea, sandwiches and the two would talk about the adventures they would have at sea. He would read her to sleep and wake up beside her, knowing how incredible this ritual would be every day for the rest of his life. The boat began to get so large that it was almost half the size of the main house. Patrick’s wife brought a radio out to the boat on the night it would be finished. Champagne in hand and soft music from the speakers, she beckoned him to dance with her.  As their wedding song sang through the radio, Patrick held his wife close and they swayed back and forth to the melodic memory. They made love on the boat that night and perhaps their first child. As dawn appeared, Patrick gazed at his sleeping wife and wondered how he got to be so lucky. She awoke shortly to the soft touch of his hands as he moved strands of hair from her face. She smiled at her husband and sighed as she prepared to leave their hideaway to complete her To-Do list. They stood before one another at the entrance of the boat and just stared into each others eyes for a moment. They knew, looking inside one another, what they had and it made their hearts skip a beat. Later that afternoon, while on her way back from the market, Patrick’s wife was struck by a car. She fought to survive for a week in the hospital but lost the battle and passed away. An incomprehensible sadness took over Patrick and eventually when he had the strength to move, he threw all his belongings into the boat and slept there day and night. Years later, children still drove their bikes by the boat, throwing rocks or stones onto it. Patrick heard it all from the decks below, but did nothing to stop it. He simply sang himself to sleep while looking at a photograph of his beloved departed. Several more years passed and Patrick had aged and still repeated his broken hearted, daily ritual. Every night at 9:30, a light would turn on in the boat, letting people in the neighborhood know that someone still lived on the property even though the main house had long since been boarded up. A week before Patrick died, at age 79, he wrote a poem and left it beside a picture of his late wife. It read:

My love, I left this house for us

All boarded up in life

A place to visit in our dreams

My angelic, perfect wife

For children running wild

Through the halls beyond these doors

And for the sick and for the mild

To heal forever more.

I left this house for them as well

To learn from what we know

It’s why I could never sell

Our humble abode

It’s missed your laugh, it’s missed your face

It’s missed your smile, your smell, your grace

And yes, I have missed these things

The song bird here, he never sings

Since you left the sky’s gone grey

The old aged bird, sees me, his prey

And waits as I grow old each day

I yell, “Go ahead! come what may!”

This is what I often say

As I waste the years away

Waiting to see you once more

Waiting to walk through the door

I see the bright light

It drags me there

To a heavenly sight

To that place where

You’ll be

waiting for me

And I’ll be

waiting too

in the house I left for you.

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