A story about a father and son as told to my children and me by my husband.
“I know your mother was surprised when she arrived in Heaven and found only two of her three deceased children waiting for her.” My father gave me a wink and his familiar smile.
“I’m sure someone filled her in on what happened to me,” I answered.
The old man just smiled. I saw my dad one last time in 1913. He was 89 years old and fragile. He’d been born in 1824, come to California in 1849 with a wife and two small children in tow. I’d been born on the way out in Panama. After they arrived in Sacramento six more children were added to the family.
They’d come out with your parents, your grandparents, who were their closest friends. The men were business partners. Both of the wives were pregnant. My mother with me, and your mother with your brother Maxwell. Max and I grew up together and were best friends. More children came for both families. Business thrived. The families thrived. All was good.
My father looked into my eyes and smiled sadly. “When you became ill it was different. They were different. There all the time. Max never left your side. He was in such grief. His father Jeremy was so serious. Jeremy had been my closest friend for 30 years and I’d never seen him so angry and frustrated or concerned. I should have known they were different. They never aged. They never became ill. Their injuries healed five times faster than others. The two they called the Elders looked as if they were barely adults. But I just thought it was their happiness and luck to stay so young. You don’t look a day over six and twenty and you’re sixty two. People die of old age when they’re your age.”
My heart broke. “Dad, I didn’t choose to go away. I didn’t choose to be like this – one of them. I thought I would go mad I missed you so much.”
Dad smiled trying to avoid anything too emotional. “Your fiancé got married to another man six months after you died. She couldn’t wait to get hitched.”
“So I heard. She has had a joyful life without me.” She had indeed and I was glad for her.
“You’re better off with someone else Teddy. She would have bored you to death. How about Juliette? Is she still around.”
“On and off.” Well we were on and off. I wished it had been more on but you know how it was back then.
My dad gave me a grave look. “Make it on sooner or later or she’ll be gone. Give me your hand. You’re cold.”
“I’m alive, in my own way.”
“I read a story about a machine that could go through time. That is you, only you don’t have a machine, and you can only go forward.”
“You know what I am.” I had to bring up the subject. I had to get it out in the open.
“You’re no Dracula. I’ve read that one too. Completely unlike the Vampires I know. Son, it was clear that my friends were not like me. They never aged. The avoidance of sun and other daylight activities. Their children grew up and took on an air about them. Finally one day I cornered them and asked. I suspected they’d been cursed or blessed or something in between, but then again that could describe most of us.”
He gave my hand a squeeze. “But you have to realize that at first I was in disbelief. I was horrified that my friends survived on the blood of others until I understood the complexities of their biology and culture.”
He continued to hold my hand as we sat for a few moments and watched the sun set over the oaks.
“That is a beautiful sight Teddy. I love those trees. Promise me Teddy that you’ll do good. Make a difference. You’re in good graces with the community of Vampires. I can’t see you as evil because my friends are the best people I’ve ever known. They’d do anything for my family. They kept you out of harms way. Those who changed you were evil and it still breaks my heart but you’re not a man of shadows.”
We saw each other for the following three weeks until one night the old man fell asleep peacefully in his sleep and went to be with my mother.
No matter what befalls a child the love of a parent never wavers or dies. The love of a child for his father will last longer than any lifetime. For all that is good in the world comes from the generations of love that lingers and lives on long after we are all gone.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman