Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)
TITLE: Slideshow of Memories
By Tessy Fuller
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A snap shot of a burly man in a plain white shirt showcasing bright red suspenders dissolved into her pupils. Each year a secret meeting of the cousinhood would gather behind the shelter house scheming against Uncle Stu. An elaborate plan was sketched out on the backs of several white paper napkins. The mission each year was to capture Uncle Stu’s hat. The goal was to get the hat to the top of the highest tree in the park. Some how each year Uncle Stu was always fooled by our antics to distract him and the hat was successfully swiped from his balding head.
Sarah reached down to get the last sip of her diet coke and caught a glimpse of herself smiling at the fond memory.
The mirage of one baldhead merged into another as she saw the crooked smile of her Grandpa Johnnie. Grandpa Johnnie was the only adult who had the power to bring the childhood shenanigans under wraps. Sarah recalled sitting around the faded recliner straining to hear every detail. Grandpa had a way of spellbinding curious minds with tales of the good ol’ days. Sarah wondered if he would be there, if Aunt Carol would bring him from the nursing home.
Aunt Carol had the biggest heart of anyone Sarah knew. The smell of freshly baked apple pie seemed to winnow from the air conditioning vents as Sarah pictured her adorned in her apple-patterned apron buzzing through the kitchen. Aunt Carol had an extraordinary gift of making sure you knew you were important. If any other adult happened to be milling in the kitchen, anyone under 3 foot tall would be quickly shooed away. Aunt Carol was different. Sarah remembered the many times she was encouraged to pull up a chair and deemed the official taste-tester.
Sarah glanced at the digital numbers on the console. Even with the road construction she had driven through she was still making good time.
It had been several years since Sarah had seen her cousins from the coast. Her mom had told her they would be flying in as she tried to convince Sarah to return. Sarah didn’t need to be convinced. Her mother didn’t realize how much she missed seeing the extended family. Sarah put on her turning signal when she spotted the sign for the Lone Tree exit. Nervously she tapped on the steering wheel as she drove through the familiar streets. Would she even recognize Nicole? Would Nicole recognize her? She glanced down at her waist and sighed at the wrinkles furrowing her brow as she took a quick glimpse of herself in the rearview mirror. Would they even have anything to talk about? The grapevine had harvested that Nicole was married and had two boys. Sarah glanced at her bare ring finger. Her years of medical school seemed to pale in the comparison to being a mother. Would Nicole remember the time they had pricked each other’s fingers, joining them together in a courageous pledge to always stick by each other’s side?
Sarah recognized her mother’s car as she pulled up. She took one last look in the mirror and reminded herself to remember why she was here. Today wasn’t about Nicole and the fleet of other relatives she hadn’t seen in ages. Today was a day to celebrate a life that was well lived in a pair of red suspenders. Sarah thought of her Uncle Stu and smiled. As she walked past Hutton and McElwain Funeral Home sign her heart was tinged with chords of sadness. When had their family reunions turned into funerals?
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