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Friday, 28 October 2011


By wisewebwoman of The Other Side of Sixty

He thought to have one last sail on her before winter crept up on the dock. He'd have to put her away immediately after. Haul her up to the boathouse and wipe her all down. That should take care of the rest of the day.

It was October chilly, nothing that his thick aran sweater wouldn't handle and he'd tug the old wool watchcap tight over his head. Alone. That was why he got up so early, so no one could see him rowing the wee dory out to the boat, his Sleveen, and want to tag along.

Now he was tying the dory on to the back of Sleveen so he could anchor just off the island of Colinet where his ancestors had settled back in the day. The island his grandparents had to leave in the Sixties when Newfoundland had the massive resettlement programme.

Poppy and Nan never got over it. They had their house towed by boat off the island and put it up again on the mainland. Facing the island that they loved so much for the rest of their days.

He remembered Poppy saying to Nan, every morning, "What's the weather like on Colinet today, Rose?"

And she'd look over at the distant island and always answer, "Right easy over there, John, right easy."

They were buried there, on their island, and he wanted to visit them. So he did. Rowed in the wee dory up onto the beach below the old graveyard, carefully walking around the wide gaping hole where the old wooden church had been. Taking his cap off, in respect when he stood in front of their gravestone, not praying exactly. But close.

He circled the bay a few times after, showing off a little, though he couldn't see anyone. It was still early, but you never knew who was looking out their windows.

He'd always loved the way the Sleveen handled herself. No matter the wind, its speed or its direction, she bent into it or danced in front of it, loving the lick of it, the slap of the water on her sides.

He should have felt sad. He'd anticipated it. Packed one of his old hankies in his back pocket just in case.

But he felt happy. The gulls shrieked overhead, the wind bit into his face as it puffed out the white sails against the blue sky above him, the ropes were easy on his hands. The Sleveen was riding right gentle today. As if she knew. And of course she did.


It would be the last time.

You might see Christmas, the surgeon said yesterday, as if he was handing him an early present.


What an enormous word.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I read through your story,WWW,and enjoyed it but,to tell you the truth, I didn't understand it.

So, I went to Wikipedia and found the whole story of the resettlement of Labrador and Newfoundland and ,of course, the story of Colinet Island.

Then I reread your story and it meant so much more to me when I really understood how John and Rose felt about resettling on the mainland.

It was a very touching story and I thank you for sharing it with us.

Wow! What a powerful story well written.

In my dim memory I recall seeing photos of a house being moved by boat to a safer land. Your story must be based in part on a true happening.

I hope he made it to see Christmas.

I could smell the sea! Great story.

The memory and recording of an event, is history. The painting of the event with heart, soul, emotion and a splash or wave of imagination, is what makes it STORY.

Thanks for letting me sail along today.

Powerful story. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for this moving story, beautifully crafted. Having lived near New York States' Ashokan Reservoir,one of several which involved moving and flooding whole towns in the Catskills to supply water for NYC residents, I have always been saddened by stories of displaced people and villages. Canadian towns, too, were relocated during the straightening of the St. Lawrence River--at least some of them were preserved as parts of history in Upper Canada Village.

Loved sailing along with you on your emotion laden memoir. THANK YOU

what a lovely story.

Your story was was from the heart. I can just imagine his love of the former home of his parents on the island, and the joy yet sadness to sail into the future and bid goodby to it all.

Well done! Funny how it is, events that get forgotten. I suppose down the road no one will even visit the grave any more. A couple of generations and all gets forgotten. Thank you for a well done piece.

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