I spent every childhood summer at my grandmother’s house, the house my father grew up in. It’s a small, but charming house which sits just across the banks of Lake Oneida, or as my family and I affectionately call it, “Grandma’s Lake” in Bridgeport, New York. Every year we would travel from wherever we were living at the time up to this family home to enjoy a family reunion and Independence Day.
As a child, this summer tradition was one full of excitement and exploration. The time was filled with fireworks, bonfires, swimming, boating, fishing, and my absolute favorite – catching fireflies on the grassy bank of the lake.
It was a magical and fantastic place full of mystery and intrigue.
It had been 27 years since I had stepped inside this family home. It took me that long to make it back to this special place, but it was exactly the perfect Godly time in which I was meant to be there. July 4, 2014 is forever imprinted in my memory and engraved on my heart.
There was no way for me to know it would be the last holiday I would spend with my dad.
There was no way to know that the last face-to-face conversation I would have with him would be on that very date.
We sat across from each other at a small table, covered in a vinyl tablecloth, just he and I. We discussed our favorite mutual authors, Douglas Adams and Stephen King, quoted “Hamlet” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. We shared our passion for writing and the genres we were working in. He gave me his latest short story, “Chicken Little: The Truth Revealed” to read and provide honest feedback.
I headed home after the trip with the absolute conviction this was indeed the best conversation we had ever had. I treasured it from the moment it happened. It was just he and I, sharing our love for the written word.
Almost exactly a year later, he would be gone.
That conversation, that moment, echoes in my soul forever.
I am grateful to have in my possession the very story he shared with me that day. What a blessing it is to work on something which meant so much to him. As always, my prayer is to do his work justice and to use what I learned in that conversation to write as he would write.
As I sit at my kitchen table, thousands of miles away from that magical place, I can feel his very presence sitting in the empty chair across from me.
And I begin to write . . . “Let us begin by righting a terrible wrong and clearing the name of a true hero. You will soon learn — being Chicken is a good thing.”