All his family and friends took turns in the hospital room, waiting for the inevitable. Death. Outside the family, looking in, most everyone who knew, read about, or worked with Stanley Robinson were certain his life of wealth and privilege was ending well. After all, he was responsible for so many innovations in the publishing industry. His combination of paper and electronic media revolutionized how news and information was broadcast. Stanley seemed to have a sixth sense about when to divest or invest. He invested millions in electronic news gathering equipment against the advice of all his fellow corporate moguls. As usual, he proved to be on the cutting edge. The money poured in faster than anyone expected or even dreamed.
And yet…what are those expressions on his family’s faces? Stanley’s wife seems disinterested, chatting on her cell phone with one of her attorneys. "Yes, Randolph. I wish to sell those stocks. I understand your hesitation but I am turning a new page in Stella Corporation’s history. No, future. Stanley is nearly gone and my signature is all you need."
Three children, Daniel in the room reading a novel, Priscilla and Sarah in the cafeteria, sipping coffee drinks, absently checking their watches. Not one of those faces carried emotional distress or even sadness on this final day.
"Mom. Would you like a coffee or tea?" Daniel asked. "I’m off to the cafeteria. I’ll send Sarah or Priscilla up."
"Excuse me, Randolph," she said to the phone. "Yes dear. I’d love an iced tea please." Back to the phone, "Go ahead Randolph. What about the Archimedes Yacht Company?"
And so it went on Stanley Robinson’s final day on earth. His last few breaths were ebbing now. His vision fading. His thoughts nearly obscure. And then he spoke to his wife, "Stella? Can you hear me?"
"Stanley. Did you speak dear? Was that you? Phillip," she called to her personal secretary, "get the children up here please. Immediately."
"Stella listen to me. I don’t have much time now. Please express my great sorrow to Daniel, Priscilla, and Sarah." He paused to catch his breath here. "Tell them that I am so sorry to have ignored them in favor of this business empire I’m leaving." At this point Stanley raised himself up onto his elbows. "Stella please forgive me for ignoring you as well. If only I’d had more time…"
Stanley Robinson fell back down on his bed, stared up at the ceiling and exhaled his final breath. Stella stared transfixed at the single tear falling down his face.
Moments later, the children entered his room. They looked at their father and then their mother. "He’s gone. He did have some final words for us." They looked at her, waiting for the conclusion. "He apologized for not spending enough time with all of you. He said he was sorry for just making lots of money instead of spending time with you. Oh, and he also asked me to forgive him based on the same failing."
As one, the Robinson family turned their eyes on Stanley, their absent father/husband. In an odd, eerie sort of way, he was once again absent from his family.