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The Goodbye Kiss

Updated on March 21, 2011

Father's Love Never Dies

At first it was a gentle clicking noise, barely noticable.  Then it got progressively louder.  The bed frame was metal, and the clicking noise sounded like metal on metal.  She woke up to hear the click.  It was as though someone was trying to get her attention.  She was just a little girl, only nine years old.  Visiting with her family at her grandmother's home.  She covered her head with her blanket and stopped breathing.  She was so scared she did not make a move.  She thought if she stopped breathing the sound would stop.  It did not.

In two or three minutes the clicking stopped and the bed shuddered as though someone had gripped the headboard and shook it hard.  Then it stopped.  The poor child was so scared she laid there, covered over her head, wide awake and afraid to breathe for the rest of the night.  

She told her mother, aunt, and grandmother about the noise she heard.  They told her it was probably the house settling.  It was a very old house, after all.  The room where the girl stayed was traditionally the attic, although it was on level with the bedrooms on the upper floor of the house.

The girl was scared but tired that night, and conceded when her mother told her to go to bed.  She slunk around the stairway, through the purple first bedroom, through the blue second bedroom, and into the metal bed.

The bed had a history of its own.  The original owner was unknown, but when this little girl graduated from crib to bed (more because her mother had another baby than actual maturity) she moved into a bedroom off the living room, into that bed.  She and her brother tied a red nylon scarf to the foot of the bed and it stayed there from then on out.  When several years later she went to bed she saw the nylon scarf and remembered that bed was hers when she was younger.  Her grandmother must have been in need of an additional bed.  Her children were returning from military service or hard lives to move back in with their mom.

As the girl crawled back into this bed she covered her body up tight around her neck with all her body covered, even her fingers.  She laid there for what seemed an eternity and finally dozed off.  There was no clicking noise this night.  In the middle of a dream she felt someone stroking her hair.  She did not know who would be doing that.  She pretended to still be asleep.  She felt fingers pulling gently on her hair as it was being stroked.  She was certain she would have heard her mother ascend the stairs and her brothers certainly would not be lovingly running their fingers through her hair.  She fell back asleep.  She was not afraid as she was when she heard the clicking the night before.  She felt safe and warm.

When the girl got up the next morning she did not say anything to her mother or grandmother.  It was an exciting day.  They were going to go to the local fabric store and purchase material to make her an Easter dress.  Her mother had completely forgotten that it was Easter weekend and did not bring a pretty dress for her to wear.  The boys wore clean pants and white shirts and she got a very pretty robin egg blue colored dress with a ribbon tie in the back, and matching ruffle socks.  She felt special, normally she was not the center of attention, that was reserved for her brothers.

Mother and grandmother doted over her the entire Saturday.  It was so much fun modeling and being measured and occasionally tickled by the tape measure or by her grandmother who was pretending to look away.  This was a special Easter weekend for the little girl.  After the dress was done her grandmother wrapped her freshly washed hair with rags.  She called them rag curls.  Grandmother told her that they would look like little springs in the morning when they dried.

That night she went to bed eagerly.  Her mother wondered why she was willing to go to bed so easily, but the little girl just explained that it was Easter tomorrow and she wanted to be awake for church.  She put on her night gown and crawled into bed.  Tonight she covered up over her chest but was brave enough to leave her arms out.  She curled up and fell asleep.  Seemingly like clockwork someone woke her up in the middle of the night again.  This time there was no noise and there was no touching.  Well, not as the night before.  This night she was gently kissed by cold whispery lips.  She thought she heard someone say, very faintly, "Good bye".  When she woke up she asked if her mother had come in to kiss her good night.  Her mother and grandmother both denied having gone up those steep and trecherous stairs.  The little girl reported she had been kissed by cold, soft lips and that someone told her 'good bye'.  

Her mother, aunt, and grandmother all looked at each other with knowing eyes.  They decided that their minor child was capable of understanding and being able to hear the words they would tell her.  The grandmother told her that the man who built the house had a little girl and that the room I was sleeping in was hers.  She had gotten very sick one winter and passed away on Easter weekend, a very long time ago.  She was in that room when she died.  Oddly the little girl did not feel afraid, but rather relieved.  She convinced herself that it was that other little girl's father kissing her and telling her good bye because he was not able to tell his own daughter.  She felt blessed.


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