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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)

TITLE: The Promise
By Elizabeth Denny


The Promise

“Granny, I love you!” My words hung in the air, an unclaimed gift.
I leaned over, burying my face into her soft bosom, breathing in the familiar aroma of love. Tears spilled over my face, their warm caress bringing no comfort.
I raised my head and looked into her eyes. Focused and still, they stared sightlessly across the room. Her hand lay cradled in mine, still warm with the memory of life. The steady beep-beep of the heart monitor continued to echo, a deceptive anomaly, a pretense of life.
Slowly I walked over to the window and looked out at the mountains, their leaves just beginning to blush with color. A drizzling rain fell, liquid sorrow running in thin rivulets across the windowpane. Fog lay in a thick cloak across the valley and around the base of the mountains. It was early Sunday morning, the first in October, the Lord’s Day. Strains of worship music played softly in the background, my attempt to fashion peace in this cold place.
It was finally over, bittersweet knowledge, yielding both rest and grief. I looked back at her still form. Had it really been fifteen years? One third of my life, years I would never regain. Yet standing there, I knew if life were mine to live again, I would choose the same path.

We brought Granny home to live with us in January 1991 over the arguments of her doctor.
“Don’t do this,” he had said, “She won’t live six months.”
“For my Granny, I’ll stand on my head for six months,” was my reply.
And so, our new life began. Granny was given the girls’ room. Alison moved to the playroom and Crystal’s things were stored in cardboard boxes in backs of closets as she returned to college. A hospital bed was moved in and a hydraulic lift. Home health was called and early one foggy morning a tired aide with blond roots appeared to instruct us in “the proper way to bath a stroke patient.” I spent long hours bathing, turning, changing diapers, feeding, crying and praying. Lord, what had I done?
Classes at the university became my salvation, a legitimate reason to escape the horrific burden living in the girls’ room. Out of her small savings, I hired help, silently blessing her frugal ways. Days ran into weeks and weeks into months. The promise of a 6-month-deliverance faded. Money for help ran out.
Life settled into a routine. I rose early, before the sun’s rays climbed over the mountain or the patter of feet demanded attention. Slipping into Granny’s room, I rolled her over and woke her with a song; “Hello my honey, hello my baby, hello my sweetie pie.” My hands moved easily over her ancient skin, transparent as parchment paper. Rolling her to one side, I adjusted the catheter tube, untaped the soiled diaper and tenderly cleansed her skin. Warm oatmeal waited as I gently pried grasping fingers from the bedrail. Wash. Dry. Kiss. Powder. Lotion. Comb. Sing. Laugh. And so we lived. Eventually, I removed the catheter and sent it out with the trash, tied up in a Wal-Mart bag.
We bought a house. I started a home business. Life happened. Always there was Granny. We attended church in shifts. Performances, awards, vacations, always with one of us absent, left to care for Granny. The kids grew up, some married or left for school. I finished my degree. Grandchildren came. My brother died, and one niece. Mom lost her self, stolen by Alzheimer’s disease when we weren’t looking. Still I cared for Granny, bathing, changing, feeding, doctoring, and loving. Always loving. The work became natural, like carrying a sleeping child. Even though arms ache, you never consider laying it down. I often stood outside her door watching for the familiar rise and fall of the cover or the gentle pulse in the side of her neck. I was so afraid she would die and so afraid she would not. I spoke only of my love for her, shame covering the true weariness in my soul.
But nothing lasts forever and deliverance did come, for her and for me. Illness, mercifully short, a simple spot of pneumonia freed her soul and forgave my debt. The steady beep of the monitor grew silent. The doctor came in, a kind man with hollow cheeks and wiry eyebrows that sprouted above spotted glasses.
“You’ve done all you could,” he murmured.
And so I had.

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This article has been read 1091 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Michelle Tomars04/10/08
I thought this was well written.
Holly Westefeld04/10/08
You have much exquisite description in this bittersweet story of commitment.

Probably over-thinking things as I often do, I had difficulty adding up the family picture. She had cared for her grandma for 15 years, a third of her life, which would make her about thirty when she started. You mentioned two girls, one of whom was in college, but I don't know many 30-year-olds with a college age daughter. Perhaps she had more children? I was trying to figure out how two girls became "some" doing this and that later on.

Never mind my confusion on less than significant details. I really enjoyed the vivid images you painted here, especially at the beginning.
Deborah Cooke04/10/08
I love the style of your writing.
Joshua Janoski04/10/08
With writing like this, I don't think you will be in beginners for long.

I too got a bit confused on the time frame of events, but that didn't detract from the story.

You illustrated the pain that one sometimes goes through, both physically and emotionally, when taking care of an ill family member. It can be sad to let them go, but it also can be sad to see them alive and unable to function normally.

Awesome writing! :)
Lyn Churchyard04/10/08
The honest combination of love, guilt and relief so well written.

Very moving story - good job.
Dee Yoder 04/10/08
"Even though your arms ache, you never consider laying it down." This is such a bittersweet description of the life of the loving care-giver. What a blessing you were to your grandmother. I didn't have any trouble following your time line or character and I think this is a remarkable story of devotion and love.
Nana Bunch04/13/08
excellent story - nice progression of chronology. My only suggestion would be to double space between paragraphs and speakers - it makes for easier reading :) - keep up the good work!
Tanya Riley04/14/08
Absolutely awe inspiring.

This world so full of sorrow needs more patient, caring and all loving people like yourself. You truly were a blessing to your Grandmother.

God only gives us what we can handle, He knew you were a strong woman. God will surely bless you immensely.
Samantha Arroyo 04/14/08
You write beautifully. :]
Chely Roach04/17/08
Elizabeth~This was truly a masterful piece. Congratulations on your huge win!
Mandy White04/17/08
Congratulations on a well deserved win! I was really moved by this story. Excellent.
Kristen Hester04/17/08
Congrats! I, too, made EC from beginners and I will never forget the thrill of that day. Enjoy! Celebrate. this is great.
Sheri Gordon04/17/08
Congratulations on your EC! This is a beautiful piece.
Loren T. Lowery04/17/08
Wow! You definetly have a gift for writing...the honest beauty of this simply shines through. Congratulations on your well deserved placement. I don't think you will be in Level One for long. Look forward to seeing more of your work - Loren
Kristen Hester04/17/08
Hey girl! I tried to email you, but it didn't work. You can email me at kris10hester@hotmail.com

EC stands for Editor's Choice. Each story is scored and the 10 highest scores over all the levels make the editor choice list. The ten stories on the Editor's Choice list will be published in the book for the quarter. The books don't come out for a long time, but they are fun! You also have to move up a level when you place, so your next story will need to be submitted to Intermediate. Once you make it to advanced, you much have THREE Editor's Choice placings before moving to masters.

Have you visted the message boards? There are so many friendly people there and they are very helpful.

Let me know if I can help!

Debbie Wistrom04/17/08
Congratulations, so well deserved. You told of the burden and the joy with truth and I admire you for that and for your skill, KEEP WRITING!
Chrissi Dunn04/18/08
WOW - 2nd place overall from a beginner! This really is something! Very well deserved too. Your actions and attitudes towards your grandmother were so touching and tender. Congratulations!
Joanne Sher 04/18/08
This is amazing! Congratulations on a VERY well-deserved win. Wow.
LauraLee Shaw04/18/08
Congratulations on this phenomenal piece gaining and Editor's Choice! Well done!
Shayne Catoe04/19/08
To have done all you could do, that is a beautiful way to live.

Congratulations on a wonderfully written story. I had goose bumps and tears welling up. It touched me on a personal level as I lost my grandmother recently after helping my father care for her.

Continue to write from the heart.
Bonnie Shea04/20/08
Very well written, and feelings I'm sure many can relate to. Your love and care came through in your writing- good job!!
Catrina Bradley 04/23/08
Fabulous writing! I had no I idea this was a beginner level piece until I read the comments. Awesome work! Congratulations on your 1st in Beginners and your 2nd overall!!!!! :)