I do not remember the actual evening, but my father told me the story often – so often, in fact, that I feel as though I can almost remember it.

We were sitting on a park bench, across the street from our brownstone row house, looking up at the sky as the daylight faded away. It must have been one of those rare clear nights, when the smoke from the electric power plant towers was blown out to sea, and back in the 1950s the city was not lit up at night with neon signs.

The shops closed down, and only corner light posts shed a dim light on the sidewalks below.

I was sitting on my father’s lap. Slowly, first one and then another of the night’s stars began to shine in the darkening sky overhead. Perhaps I was 2 years old. “What’s that?” I asked, though as my father would tell the story, I said “What’s dat?” as I pointed up to a star.

“That is a star,” he told me.

“I want one.” I very simply replied, and my father promised to see what he could do. All through the years, whenever he would tell me the story, he would end with a smile, and remind me that he was still “seeing” what it was that he could do. He wanted to remind that he had not forgotten
and that he was still working on my request from all those many years before. I would always respond with a daughterly smile and let him know that yes, I knew that he had not forgotten.

The years did pass, and in time, my father breathed his last at the wonderful old age of 93. He had not told me the star story for some time, as his mind had slipped He explained that he had gotten “holes in his memory,” but he had also begun to call me by my childish nickname, Nini. I had
apparently found it too difficult to say Christine and would rather refer to myself as Nini.

And I forgot about the star story, until the other night that is, when I walked out to do the animal chores. It had been raining over the creek valley for what seemed like weeks, and I had learned to carry my flashlight looking carefully at the ground just ahead, but on this particular night the sky was clear.

The solar lights had been charged by the sun all day, and as I walked, I saw that they shed a gentle light across the upper yard. I looked up to the lights at the top of the windmill tower to see if they too had charged. They had, but it was the sky behind them that took my breath away. For the
first time in what seemed like ages, I could see stars everywhere.

I turned to let my gaze follow what looked like a blanket of stars, spread out across the creek valley sky from hilltop horizon to horizon. It really did feel as though I was seeing them for the first time, and I remembered my father’s story. It occurred to me that he had more than met his promise.

A whole sky filled with stars shone down on me, and I imagined that I really could remember sitting wrapped in his arms on that park bench, so many, many years before.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.