Grandmother’s Voyage – Donna Ferguson

Thunder bellowed across the horizon until the light of a thousand lanterns formed an arc of lightning. Momentarily the lone figure on the ship’s deck was silhouetted against the starless sky. Her floor length skirt fluttered in the wind as her arm rose to hold the brim of her hat, while her scarf flapped around her neck. Lina’s hands grasped the railing. Her body moved in a rhythm synchronized with the ship’s movement as the powerful waves encountered the hull. The storm of wind, rain, lightning, and thunder turned the Atlantic Ocean into a sea of mountainous peaks. Each wave capped with white snow-like foam.

Lina leaned into the wind to catch the water’s spray on her face. Tendrils of her brown hair lay wet on her forehead and cheeks. Lips arched into a smile as she relished the feeling of contentment, another voyage on the open seas, another chance to experience a storm at sea, another moment to think about the past and imagine the future.

Would she be as thrilled this time to see the symbol of freedom, the “Statue of Liberty” in New York City Harbor, as she was the first time three years ago in 1903? Her legs had trembled as her hand flew to her mouth when an unladylike gasp escaped her lips at the first sighting of the “Lady.” Would her eyes again become blurry with moisture as she handed her German passport to be stamped “United States of America” at customs? Would her stomach ache as she envisioned her elderly father bidding her goodbye at the doorway of his small apartment in Berlin? They both knew they may never touch hands again, look into each others eyes, or hear the sound of their voices in the same room. She hoped to remember the distinctive tone of his voice as he wished her a safe voyage and a blessed life in America.

The deck glowed in another flash of lightning. Lina listened to the sound of the deck door opening. “Lina, Lina…oh, there you are. I should have known I would find you here alone. Come, the band is playing. We are all waiting for you.” whispers Anna.

“Yes, Anna, I’m here. Isn’t it grand? Come join me.”

The two sisters stood side by side as each escaped into their private thoughts. Anna, impatient to be inside, tugged at Lina’s arm and turned her away from the sea towards the door. Following her sister, Lina took one last look at the ocean and sky then unfurled the long, silk scarf from around her neck. Holding the scarf aloft it caught the wind’s current and lightly circled above their heads. As their eyes tracked its progress, the scarf was blown higher over the deck railing in an easterly direction over the water. It was last seen, a colorful beacon lit by lightning, retracing the ship’s voyage back to the east.


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