Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

Dad passed away in his sleep a few hours after the family left the hospice on October 11th. He was awake several times on that last day, so everyone got to say their final goodbyes, bittersweet though they were. In accordance with his wishes, he was cremated and there was no immediate funeral. We will have a memorial service in his Tennessee home town of Jacksboro in a week or two. Instead of sending flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to any of several reputable Alzheimer's cure research programs. One day, this thief in the night, this disease, will be curable and preventable. We are far from being the only family who has lost loved ones to this curse. However, it is my fondest hope that we will be among the last.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a toast to the memory of my father, my mentor, my friend. To Daniel Wayne Hollifield! Rest easy Big Man, you've earned it.

Daddy was a man of many skills. As a machinist, he could create mechanical parts that anyone could draw a blueprint to design. As a farmer, he could make fields grow green and tall and abundant with corn, grain, soybeans, or any kind of hay the land would produce. As a hunter, he could call crows down from the sky with only his voice, see where rabbits or pheasant or quail would hide without even getting out of his pick-up truck. He could work a bird dog just by whistles and a few short spoken words. He could look at a few tracks on the ground and know if a deer was just ambling along happily, or running pell-mell being pursued by wild dogs. He knew every tree in the forrest by its bark and leaves. As a bird lover, he could identify hundreds of different species by their calls, or by their markings if he caught sight of them. As an amateur rock hound, he could identify thousands of different stones and minerals and fossils. He could build barns, or houses, shelves, or cabinets, farm machinery, or toys without needing so much as a single drawing. He could do complex math in his head, and could make pool sharks doff their hats in respect with his skills at geometry. From his seat on his tractor, he could see Indian arrowheads uncovered in a freshly plowed field. He could lay brick, or concrete blocks as well as a master mason. He could split logs for fenceposts or firewood. He invented a simple tool that allowed us to run three or more strands of barbed wire along a fence line just by driving the tractor along the fence posts. He could walk a dip net through a running creek and gather three gallons of minnows for fish bait in just a few minutes. Or turn over a dozen rocks in a shallow stream and catch enough spring lizards with his bare hands to keep us in bait for a weekend fishing trip. I've seen him take the head off a buzzard who was stalking a flock of quail, using a 16 gage Winchester shotgun loaded with one shotshell of sabot slugs, at 50 yards. I've seen him toss a tin can in the air and make it dance as he emptied a .22 High Power pistol he bought at Sears into it, missing twice out of 14 rounds, but never letting the can hit the ground until the pistol was empty. I've seen him let a huge deer walk free, because she had two fauns trailing behind her. I saw him give up hunting because he was too soft-hearted to do it any more.

He wasn't a perfect man. Sometimes he was a little impatient. Sometimes he shouted. Sometimes he expected more of me than I was giving at the time. I've seen him make mistakes. I've seen his pride get in the way of admitting he was wrong about something, but I have also seen him swallow his pride when he felt it was the right thing to do. I've seen him angry. I've seen him sad. I've seen the love he had for my mother and siblings and I. I saw him cry, unashamed, when his mother died. I've seen him argue with Mom, then I saw him make up with her. I've seen him raise children, myself included, and others who were not his own but whom he took into his heart without reservation.

Part of who I am is due to Mom. Part of me is due to my aunts and uncles and grandparents. Part of me is due to my own choices in my own life, my own mistakes, my own triumphs. And part of me, I am proud to say, is due to the lessons I learned from my father. Thank you, Daddy. You taught me that the strongest people are unafraid to be gentle, that the smartest people admit when they are wrong, that love is a gift one shares, that fear is nothing to be ashamed of, that work is a reward unto itself, and that life is made of little moments one can learn from. Every day, in every way, you will always be with me. If, at my own grave when death finally overtakes me, people proclaim that I was only half the man I knew you to be, then I will be damned proud!

On that day
When the clouds part ways
And I stand once more by your side,
When my deeds are weighed
Against the sins I've laid
I shall face that judgement with pride.
You taught me well
Though I sometimes fell,
From the standards you set for me.
All I have done
As your son,
An honor it was for me.

Thank you, dear readers, for allowing me this chance to grieve. Thank you.


First off, if you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be very useful. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days.

Dan's Music Page This is my promo page here at Aphelion. All the links below, and more information about the albums, are located here.

The Never Bank On A Learning Curve CD on the Create Space website. My first album, with a wide range of styles and genres, covering the past three years of my working with the MAGIX Music Maker programs.

The Second Helping CD on the Create Space website. My second album, with just as wide a range of different musical styles, showing just how much I've learned in the past three years.

Dan's Studio-D Page on the Bandcamp website. Digital downloads of the albums, or each individual song if you prefer it that way. Just click on the album cover thumbnails and you'll see a list of each song on the album. Next to the song titles are links to read the liner notes, or to download the individual song. You can listen to each song for free. There is also a link to download each entire album at one go. I cannot say enough about Bandcamp! This is an amazing website. I have Rob, and many other friends, to thank for finally talking me into checking it out.

Here are some links to pages I have up promoting my music. When my book comes out I'll add those links to the promotion page, too. So far, there are links on that page to the Create Space Preview songs, the Create Space page for each album, the Amazon.com listings, and the link to the digital downloads page.

And here's a link to my Sound Cloud page:

Dan's Sound Cloud Page where all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,

Dan all my music has been stored for your free listening pleasure. These are not as high a quality recordings as the ones on the CDs or on Bandcamp. But SoundCloud does have the virtue of having everything collected together in one place.

Check those links out, buy a CD or download if you like what you hear. And once again, thank you for your time,



Title: Hubble Sees a Cosmic Caterpillar   
[But to us here at Aphelion, it totally looks like the Doomsday Machine from Star Trek TOS.]
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and IPHAS