The Home Stretch

 

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When a friend suggests that old age is a downhill slope and the best we can do is hold onto a little dignity, recently retired Bill Smith takes pause. For Bill, the end has always been in view. His life has seen a series of unlikely extensions. When he was young, he hated his father and contemplated suicide. Later in his life he was diagnosed with leukemia and expected to die within months. Bill's childhood was spent on a communal evangelical mission, but eventually Bill began to question his parents' strict religious beliefs. His father reacted with violence and Bill felt trapped between the dishonesty of trying to conform to his parents' beliefs and the conviction that he was doomed to hell for questioning them. Eventually he provokes his father into a confrontation that leads to an outcome that redefines their relationship and alters the course of both of their lives. By midlife, Bill has been married for twenty years and has his own family. The challenges he has faced at sea as chief engineer on tugboats have helped him heal. His thoughts of suicide have faded. His father's recent descent into Alzheimer's Disease has created an avenue for the reconciliation the two have worked on for years. Then, unexpectedly, a story emerges about his father, involving his sister, and Bill is confronted once again with the dark side of his father's personality.


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