Chapter 15---Reflections
12:50 AM | Author: Jeff
The cough kept getting worse. Within three weeks the cough had gotten really bad, a deep hoarse cough that seemed to choke him, Pops would often cough for minutes at a time until his pale face turned red, his body hunched over, hands gripping the arms of the recliner, his knuckles turning white under the strain. When the cough let him go, Pops would fall back into the chair wheezing , desperately trying to suck air back into his body, his eye’s bloodshot from the strain, sweat soaking his through his shirt. Since the day Jay had first laid eyes on Henry Sutherland he had seemed to be the biggest man in the world, but now he looked so small and that scared Jay a lot.
The doctor had diagnosed pops condition as lung cancer, inoperateble and terminal. Jays world was falling apart around him, Pop’s had brought him to life, made him safe, and shown Jay love, and now he was dying, and all Jay could do was watch.
Pops refused to lay in a hospital bed and wait to die, he had been a Marine and seen war, he had watch his friends die in hospital beds and he had decided he would never go that way, in pain surrounded by death and suffering, but more potent was the memory of watching his wife die, her skin yellowed by the chemicals that were pumped into her body to kill of the cancer, chemicals that at the same time were killing her. Her hair fell out, her dignity robbed. Henry Sutherland would not meet his end like that. At the urging of Doc Brown Jay hired a nurse to care for Pops while he was at school, Pops had protested at first, but Jay was steadfast, but at night Jay was alone, Pop’s screams were unbearable, his cough would wake him up and the pain would kick in, for a while the morphine tablets the doctor gave him worked, but that was only for a while. Pops would wail in bed, screaming for his wife who had passed thirteen years before, he sometimes called for Jays mother, Marie-Ann, he was delirious, sometimes he would shout out battle orders which would always end in coughing fits and blood. One night Jay woke up and it was silent, his initial thought was that pops had died, his heart began pounding in his chest, bile rose in his throat, he was torn, the idea of losing Pops scared Jay to his very soul, but seeing him in pain was more than he could bear, Jay wanted desperately for the pain to stop. Jay went into Pops room, but he wasn’t there, his pillow covered in blood, panic set in, Jay frantically began to search the house until he found Pops sitting in the kitchen holding a small picture frame, he looked like his old self again, though he had lost so much weight, Pops saw Jay enter the room and he looked up and smiled,
“Your mother was a beautiful little girl, so sweet, she was my angel” he was smiling, some blood smeared across his lips. Slowly Jay sat down across from him; he could see the tears in his grandfather’s eyes.
“I lost them both, I couldn’t see through my own arrogance, your mother needed me and I ignored her. A few months later she ran away from home. I was too damn busy for both of them.” He gave me the picture; Jay couldn’t see his mother in this girls face.
“She was fourteen when that was taken, she left home when she was sixteen” he wiped the blood from his lips with a tissue. “I looked for her for ten years, and when I found her, I found you.” Pop’s looked into Jays eyes and smiled.
“Pop’s you shouldn’t talk, you should be in bed, resting” Jay was doing everything he could not to cry.
“Rest isn’t going to heal me my boy, I lost Mary-Ann forever, but she gave me you, and I am proud of the man you’ve become.” Tears began to fall from Jays eyes
“Pops” He began but the words coked him and wouldn’t come out.
“Jay, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, I chose the Marines over my wife, and I abandoned my daughter.” Pops stared deep into Jay’s eyes, as if hoping to find his absolution there, Jays eyes were filling with tears, tears that lifted the darkness from Henry Sutherlands mind, for they were tears born of love.
“Pops, you are the best thing that ever happened to me...” Jay began but Pops cut him off.
“You’ve given me more than I ever gave to you, I love you my boy, you’re a good man and I know I can leave this world now and I won’t have to worry about you, that’s my peace.” Pops stared at Jay, his eyes welling with tears, his face so gaunt. “You’re a better man than I ever was my boy”
“Pops, don’t talk like this, you’re going to get better.” Jay protested.
“I wish that were true, I wish I could be there to watch you graduate, college, see you marry, play with my great grand kids.” Tears began to choke Pops voice, “but I know that you’ll be doing it, and when you think of me, know I’ll be there watching you, with pride.” Slowly Pop’s stood up his body so thin and yet so weak “you keep that picture, I hope you can remember your mum like that, she was such a sweet girl, the world just wasn’t fair to her” he wiped the blood from his lips again and walked to the bedroom.
Jay sat there at the kitchen table for hours, staring at the picture of a beautiful young girl, trying to see his mother in the girls face.
That night Pops died, once again Jay was alone.
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On March 18, 2008 at 8:08 AM , Vivian Jean said...

You've got an interesting and compelling story going here. My initial reaction (and please understand that this is coming from the perspective of someone who's spent an inordinate amount of time grading undergraduate and graduate papers for grammar and punctuation) is that you could make it a lot more readable with a bit of editing. Again, I think that the ideas and development of your story have great potential, so don't misunderstand!

Think about trying to use fewer passive constructions ("Pop's [sic] HAD brought him to life...he HAD BEEN a marine...HAD WATCH [sic] his friends die..."). Try choosing active verbs that will allow you to avoid overuse of the various forms of "to be" (is, was, had/has been, etc.)

For example: "Pops brought him to life, made him safe, showed him love, and now as he neared death, Jay watched with a feeling of helplessness. Pops refused to lay in a hospital bed and simply wait to die; he experienced war as a marine and watched many of his friends die in those sterile, lonely places of suffering and death and he vowed never to go that way. He refused to end his life that way, constantly reminded of the way his wife died...etc"

Obviously, my suggestion is just that--a suggestion. More to the point: it is only one of many potential solutions. Active construction can keep readers compelled, and it also helps to provide some variety by avoiding reusing the same verbs over and over.

Happy writing!

On March 22, 2008 at 8:54 AM , tigress said...

Nice story. I've got to agree with the comment above though I didn't really notice it until she mentioned it. But her suggestion is the same thing I have problems with adn why I've never finished anything because I know after I've written it I have to go back through and edit it for a smooth flow.

Keep writing!

On March 22, 2008 at 9:14 AM , J A Glinton said...

Hi Adam, I enjoyed reading ALL of your posts, and will be coming back for more. I was sorry to read of old Mr Sutherland's passing - what a shame. However, I must say it felt like I was reading a work by two or more people (!) at times because the quality and length of the posts varied quite a bit in places. But as novel-blogs go, yours is one of the best ones I've seen. Keep up the good work! J A Glinton (


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