Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
- TITLE: The Things Grandpa Never Told Sylvia
By Ifeoma Dennis
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Ten-year old Sylvia noticed that Grandpa smiled a lot to himself these days and wondered why.
One day as she cleaned up the living room, she asked him why.
Grandpa gave out a long, weak throaty laughter that Sylvia thought he’d never reply.
“Aging is a crazy phenomenon,” he told her.
“By phenomenon, I mean a kind of event..”
“I get it Grandpa,” she chimed in.
“Patience, my child,” Grandpa went on.
“Aging creeps up on you and it’s kind of funny when you remember the way you were before as you look at yourself now.
I drove from Iyienu to Ibadan in the early fifties a couple of times. It’s about two thousand miles. Now, I can’t even control a car.”
“But I don’t know any eighty-five year old that drives,” Sylvia said.
“If they aren’t in their graves.. yet.”
There were other things that amused Grandpa that he didn’t tell Sylvia, like the fact that he who represented his village at the State Sports Competition in 1936 had to lean on his staff to walk alone if he didn’t want assistance from other people.
Sometimes Grandpa had a distant look on his face and Sylvia wondered why.
One day as she played with her kid sister, Gaby and saw Grandpa replay that look, she asked him why.
“It’s nothing, my child. Just that we all make mistakes and I wonder if God has forgotten all about them, especially those ones we can do nothing to correct now. “
There were bigger things that made Grandpa frown that he did not tell Sylvia, like agreeing with Grandma to marry off their last daughter, Molly in 1983 to that smiling man who turned out to be a brutal wife-beater that he beat the sense out of her and succeeded in alienating Molly from her family.
What pained him the most was that Molly had not liked the man from the get-go, but she had married him out of respect for them.
They had tried establishing contact with Molly over the years but the effort was so futile that they didn’t even have her phone number.
“But we’re taught in Sunday School that God always forgives us our sins just the way our earthly daddies forgive us when we annoy them.” Sylvia jumped into his thoughts.
Grandpa smiled. He was a priest [although he hardly preached sermons these days, no doubt they all thought he was going senile as well], how could he have forgotten this simple proof of God’s Love?
The more Grandpa thought about Sylvia’s words as he reflected on his life, the more he smiled to himself.
One day, Grandpa called Sylvia and Gaby to his side.
“Do you know this song?” he asked them.
“Shoot Grandpa,” they answered.
Grandpa’s voice came out in a shaky but nevertheless great bass tone.
“Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou has died,
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious bleeding side.”
The girls joined in the familiar chorus.
“I especially like the last stanza,” Grandpa told them as they sang out their voices to the heavens. “I can’t remember the lines now though; can you look them up for me in a hymn book?”
Sylvia and Gaby looked at themselves and grimaced.
“Aww, the hymn books are in mum’s room and she’s out!”
“Ok. Another day then.”
Sadly for Sylvia and Gaby, and indeed everyone else that cared, Grandpa died two Sundays later in his house with Grandma by his side.
Everyone listened to Grandma talk of how Grandpa had told her just a day before to hurry up as the Bishops were waiting for him at the gate, but it didn’t stop Sylvia from crying.
She had wanted to do so many things for her Grandpa when she grew up.
During the 8th year memorial service for Grandpa, Sylvia heard the choir sing a long-lost familiar tune.
”There are depths of love that I cannot know,
Till I cross the narrow sea,
There are heights of joy that I may not reach,
Till I rest in peace with Thee.
Draw me nearer...”
Sylvia’s heart leapt with great joy at the sudden wave of understanding engulfing her.
There may have been many things that Grandpa did not tell her but this one thing she knew now;
In the twilight years of his life, Grandpa saw not the dusk, but the dawn.
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