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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Time (11/15/12)

TITLE: Ten Tender Weeks: The Countdown
By Carolyn Ancell
~2nd Place


Ten Tender Weeks: The Countdown

10. Time stops. My brother's midnight call says it all. "Mom collapsed. She died twice on the operating table. They found advanced cancer. Only a few weeks left."
9. Time evaporates. Brad and I have been on opposite sides of the country for the past 30 years. Now we sit on opposite sides of Mom's bed in the ICU. Long-forgotten songs of childhood--sung while up to our elbows in dish soap after dinner--rise to the surface, and we sing them again, softly, making up the harmonies as we go along. Just like so long ago.
8. Time re-opens. Mom is off the ventilator! She has made it back to us, for now. She smiles. And whispers, "Bring oranges from the tree, and the juicer. The nurses have been so kind."
7. Time is redefined. "These are being the best days of my life!" says Mom. My brother and I, incredulous, ask, "Why?" "Because both my children are here with me."
6. Time is spent. Mom works, seemingly every minute, with every breath and every ounce of energy, to walk to the nursing home bathroom, holding on to the wall for support. She has been told that when she can manage the return trip, she can go home.
5. Time slows. Mom is sprung from the nursing home. Returns home to the hospital bed we have set up for her in the living room next to the sliding glass door. She can see the patio, the sun, the trees. The cat sits on her bed. The hospice worker teaches me how to give Mom a bed bath. Mom loves it when I do, and tells me that when she used to bathe me as a baby, I was "wiggly."
4. Time melts. Day morphs into night, night into day. The endless round of medications continues 24 hours. At 2 a.m. one morning, Mom cries out. Says she needs a suppository for pain. In true Mom style, she directs, "Tell your brother to hold the flashlight. You put it in."
3. Time fills with grace. I move Mom (and oxygen, and IV, and pillows) from bed to wheelchair to car, and drive us to a nearby beach. We sit in the car and watch the sun rise. Mom says, "Thank you so much." As if she is the one who has been favored.
2. Time comes to a still point. Our wheelchair journeys are closer to home now. Today, we make it to the dining room and the table overlooking Mom's garden. I make cappuccino, and put it in one of Mom's fragile flowered tea cups. She manages a few sips, noting that, "My Bird of Paradise is blooming," before asking to be taken back to bed. She sleeps, waking later to proudly announce to my brother, "I drank my cappuccino in the living room."
1. Time opens into eternity. Waking on the couch next to Mom's bed, I hear the labor in her breathing. I rouse my brother. "It's time." We sit on opposite sides of her bed, holding her hands, thanking her over and over again for her love, assuring her we will take care of each other. Her breathing quiets, and she slips away. Into timeless eternity and never-ending love.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Christina Banks 11/23/12
This brought tears to my eyes.
Jack Taylor 11/23/12
Having just gone through this with two members of our church and facing it with a family member now this was like seeing it all again in black and white.
Hiram Claudio11/26/12
This was so wonderful. Well crafted and it flows so easily yet was gripping and held the reader from start to finish. You took us on a journey through intimate moments in your life. Thank you for bringing us along!
C D Swanson 11/27/12
This touched me and will many others. Thanks.
God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/27/12
Wow what a powerful piece. I felt like I was there with you every step along the way. You have a beautiful way with words and this is a loving and well-written tribute.
Christina Banks 11/29/12
Congratulations on your well deserved placement. It brings tears to my eyes each time I read through it.
Margaret Kearley 11/29/12
This is just so beautiful. What a wonderful and precious Mum. All of this is written with such tenderness, particularly 3. I love your two phrases 'Time fills with grace' and 'time opens into eternity.' Wonderful writing. Many congratulations.
Francy Judge 11/29/12
Congratulations! Tears came by the time I reached one. Beautiful writing with honest emotions.
Myrna Noyes11/29/12
Oh, wow! This story is incredibly moving, and even more so to me because I went through something similar to this with my mother. I went home to care for her in her dying weeks from cancer, so I can really relate. I love how time transformed during each of the "ten tender weeks," and the ending, despite its sadness, was filled with hope. Beautiful piece and so deserving of its high honors this week! WAY TO WRITE!!
Noel Mitaxa 11/29/12
Congratulations on your well-deserved win. You have captured so many emotions in this story, while skilfully setting them free in our hearts and minds. It's brought back memories of my parents' deaths, and of many experiences of grief throughout my ministries. Great work.
Bea Edwards 11/29/12
Lovely, bittersweet story of tragedy bringing reconciliation.
Well deserved win.
Beth LaBuff 11/29/12
Oh, there's so much emotion packed in this. What a beautiful tribute to your mother. I'm so pleased to see this recognized with an Editor's Choice award.
Raymond Dickerson11/29/12
Ellen Carr 12/03/12
Congratulations on your 2nd place win. This is beautifully written and extremely moving. Thank you for sharing this.
Catherine Craig 02/10/13
I can hardly read this; way too close to home. Effective format. Thank you.