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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Confused (08/16/07)

TITLE: Through a Glass Darkly
By Pamela Kliewer


Lace curtains fluttered gently, stirred by the breeze coming from the window where the elderly woman sat. Sounds of children’s voices rang with laughter, causing her to turn her head and look out the window. Her rheumy eyes beheld the velvety green grass and large oak tree where she used to spend many hours herself as a child. She couldn’t see very clearly, but she knew her great grand children now played where she had once been so happy as a child, spending hours in the tree house her father had built for her and her many siblings.

Suddenly she was young again, sitting in the tree house with her sisters, their dolls joining them for a tea party. It was grand fun to have a tea party so high up from the ground. She could see the ocean far out in the distance spreading its bluish green blanket, white lacey foam hitting the hot sand to cool it.

Looking down at her hands, she was shocked to see how old they looked. Her skin was wrinkled and paper-thin, the veins prominent. How could it be that she had such old hands when she was so young? Rising with difficulty from the rocking chair, she walked over to the dresser. She wanted to see her face. She knew she was young, but seeing herself in the looking glass would prove it. She needed that reassurance.

What she saw shocked her more than her hands had. She expected to see smooth skin, tinged with a pink glow. Instead, she saw wrinkled, yellowed skin. What had happened to her? Did she age overnight? She made her way back to the rocking chair, wondering why she had had such a hard time getting up and why she was having trouble making her way back now.

Rocking slowly back and forth, her mind racing, she began to cry. Tears ran down her cheeks, and she could do nothing to stop them.

“Grandma? Are you okay?” a sweet voice, heavy with concern, interrupted her thoughts.

She looked up. “Emily!” It was her sister. She wiped at her tears with the back of her hand. Everything was alright now. They could go out and play. But wait, why had she called her Grandma? Was Emily confused? She looked down at her hands again, remembered her face in the mirror.

Emily was talking to her. “Grandma, it’s me, Susan, your grand daughter. Emily has been home with Jesus awhile now.”

She had a grand daughter? Emily was dead? Oh dear. Her eyes again filled with tears. Her heart beat a fast rhythm and she could hardly breathe. What did all this mean?

The young woman who called herself Susan came over to her and grabbed hold of her hands, looking her deep in the eyes. “Grandma? Should we pray?”

That always worked. Prayer. Yes, they should pray. She nodded her consent.

As ‘Susan’ prayed, her mind wandered this way and that, baffled and feeling so alone. But wait - what was ‘Susan’ praying? Something about God never leaving or forsaking us. If that was true, and she remembered it was, because she knew God’s presence many times in her life, then she wasn’t really alone. God was with her now in the midst of this confusion.

Susan finished praying and the look she gave her was full of love. She didn’t quite know what to make of that, but she smiled and hoped she was giving a look of love back.

“Everything is going to be okay, Grandma. You just got a bit confused today. I’ll stay right here with you for awhile.”

“Can we have a tea party in the tree house, Emily? I would like that so much. I’m tired of being indoors.”

‘Susan’ looked confused. “I don’t know Grandma, I don’t know if you can make it up there.”

“I can do it!” she said, her voice strong and vibrant.

“Okay, I’ll get some things ready.” ‘Susan’ said, as she got up and left the room.

“Oh, How beautiful!” the old woman exclaimed. Her eyes took in the splendor of the ocean, which she hadn’t seen in so long, and yet - it seemed like it was just yesterday. Her eyes glistened with tears as she looked at her hands. How could she be so old when her heart felt so young? She looked out at the ocean again, her heart lifting in song...

“Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder…”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Laurie Walker08/23/07
What a powerful insight into what, I think, we all dread might happen (I know I frequently become shocked at what I see in the mirror :) ). And yet, she also seemed so happy being once again in those memories.

I truly felt her confusion. You brought her to life for me. Thank you.
Jan Ackerson 08/24/07
Even though lots of people have written on Alzheimers this week, this story really stands out with its bittersweet approach. Excellent in every way.
Kate Grey08/26/07
Lovely story... you wrote beautiful memories and such a special granddaughter.
PF Davids08/26/07
First of all, very well written. Excellent concept. To make it more powerful, I'd start with her being confused from the beginning. Drop the suddenly she was a child again part. "Grow" the reader into understanding what is happening. That makes it more dramatic.

The other suggestion is to find a more compelling ending. Finishing with the song is nice, don't get me wrong, but could be even more effective.

Still, I really enjoyed the story. You have a great writing future ahead of you!
Joanne Sher 08/26/07
This is just wonderful. You have done an amazing job of painting the confusion here. I felt like I WAS this woman. Just superb.
Julie Ruspoli08/26/07
Such a lovely story. Very well written. Good job!
Colin Swann08/27/07
Great Writing! Every success for the future. Thank you.
Dee Yoder 08/28/07
So well written. I especially like the characters you created. Though there are many stories about Alzheimer's this week, I agree that this one is really special. Many others were able to capture something different about this disease, and you also have presented a unique voice. Well done!
Joy Faire Stewart08/28/07
You have captured the heartbreak of Alzheimer's and also aging. Your writing is excellent.
Rita Garcia08/28/07
WOW! As Jan said, "perfect in every way!"
Jenny Fitch08/29/07
You did a nice job of describing the confusion of her disease. Easy to read writing style. Good job.
Loren T. Lowery08/29/07
In a word, this was beautiful. It was so tender and respectful is so many ways. I especially liked the granddaughter...it looks as if the apple didn't fall to far from the tree. Great job and I hope to see this place!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/29/07
Your descriptions here are just superb. I loved your story.
Lynda Schultz 08/29/07
Well done. I was curious as to how Susan was going to resolve the problem of the tree house, etcetera. If she's as creative as you are, everything will turn out just fine.
Myrna Noyes08/30/07
Pamela, I agree with the others that this is just a beautifully written piece! You captured the confusion of the woman so well, and your title is perfect! The story is very touching and flowed extremely well. You enabled me to "see" and even feel from the woman's perspective. It is now my very favorite of all your pieces so far! Excellent writing! :)