Following Seas

22 Jan

I’ve been helping a friend drain a swamp and feel the need to apologize for being behind the curve last week in reading and commenting. Going to fix that now as the swamp is drained and the alligators are all suitcases now.

Mahalo and Aloha, D.


100 words for Friday Fictioneers inspired by the photo below from Georgia Koch.


boatpilxr_ antiqued

(Copyright Georgia Koch)


“I could call the Coast Guard.”

“And tell them what? An old man is going rowing?”

He wondered whether he’d made a mistake in sharing his plans. After half a lifetime spent at sea, this last voyage seemed only natural.

“I won’t have you watch me die a slow death in one of those homes, son.”

“It wouldn’t be like that…”

“It’s always like that. They just don’t put it in the brochure because it’s bad for business.”

Ebb tide. The sea beckoned. Time to go.

“I love you, son.”

“Fair winds, Dad.”

81 Responses to “Following Seas”

  1. rochellewisoff January 22, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    I love the way you used the blessing “Fair winds and following seas” to bring your story full circle. The unconditional love that father and son have for each other is touching. It’s not always about hanging on, is it? Beautifully written.Poignant and poetic.



    • rochellewisoff January 22, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

      PS I hope those suitcases are liquid tight.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Dear Rochelle,

      Almost forgot you. What would I do without your elbow in my ribs?

      Thanks for reading and commenting so kindly. You prime the pump beautifully and I appreciate it. Not often easy to herd cats but you help.

      If I had two bollards at my berth I’d let you tie your hawsers to one of them.



  2. Deborah the Closet Monster January 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Aaaaah. I want to read so many more words here, even understanding it is perfect exactly as is.

    • dmmacilroy January 22, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

      Dear Deborah,

      Every now and then, out of the blue, you show up to read and comment on one of my tiny stories. I appreciate it very much and want you to know that you are a special person for it. Thank you.



  3. Honie Briggs January 22, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    It seems all I can say about your stories lately is that I love them. I’m sorry I can’t come up with more, but when I say I love something, I truly do. I don’t give crit, ever, I’m not qualified. So, it’s “love” or “silent awe” – take your pick.

    • dmmacilroy January 22, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

      Dear Honie,

      Thank you. It is very much enough just to know that you read a story of mine and enjoyed it. I do appreciate you taking the time to read and tell me what went through your mind as you did. It is a gift I’ll never take for granted.



  4. elmowrites January 22, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    Your story and Sandra’s go well together, but at the same time both have different stories to tell. Love the line about an old man going rowing. Also like the sense of controlling one’s own destiny. I’ve always said, suicide is not for the weak, but the strong.

    • dmmacilroy January 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

      Dearest Jennifer,

      You are right about the strength required and the resolve demanded in order to finish life in a manner and time of your own choosing. I was late to the party this week and was daunted by the number of tales about Charon and such, but I’d written mine on time, just not posted it and decided to go ahead.

      Thanks for reading and commenting once again. I do appreciate it.



      • elmowrites January 23, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

        Even if all the stories were on the same subject, I know I can count on yours to show it in a novel way; glad you went ahead and posted.

  5. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) January 22, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    I don’t care, I feel like saving him. We’ll enter the home together!

    • dmmacilroy January 23, 2015 at 10:33 am #

      Dear Perry,

      I’m glad you’re the intervening type. World needs more of you. Thanks for reading and commenting.



      • rgayer55 January 26, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

        The two of them in the same room? God help the nurses.

  6. Michael B. Fishman January 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    The best of these 100-word stories, at least IMO, have a beginning, a middle and an end. They stand alone on just the 100 words. I don’t want to take up a ton of space here and talk about the topic of the story so I’ll just say that this story not only stands alone on those 100 words, but it conveys a powerful punch of emotion.

    • dmmacilroy January 23, 2015 at 10:37 am #

      Dear Michael,

      When I receive a comment like yours I thank my lucky stars that I decided to become a writer. As in Zen archery, hitting the target is only part of the process. There is stance, draw, release and contemplation as the arrow speeds toward its mark. Thank you for letting me know that this shot was a good one.



  7. singleworkingmomswm January 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    To leave this earth doing something we love, that is the best way, and that is what I feel when I read this post. I’ve experienced death close to heart “the other way”. I’m glad the son wished him fair sailing. 🙂 XO

    • dmmacilroy January 23, 2015 at 10:40 am #

      Dear SWM,

      I love it that you keep visiting my blog and reading. You cannot know how much I appreciate that.

      I think perhaps, as the old saying goes, the apple did not fall far from the tree in this story.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



      • singleworkingmomswm January 23, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

        It’s truly such a pleasure to read these short stories you write, Doug. I look forward to them, often times to the small escape they lend me. Aloha to you, also, Kasey

  8. storydivamg January 22, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    “It’s always like that. They just don’t put it in the brochure because it’s bad for business.” This turning in the conversation is my favorite part of your story this week. Good work.

    As far as the swamp goes, I hope you managed to save an alligator or two to set free in the wild later. If not, I hope you enjoyed a feast of fried alligator poppers and alligator stew to celebrate the completion of your labor.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

    • dmmacilroy January 23, 2015 at 10:44 am #

      Dear Marie,

      I’m glad you recognized that line for the truth and for the turning that is is. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      As for that swamp, well, it was a figure of speech, but it’s drained now in any event, though I daresay the Swampmaster will conjure up more critters to wrestle.



  9. lingeringvisions by Dawn January 22, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    This reminds me of a play my cousin directed last year called The Outgoing Tide.

    • dmmacilroy January 23, 2015 at 10:48 am #

      Dear Dawn,

      I read the article and enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing. Perhaps I should try my hand at that discipline. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  10. Amy Reese January 23, 2015 at 1:02 am #

    This is so terribly sad, I just don’t want to imagine ever having to be in this kind of position, but I believe it as my parents age. Listening to my mother talk about this very thing, I want to push it away. Your story is so crisp and perfect in those few last words, and so much conveyed in the tight space. Somehow, I want to accept this scenario as being the right thing for the two of them. The energy feels right. I hope I’m making some kind of sense, Doug! Aloha!

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:09 am #

      Dear Amy,

      Of course you’re making sense. Do your mother the courtesy of not pushing it away. It is hard to leave, feeling as though you will be abandoning your children… There is a very real kind of asking for permission and understanding going on when a parent speaks of these things.

      You are a beautiful person and I thank you for your kind compliments for Following Seas.



      • Amy Reese January 28, 2015 at 6:01 am #

        Your kindness warms my heart. Thank you.

  11. plaridel January 23, 2015 at 3:49 am #

    death is something we all have to face someday. hopefully, it will be of our own choosing. that’s the more humane way.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:10 am #

      Dear Plaridel,

      We all walk down that road. I’d rather choose, too.



  12. wildbilbo January 23, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    Interesting take – a burial at sea doesn’t normally involve the person rowing themselves out!
    Great dialogue, very natural, son upset but respecting the father’s choice (per his parting words). I liked it a lot.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:11 am #

      Dear KT,

      Thanks for commenting so cogently, sir. I appreciate it.



  13. draliman January 23, 2015 at 6:52 am #

    Very sad, but at least he’s in control of his destiny. Lovely story.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:13 am #

      Dear Draliman,

      I’d rather be in control, too, otherwise it is a death by a thousand cuts, courtesy of time, gravity and all the tiny little maladies that beset us at the end of the golden years. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  14. Suzanne Joshi January 23, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    Very well written as always. I agree with Perry. 🙂 I’ll help Perry save him and we’ll all enter the home together. Come to think of it, I may already be there to welcome both of them. I really don’t want to go there either, but I won’t “give up the ship” until I’m called, and a good home is a heck of a lot better than sleeping on the street. 🙂 — Suzanne

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:15 am #

      Dear Suzanne,

      I’m sure that the question of ‘rowing’ is often going to be answered differently for men as opposed to women. For me the idea of going into a home is tantamount to death itself. I guess it up to each of us to decide. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  15. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist January 23, 2015 at 7:47 am #

    The final good-byes over the final journey and despite the son worrying he accepts his father’s decision. Very moving.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:16 am #

      Dear Irene,

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



  16. helenmidgley January 23, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Beautiful end, both the story and the character 🙂

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:17 am #

      Dear Helen,

      Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to read and share your thoughts.



  17. Sarah Ann January 23, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    Beautiful. The love between father and son is clear, as is the dad’s determination and sense of humour (don’t put it in the brochure). An uplifting tale about choosing a good death.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      Dear Sarah Ann,

      It is a hard thing to part with your son or father while still able to express love and longing. Not often we get the chance, either, but there is still a lot to be said for going out the way you want to, while you still can make the choice. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  18. Margaret January 23, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    That’s a very moving story. I guess the father is determined to die as he has lived, but what a lonely way to go. Beautifully told.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Dear Margaret,

      Thank you very much.



  19. Sightsnbytes January 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    beautiful story, I loved it!

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Dear S+B,

      Thanks for saying so.



  20. Alice Audrey January 23, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    There’s no way I could wish my father “fair winds” under those circumstances. I’d go out in a speed boat and scoop him up when he got tired. Then again, I wouldn’t put him in a nursing home in the first place.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      Dear Alice,

      You’ve got some lucky parents. Good for you and them.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  21. Sally January 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    The hard choices senior citizens have to make to not become a burden on the younger ones. Sad story.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:39 am #

      Dear Sally,

      Life is hard at times and these are hard times. Thanks for seeing deep into the story.



  22. Claire Fuller January 23, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    That’s a brave son who wishes his father fair winds, even if it is the right thing to do. Lovely writing Doug.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:34 am #

      Dear Claire,

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Your words mean a lot to me because you have earned your stripes as a writer. You’ve been here on these pages for a long time and I hope that never changes.



  23. Sandra January 23, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    Now it’s me who’s late to the party. I loved this, I loved the fact that the son would let his father go like that. And I really loved the fact that the old man thought this was the way he wanted to go. Boatie that I am, there’s still no way I’d do that, so I guess that makes me not a proper boatie. There’s a special kind of desolation to be felt out on the water, on your own, when you’re at a low ebb. Hat off to your main character. And to you.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:27 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      You are a proper ‘boatie’. Do not sell yourself short. There is much to be said for wanting to die among friends in the company of ‘society’ and I would not disparage anyone for making that choice. Some men think like my main character, though, and this story is for my son.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I love you.



  24. ContactRida January 23, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    as a nurse in one of those homes, yes. it is like that. fair winds indeed. a far better way to good. lovely story of controlling one’s death as one has controlled one’s life.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:24 am #

      Dear CR,

      Your comment was validating and I could hear the truth in it. i am sure you see far too much pain and loneliness and loss of spirit. Please know that those few out of many nurses who truly cared for my father have my eternal gratitude. I will forever try to pay the debt forward. Here’s a small installment. Thank you for all that you do for those in your care. It matters. You are loved and it is significant.



  25. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) January 23, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    I know my father always said he wanted to go out and perish in the mountain.. but he died in the hospital, he never ended up in a home either.. so probably the best thing.. this was a lovely tale.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:19 am #

      Dear Bjorn,

      Your father was wise and I’m glad his end didn’t include an interminable stay in a home. There is something to be said for a quick end for a man, once vibrant and strong. i know I long to still be in command of my senses when I choose to go.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  26. aliciajamtaas January 23, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    This touches in for me. Both my husband and I have aging parents (my father turned 94 yesterday, Mother is 90. Donn’s mom is also 94) and I would wish this exact scenario for them – to go gently into this good night in a way they choose, not in a home, not in pain, just ready to set sail, in peace.

    Both father and son are quite brave in your story. Nicely, nicely done.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:05 am #

      Dear Alicia,

      I hope that you get your wish for you and your husband’s parents. It is always a hard time for all concerned. Life is like that. We live for the good and endure the bad. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.



  27. David Stewart January 24, 2015 at 12:41 am #

    this is so beautiful and heartbreaking. I can sense the son’s dilemma and sympathize. I don’t know what I would do in his situation. I like you last line, a variation of “farewell”.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:03 am #

      Dear David,

      Thanks for your fine compliment for Following Seas and for realizing that it is a variation as you mentioned. I’ve been through this once, but the long version and no chance of a last boat ride for my father, hence my desire not to put my son through it. I appreciate you dropping by to read and comment.



  28. rogershipp January 24, 2015 at 3:05 am #

    If only all ‘goodbyes” could be that well planned.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 11:00 am #

      Dear Roger,

      If only is right. I am screwing myself up to have the courage to make it so for me. We shall see if I stay the course in the end.



  29. AnnIsikArts January 24, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    Touching, and also topical. In the UK there have been horror stories of old folks having been allowed to starve to death in ‘nursing homes’ in their armchairs and on top of every physical abuse imaginable. I hope I drop dead in the street. (Not yet, though).

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 10:58 am #

      Dear Ann,

      Horrific indeed if they are true (and I’ll bet that they are). Humankind is an oxymoron at times. I hope you get your wish. Thanks for reading and commenting.



      • AnnIsikArts January 27, 2015 at 11:12 am #

        You writing this week has touched many hearts.

  30. talesfromthemotherland January 24, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    Heart-wrenching in its truth– this is wonderful, Doug. My mother wanted so much to sail off in a boat, and be done with it. Sadly, she lingered. The painful dilemma here is very moving. d

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 10:56 am #

      Dear Dawn,

      Children are too often torn between love and the feeling that they must try to keep their parents alive for as long as possible. My feeling is that I want to be alive until I can no longer take care of myself. Then it is time for one last boat trip.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  31. Nan Falkner January 25, 2015 at 7:48 am #

    Dear Doug, Great story and so very sad – but it is life. Mike’s Dad died a couple of years ago in Wisconsin and we went up to see him in a home – it was so very sad and I told Mike that we could stay an extra day if he wanted – or more. He died peacefully and his dad was in the Merchant Marines for 30 plus years. What a wonderful man he was – so our children are sons of a son of a sailor! Nan 🙂

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 10:54 am #

      Dear Nan,

      It is a special thing to have a relative that can tell of a life spent at sea. There are things you can learn nowhere else.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad Mike’s father went peacefully.



  32. Subroto January 25, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

    Sad and moving. An uncle passed away a fortnight ago after a long painful descent into Dementia.
    I remembered those lines from Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do not go gentle into that good night”

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 10:52 am #

      Dear Subroto,

      The youth wants the father to rage and the father is too tired and that is the tragedy of old age. Time wears us down until there is naught to do but go…

      I’m sorry for your loss. My father went the same way.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



  33. kirsten January 26, 2015 at 6:04 am #

    Poignant. A beautiful conversation between father and son.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 10:50 am #

      Dear Kirsten,

      Thank you for saying so. I appreciate you taking the time to do so.



  34. Ellespeth January 26, 2015 at 6:49 am #

    A fitting sailor’s death. Leaves one thinking.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 10:49 am #

      Dear Ellespeth,

      It truly is. i’m glad that you saw that.



  35. Dee January 26, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    Dear Doug

    After recently visiting a neighbour of 94 who is a resident in a care home that is held in very high regard, I have to say I too would take the boat.

    Your writing never disappoints, you have captured the love of the son for his father perfectly and the determination of the father to be the captain of his fate.

    Take care


    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 10:48 am #

      Dear Dee,

      I have written on this theme several times over a few years to make sure my son will understand why I chose to go the way that I will, provided I am strong enough to make the choice when the time comes. It is heart wrenching to watch what too often happens to our loved ones. Death is often a release for everyone concerned and I would spare him that.

      Thank you for reading and commenting so kindly. I appreciate it.



      • Dee January 27, 2015 at 11:40 am #

        Dear Doug

        The older I get and the more visits I make to care homes, the more I detetmine that those places are not where I want to spend my twilight years.

        I will write down my wishes and hope my family respect them.

        With best wishes


  36. rgayer55 January 26, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

    My Dad loved to fish and so do I. I’m sure your familiar with this saying, “Old fishermen never die, they just smell like it.” Great tale this week, Doug. My favorite of the whole lot.

    • dmmacilroy January 27, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Dear Russell,

      I’ve heard that saying and at times it is true. Thank you for telling me that you liked Following Seas the way you did. It means a lot coming from you.



  37. February 23, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    My father and I had a similar discussion before he died at home. His boat was metaphorical but his decision and journey was the same. I was blessed to have been with him when he cast off. Your words were bitter sweet for me today. Thank you, Tracey

    • dmmacilroy February 23, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

      Dear Tracey,

      Thank you for visiting this story and my blog. You have a perspective on that particular journey that few in this world do and that is no doubt a double edged sword. It gives you understanding yet eliminates false hopes. I’m sure your father was thankful you were there and proud of what you have become. That you are able to share these experiences with such a clear voice is a gift to all of us. People in the FF community have their eyes on you and are looking out for your work. Keep at it. (I heard of your story this week via the grapevine. Only read three this time around and yours was one of them.)



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