‘Counting Breaths’ by Rosemarie Robotham

Robotham, Rosemarie 1996

Counting Breaths by Rosemarie Robotham, 1996

The magic trick:

Having the narrator focus on her parents as she tells the story of her father’s final months

And a Happy Valentine’s Day to you. I hope you have enjoyed our run of love stories on the SSMT site. We celebrate the finale today with a beautiful little story. There’s a real good chance you will shed a tear or two by the time you finish reading it.

The narrator recounts the final days of her father’s life. But instead of discussing her own feelings about his death or even recounting their relationship as father and daughter, she focuses on her parents. In fact, she very nearly takes herself out of the story – which is pretty remarkably generous, when you think about it.

What she portrays instead is a gentle, loving relationship between her parents that is both sad and grateful. And that’s quite a trick on Robotham’s part.

The selection:

Daddy’s only desire, in these months of failing health, is that my mother stay near. In the mornings, when my mother tries to push out of bed to get his 6 a.m. medication and a cup of hot chocolate, he holds on to her. It is far better therapy, he insists with a flash of his old mischief, for them to lie in bed and cuddle. He chuckles as he says it, but he means it fiercely. If my mother goes out, to the grocery store or to get her hair done, my father asks me several times each hour: “Where is Mommy? Isn’t she back yet?”

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