I am sitting here going over the scene again and again - this is something I have done so often over the years. A great number of years in fact - I can still feel the velvet darkness of a steamy summer night ~ still see the diamond studded sky and feel a gentle breeze blowing as I sit and ponder. It felt that time stood still in the beauty of the night, but it didn't. It felt that this moment would last forever, but it didn't. Things changed and time moved on like the gentle ticking of a clock.

The air was warm and perfume filled and as each second turned to minutes and the minutes turned to hours and still I sat reflecting on the times of long ago and far away.

The time slipped gently by and suddenly it was a new day after the Town Hall Clock had struck midnight - how I love the velvet cloak of night and the damp in the air!

I remember that night and as I pour another drink I feel a little sleepy, knowing I should go to bed and rest, but also knowing that sleep will not be my companion. The memories of that night are etched in my heart forever.

The days had been so busy and I had arranged to visit him the next day but that wasn't to be. I had worked long hours and had settled into bed and drifted off to sleep when the shrill noise of the telephone woke me to a world of reality and pain. Everyone knows that a phone call at that hour of the night is not good news and this was news I had dreaded and yet knew that I would have to face. He had been a little out of sorts and our times together had been different. By different I mean that there was an honesty, a trust and a sharing of very intimate feelings.

This man - My Father and I shared so many things - a love of poetry, debating and discussing and they were the things we did. He seemed to have lost interest in those things and I thought it would soon pass. I was wrong. He knew that his time was limited here and he must have felt reflective and also felt the need to be honest and leave politics alone.

When I answered the phone - the voice I heard and the words that were spoken just confirmed what I already knew that time would be forever changed and that life would be different for me, every midnight would be a reminder that he was no longer here. He was a sailor and loved the sea and on a summer night he lifted the anchor chain and sailed for the distant shore. I will always remember that my life would never be the same.

So as I sit and reflect on the passing of the hours, days, months and years I remember that life is so fragile and that we all should be sure to say the things we have in our hearts. I recall that life is transient and the watch we wear each day can serve as a reminder of the fact that all we have is now.

I am contemplative as I think of his last words to me - "Drive carefully Girlie - ring me when you are home and inside safe."

The velvet sky wraps itself around me and I recall that this was all long ago and far away.

Linda J. Vaughan