Photo credit: KL Caley
“Oh Papa, what am I going to do? The lighthouse is still there on its island but my job as its keeper is gone – my perfect job.”
“Here, give us a hug sweetheart. It saddens me too. Your mother, God rest her soul, and I go back to the wickie days before electricity at the lighthouse changed everything. We were so young and had the island to ourselves, keeping the oil lamp wicks trimmed and light bright. We built our lives around that old lighthouse.”
“And I only got three years. I miss it already; the solitude, the quiet even the storms. When I walked on high-surf days, I swear I could feel the waves on the western shore from the eastern side, like a heartbeat of the island.”
“Well, let’s keep moving child. We’re going to want lunch soon.
“I’ve known for years that today was coming. Lighthouses around the globe are automating and retiring their staff. Very few are manned anymore. Even with your experience, you could travel the globe and not find another keeper job. We’re as obsolete as buggy whips, but come along, I have a surprise for you. Take a final look, say goodbye and be thankful for the time you worked there.
“Tomorrow it won’t be your employment. It will just be a lighthouse on a small island with some great memories where you did a great job while it was needed. Tomorrow it will just be a pretty part of the view from your living room.”
“Wait. . . What? Papa, our apartment above Mattery’s Bakery– we can’t see the island from there.”
“No, you can’t live there. Your old room is too small for a woman your age. You hate being in town, people everywhere, constant traffic noise. You need quiet and solitude with the ability to go out to see people at church or shopping or dance club — whatever, but then being able to return to a quiet place without neighbors to disturb you. You need your books, a view of the ocean, a small garden, maybe some goats or chickens and time to think about what you want to do next. Maybe there’s an author or editor beneath your wind breaker. You need time to ask and answer such questions.”
“What are you talking about? That’s all true but . . .”
“Will you just keep up please. Remember — lunchtime? Come along and stop stopping.”
“Fine. I’m coming, but I don’t understand how . . .”
“Your uncle Frank.”
“Uncle Frank? What’s …? He died over a year ago. What does he have to do with where I’ll live?”
“He left his affairs in a mess and I’ve been working with a lawyer to settle things out. It was just he and I as brothers and he never married or had kids so his cabin south of town passed down to me. As of two weeks ago, I own it, but I like my life above the bakery. My friends are there. I’m comfortable.
“Ah, here we are. Look, from here you can see his cabin across the field. We didn’t go there often when you were growing up, but this path is an easy walk from the cabin to town. Further inland, Mill Road goes right past his driveway. Oh look, your old Toyota is already there, parked right in front. Before I picked you up at the boat dock, I stopped by and left lunch for us.
“I’ve done a basic clean-up, but it needs a lot of attention. My offer is: you can move in, live rent-free for taking care of our family cabin and figure out your next career in peace and quiet. Do we have a deal?”
“Oh Papa – yes. Yes! I barely recall ever being there, but this sounds perfect.”
“Good. You also might want to find someone to spend the rest of your life with. I’m not going to be around forever and I’m not above sending around attractive service contractors to paint or fix plumbing to expose you to actual living men.
“There’s also a small shop behind . . . . Why are you looking at me like that?”