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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)

TITLE: The Last Goodbye
By Megan Sayer
02/08/11


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YOU’RE TUNED INTO HOBART’S OWN ONE OH ONE POINT SEVEN, THE HOME OF LATE NIGHT CLASSICS, AND COMING UP NOW AT A QUARTER TO MIDNIGHT, HERE’S A SONG FROM REM…
DADADADADA..DAAA.DAAA.DADADADADA..

I can’t sing along. Has anyone else noticed how inappropriate this song is?
The lights in Gramp’s hospital room have been turned down for the night when we arrive. There’s a stillness in the room that’s unusual for the amount of people in it, although the man in the next bed has his radio up far too loud. We squeeze in behind Uncle Fred and Angela, nodding a tacit hello to Norma as she strokes back what’s left of Gramp’s hair. Sue and Brian are heading off to get coffee, it’s going to be a long night.

IT’S THEEEEEEE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT…
He doesn’t look much different than he’d always looked to me, propped up on pillows. His breathing is laboured and he has a tube in his nose, but I’d expected people who were dying to look…well…I don’t know. I’d never seen anyone dying before. I don’t even know Gramp very well, not well enough to justify being here in his final hour. I know him as a larrikin, an enthusiastic drinker and joker, a man who saw the inside of a church at his christening and at his wedding, and that was enough for him. Max and I have been together two years now, but having only just moved back to Hobart, I haven’t seen much of his extended family. I don’t belong here, yet I belong with Max and feel compelled to stay.

IT’S THEEEEEE END…
I finger the gingham curtains and look down at my feet. Norma is crying silent tears while she whispers her love to Gramp. Max takes his place at Gramp’s other side and holds his hand gently. Gramp had always been one of Max’s favourite people, and it must be hard for him to see his hero like this. Gramp flew fighter planes during the war. Later on he’d flown commercial planes, started his own businesses and taken the family on wild trips through Africa fulfilling all his boyhood dreams. And now this man’s man was still, struggling to whisper a few words in these his final hours. I can see the tears in Max’s eyes. This is the end of an era.

IT’S THEEEEEE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT…
I step backwards out of Gramp’s curtained cubicle. The man in the next bed looks bored, staring out the window. I can see the lights of the TV flicker on his face, and his radio is still blaring. The nurses have said nothing. I don’t know if he realizes that the man in the bed next to him will be leaving soon.
DADADADADA..DAAA.DAAA.DADADADADA..

Sue is back, whispering in Max’s ear. He makes room for her on the bed and she sits down, gently laying her forehead on Gramp’s legs. Brian and I exchange glances and I take my cue, backing out of the cubicle and slowly turning to the door. Coffee break. Toilet break. Anything break.

I’m leaning up against the wall outside the cafeteria sipping a burnt and cooling coffee when a lady approaches me. She has long white hair in a plait down her back and looks familiar, but at first I can’t place her.
“Dianne?” she says to me.
And then I remember. She’s been at our church a few months, helps out with the morning teas. From the mainland. I’ve only met her once or twice.
“Dianne you’re with Mr Broderick in room 36 aren’t you?”
“No, it’s Max’s…Yes. Yes I am” So tired.
“Well can you tell Max I visited with his grandfather just yesterday, and had such a lovely conversation. I work here, I’m the chaplain.”
I’m waiting. Until now I hadn’t realized how hunched my shoulders had become.
She touched me gently on the arm. “He said Yes.”

God. God God God.
By the time I make it back to the room he’s gone. Norma is quiet now. Max is holding Sue, who is crying. I look over at Gramp, the brother of one day that I never knew. The man in the next bed is asleep now and his radio is off, but the words of that last song echo in my head.
IT’S THEEEEEE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT…
AND I FEEL FINE…
See you up there, Gramp.


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This article has been read 502 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/10/11
What a nice story. I liked how you put pieces of the song in. The ending was lovely.
diana kay02/12/11
great story and well told! I too think the way you used the music to set the scence and to interweave the pauses was very clever.You have managed to tell a whole story here within the word count. Clever!
Helen Curtis02/12/11
Great job!
Bonnie Bowden02/12/11
It's great that God brings certain people into our life at unexpected times.

It is difficult to say goodbye to those we love, but the reasurance of heaven makes all the difference.

Well written.
Michael Throne02/17/11
It's our fantasy...how can anyone we know and love and, especially, respect not know Christ? Well told; I enjoyed this. Great play with the song, as well.
Rachel Phelps02/17/11
Great descriptions and pacing. Congratulations on your Editor's Choice award!
diana kay02/17/11
well deserved win :-) congrautlaions
Beth LaBuff 02/17/11
Congratulations on your ribbon and Editor's Choice! Great work! This is heart-warming.
Henry Clemmons02/17/11
Great job Megan. Congrats on EC. I look forward to reading more from you.
Adele Butler02/17/11
Very powerful story. I felt as if I were in the room watching on. A well deserved win. Congratulations.
Margaret Kearley 02/18/11
Wonderful. Great writing and a well deserved EC placing - congratulations. You described the sadness, the hopelessness, the grief, then the miracle of salvation and hope - just beautifully.
Phyllis Stokes 02/28/14
Very engaging. Loved it, all the way through, and especially the end. Great job!