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"I know that my time is near," I thought, as I lied there motionless in my hospital bed. All the years of doing whatever it was that I wanted to do, and eating anything and everything that I wanted have finally caught up with me.

I watched as my family gathered around the bed. I could see the look of sadness in each and every one of their faces. The hollow sounds of their voices rang in my ears as though we were all huddled in a church or reverent place.

I remembered back, just a few years ago, when my grandchildren made a big mess while eating at the dining room table.

"Holly Mackerel! Don't you darn kids have any manners at all? Do you have to eat like little pigs and get food all over the place?" I would say as I laughed and grabbed for the dishcloth to wipe up their messes.

I smiled to myself as I opened my tired, old eyes and looked around to see if I could find the little buggers anywhere in the room. Sure enough, there was one of the little tots standing over in the corner with that dirty little face that every four year old always seems to have. I wish I had the strength to call her over and tell her that I did my very best. I wish I had the strength to wipe that face just one last time with a dishcloth and give her a great big hug.

I hear that terrible rattle as I breathe - the sound that tells the world my time is now at hand.

"Is that the light?" I say out loud causing everyone in the room to look at me.

"Papa, I love you," says a little voice quietly in my ear.

Once again, I force my eyes open to see the newest of my likeness - the dirty-faced little one, who I will now shortly leave behind to carry on what I have taught through my good deeds on this earth.

"I'm gonna wipe Papa's face for him," says the little quiet voice.

A soft warm clothe brushes across my cheek to remove the contents spilling down my neck from the tube now gurgling deep within my throat. Off in the unknown, I hear the sound of all creation calling out to me, waving a short message, back and forth, scrolled in both ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ and written just for me from my days gone by.

I slowly close my eyes for the last and final time. I feel myself hovering, like a giant golden eagle being pulled through the days of my life one flashing brightly lit page after another. Suddenly, the turbulent winds become quiet and I silently glide past the out-stretched paws of all the helpless animals I helped save down through the years. From out of nowhere come thousands upon thousands of crystal clear doves who force me to look down and I smile as I see a kinder world below me.

I quietly soar in a never-ending circle, until I hear the sounds of those who love me now crying in agony. I watch as my granddaughter wipes my cheek for the last and final time, before the nurse covers my face with the course, white sheet.

"That's my papa and he's got manners like me," says the little girl as she’s led away from my bed, tucked safely beneath her mother's shaking arm.

I look directly into the eyes of the dirty-faced little one and smile as I veer away and enter the blinding light at the end of the tunnel. It is clear to me now that it was all the ‘little things’ (not the big things) that I did during my life that helped change the world to make it better for the children of tomorrow.

There are many regrets in the pages of my youth, but I have learned much throughout the years. I am done here in this place. I have done my job as a ‘Papa’ and I have performed it very well.

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