Papa’s Ship

Arpad Nagy
May 7 · 7 min read

“The wind is never for the sailor who knows not to which port he is bound.”- Og Mandino

Bluenose I. Nova Scotia Archives-Bluenose: A Canadian Icon.

My feet are so small. I have to run fast all the way down the hall. I have to find Dad. I have to hurry. I have to be fast. I know Dad will have it. Dad always has what I need.

I can’t see! Why won’t my tears fall out of the way? I blink and blink but my eyes are blurry from the water.

Papa wants to go now. He said he would wait for me but I can’t waste time. I have to hurry but my feet are so small and there are so many steps to take. I’m running and the tears are shaking out. I can see. End of the hall. Turn right. See the windows. Turn left. All the chairs have people but my Dad is there. Right where he said he would be. He sees me. I can tell he already knows I need help.

“Sweetheart! Are you ok?” he asks me already walking towards me, his arms out, his hands open bending low looking straight into my dripping eyes.

“Daddy! I have to hurry.” I tell him, trying so hard to talk even though I’m scared it will waste time. I have to be fast.

“Dad I need money. I need money for Papa.” The words come out of my mouth and I see spit and bubbles from my nose. I’m trying not to cry. Papa is waiting for me.

“Money? You need money for Papa?” my dad repeats back to me as he’s already pulling his wallet out of his pocket.

“No! Dad, not paper money. I need ten cents. Papa said he needs ten cents. He said he would wait.” I tell my Dad just what Papa told me. I’m trying to stop crying but my tears and nose won’t stop running.

“Ten cents? I know I have some change just a second sweetheart.” His hand pushes into his pockets. I can hear the coins jingling. Yes, Dad! I knew you would have it! I’m so excited. I just need to hurry.

My dad opens his hand with a small pile of coins. Loonies, twoonies, quarters, and nickels. His finger pushed the coins apart in his hand. He picks up two nickels and hands them to me. My heart falls apart. I can feel it. I can feel pieces of my heart falling into my tummy. I feel sick and scared and wobbly.

“No! Dad!” I cry out, “It HAS to be a DIME! Papa said be a good girl and bring Papa a dime. I’ll wait but, go now, go bring Papa a dime.” I want to turn and run. I want Dad to make it ok. I want to show Papa I could do it.

My Dad shakes his hand around scattering the coins. His eyes have water too.

“There! Look! I have it, honey! I have a dime!” his voice makes me feel a little bit better. He takes my hand and puts the dime in my palm. I look down and see it. The sailboat. I can hear Papa’s voice. “Look now, sweetheart. See this little dime?” His soft hand holding mine showing me the coin. “This is Canada’s best ship! She’s called the Bluenose. She’s famous! They built her right here in Nova Scotia and she sailed around the world and oh she was fast! The fastest ship by far!” he tells me. I love his voice, Papa’s kind voice. It’s like a bird singing a song. “Papa, is that why they call us Bluenosers?” I ask him. I love when Papa tells me stories about Nova Scotia. Papa smiles and looks at me. We have the same eyes, Papa and me. Nice brown eyes just like Papa, mom always tells me.

“You’re some good girl,” Papa said to me. He always told me that. Whenever I brought him his slippers or helped Grammie clean up, or helped him dig potatoes, he would always tell me that, “You’re some good girl,” then he’d pat my head. Papa smelled like Christmas trees and hay. His hugs were my favorite!

I close my fingers around the little dime with the big ship with all the sails. I hold it tight.

“Why does Papa want a dime, Sweetie?” Dad asks me.

“Dad I don’t know! Papa looked at me and waved his hand to listen to him. Mom put me on the bed and Papa told me. Dad, I have to hurry!” my feet were already pushing on the floor pulling my hand out of Dad’s. More bubbles from my nose, I can taste the tangy water from my tears running into my mouth.

“Then let’s hurry sweetheart.” Dad picked me up and put me high up on his shoulder. “We’ll be fast. Hold on.” Dad had that look on his face. The one Mom calls “business Dad,” people in the way barely turn their heads to look at us and they scoot out of the way. We’re moving fast now. Everyone is moving out of our way. Dad’s apologizing and being nice but his voice isn’t gentle like usual. We’re almost there. I see my Uncles and Aunties. I see my cousins. We go in the room and Dad puts me down. Mom and Grammie are crying a little bit. Papa is on the bed. He took his glasses off. He’s looking way up.

“Papa?” I call. At the bed, Mom lifts me up. “Papa! I have it, Papa! I brought a dime!” More pieces of my heart fall into my tummy. “Papa please look, I’m here. I did it.”

Papa turns his head and looks at me. His eyes look sad and happy. He smiles small at me, lifting his arm, raising his hand, “You’re some good girl,” he tells me again and pats my head. I see his nice brown eyes look at me. I’m proud my eyes are like Papas.

“I can go now, my girl,” he tells me. Mom is crying more. “Look now sweetheart,” he points his finger that’s shaking a little bit at the sailing ship. “You see that ship now? She was built right here in Nova Scotia and she sailed around the world,” he tells me, “She was the fastest ship of her kind. Sailed around the world and always came home.” Papa told me lots of stories again. Sometimes I wanted to tell him, “Papa you already told me this story” but I never did. I would sit on this bed and listen to him tell each one a hundred times more. My heart keeps falling apart like cookie crumbs. Papa holds my hand in his holding the dime, “I’m taking this with me so I can send it back. I’ll always be watching you, sweetheart. I won’t ever be far away. I’ll know when you need me. I’ll know when you think of me. I’ll know. Grammie was crying more now. Mom was hugging her tight. “Then you just go on, you just go on being some great girl and I’ll leave you this dime. You’ll see it on the floor, or counter, or in your room. Just all by itself. Wherever you need it. That will be there for you, just for yourself. You watch now. I’ll be right there beside you.” Papa kissed my head and smiled. It was the same smile when we planted my tree in his yard. It was the smile when he took me fishing at the pond. It was the smile he gave his pretty horse every morning when she got her apple. It was the smile I couldn’t wait to see every summer visit.

“Papa, I have my favorite story for you.” I was being brave. I stopped my crying. I didn’t want him to go. Not now. Not yet. I wanted to talk with him more. “It’s when I came for my first visit. When Grammie said I was just brand new. Mom held me in her arms and you opened my blanket. As soon as you said “hello my girl. You come to see Papa now” I smiled and laughed. It was my first laugh. I was so happy to see you. I love you so much, Papa.” I closed my eyes and all the tears pushed out and down my cheeks.

“I love you so much too.” Papa kissed my cheek and his soft hands rubbed mine. “You go on now. You go with your Dad” he smiled and I felt a smile even though I didn’t want to. “You’re some good girl.”

I let Dad pick me up and hugged him tight. I closed my eyes and let all my tears fall. It felt like my whole heart just disappeared.


I’m older now and it’s been many years since Papa passed on but I still keep a little jar on my desk. It’s filled with Seashells and dimes. I find dimes just like he said. They are always just by themselves. Where ever I need them to be even if I didn’t know I need it. I’ll look down and see the silver masts of the Bluenose and I know Papa is still with me. He’s always been right beside me.

Written by

Arpad Nagy

Arpad Nagy

Written by

1st generation Canadian-Hungarian Father, Fly fisher, Chef, Reader, Leader, and working on writer.


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