His Sunset

You’ll never forget that phone call. The one you knew logically would someday come but could never have expected. You’ll never forget that politely ill-fitting greeting you gave to the officer on the phone that preceded the awful news he bore. You’ll never forget the oft described but only truly realized by experience gut punch of loss, and sudden realization of unprepared duty.


He would have been 60 this week, my Dad. Somehow, he’d known he might not make it that long. For the handful of years since we’d reconnected, he’d been fully prepared for an end I naively assumed unlikely. He never complained of health, seemed strong as an oak despite the drink. Yet, he somewhat morbidly always circled back to that topic of whether or not I was prepared to do my successor duty, could I be there “if he went down?” Of course I would be. I’d just assumed I’d had more time.


No one was prepared for that phone call.


My Dad was found in his pool, however not dressed as though he’d been swimming. A dedicated man who uncharacteristically didn’t show for work that morning triggered the search for him. The mystery of how he passed there haunted the family for months. We could only assume, more to assuage our sorrow than anything, that something medical had occurred to him, and the pool was an incidental afterthought. Later analysis revealed otherwise- that his blood alcohol level turned that pool into a fatal hazard. He’d somehow known, he’d planned and prepared. But not like that.


It’s a road trip you never wanted to take. We drove for five hours in the last half of the day after making rushed arrangements, tossing what was clean and what was not in to a suitcase. The sunset out the driver’s side window, dropping through the LA area haze to hide behind the coastal range seemed less vibrant that night. The console was strewn with the crumpled-up burrito wrappers of a quick, on-the-road dinner. Yet, the tone was not somber or sorrowful. He’d raised me to be like the stout oak, too.


I now had a painful job to do, as the successor of his estate. A job I never imagined would be so tough. Yet, in a kick you headlong into the toughest parts of being an adult kind of way, positively life changing. It’s a job I’m still performing today.


You’re never prepared for it, and you’ll never forget it.


Today’s Prompt: Road Trip, Sunset, Wrappers

This is a pretty heavy post, and it’s a true story. I realize that it isn’t all that well written, and the end sort of fizzles out. But I suppose that happens when things get that heavy- when you’re more emotionally releasing rather than writing for a purpose. It was odd though, how the thought of what would have been my Dad’s 60th birthday this week aligned with prompts that fit so well into the day we’d learned he’d died. Strange, but I couldn’t not write about it.

Thanks for reading


For the full list of prompts and to join in on the 30 Day Restart Challenge, visit the prompt page here!

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Jean Thomas

storyteller, reader, creative

John Mastro

Aspiring Author

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