I ran with eyes closed pretending to be a butterfly in the meadow, but father fell on me.
He put a scary face on! "Nana! Be a child long as you must, but always run with eyes wide open."
He pinned my shoulders to the ground, and I felt a solid tear holding in the corner of my eye. In a flash his face changed to pale white. "I lost your mother. I can ill afford to loose you."
"Let me show you what I mean." He gathered me up in to his arms leaving the picnic basket. A cool dry breeze made my pigtails fly. Suddenly, we stood over a cliff, with his arms firmly anchored around my waist. "This is the Atlantic Ocean. Soon we will set sail aboard a ship called, The Titanic. I need you to promise me this: always play with care."
I looked over the Ocean waves, watching seagulls dip their beaks in the water's foam, or ride great swells in freedom. I tried to imagine another city beyond our home, but all I saw was endless water, until the scent of tangled seaweed brought me back.
Finally, the day came when we boarded ship, so father could preach at D.L. Moody's church. Miss Leitch, came along to care for me. We made the gangplank, and headed for the belly of the ship. I gazed above to see the women on deck, displaying their hats of wild flowers and peacock feathers. Father clinched my hand, as we felt the plank heave above dark portly water. " Listen my child, no need to admire the rich, since we are forever wealthy in Christ!"
On board I found many kids to play with. We played pirate ship, hide-n-seek, but never too far from father's watchful eye. Once I ran near the ships edge. Father pulls me aside "Dear Nana! What am I to do with you? Remember what I told you?"
Yes father, run with eyes wide open!" To show him, I spread my arms out to sea.
"Dear child! Do not run on the deck. This voyage must be a growing time for you."
In my sleep I felt my mother's presence, and dreamed of her in a soft white gown floating to me on a glassy sea.
Suddenly, I awoke to my father. "Nana, listen to me this is very important. I need you to put this life belt on. I must escort you both, to a lifeboat, where they will safely lower you in to the water. You must not be afraid. Remember: God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind."
"Father, please stay!"
" I can't my dear Nana. I must take my place among the remaining passengers, as a minister of God."
"No, no." I shook my head, and felt salted tears run down my cheek. Yet father, in a very calm manner carried me, and soon my remaining tears fell off to sea.
I waved goodbye to my father, who bravely took his place with others.
It was like a dream. If not for the reflection of sea, and biting cold, I would have pinched myself to know it was real. I did not know how much I grew that day, but when I left my father, the child in me left too. Miss Leitch and I surveyed the remaining rescue boats for him, until my eyes burned down to my heart.
I went back to England to live with Miss Leitch. Several months passed in her care, when a loud knock fell at the door. "There is someone here to see you Nana." She said.
A grey looking man with a handlebar moustache stepped forward in the hall. He pulled off his hat, got on one knee, and introduced himself. "Little Miss Harper?" He gently took my hand, and said. "I met your father at sea, while I was desperately clinging to a piece of broken wood. He kept shouting at me from the moonlit sea. Sir, are you a believer?"
Shaking like a leaf, I said, "No, afraid not."
"It's not too late!" He shouted. "Sir, believe on the name of the Lord Jesus, and thou shall be saved!
"I miss Nana, was the last convert of you're father's unsinkable faith."
(A work of historical fiction dedicated to the memory of John Harper.) "The Last true hero of the Titanic."
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