Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)
TITLE: Blue Should Have Been Her Color
By Colleen Heisdorf
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My Aunt Helen. Blue should have been her color. She was married to an alcoholic who didn’t provide for his family when men were supposed to be the providers. So she became a grocery store clerk and fed and clothed her two kids by herself, even cooked for them and cleaned for them while her husband drank. Then he suddenly ran off, left her, Nan, and Tom, and never came back. She burned her face while doing demonstrations for the Gas Company to supplement her store clerk income. After that, she was very sensitive to the sun and got sun stroke, more than once ending up in the hospital. Her only daughter, a former model and champion ice skater, became ill with cancer at age 34 and died within a year, leaving a four year old son without a mother. Then, 13 years later, Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer which spread to her bones and caused much pain. They put her on a morphine drip.
“Over the River and through the woods to Aunt Helen’s house we go . . .” Every Thanksgiving, dad would gather all of us six kids’ boots and put them in the car top carrier before we went some 60 miles north to Aunt Helen’s three bedroom upper flat for a day which truly made us thankful. “Just in case it snows,” he would say as we anxiously waited for him to hurry up so we could get going. Even grandma, on my mom’s side of the family, was welcome. After an hour of driving and singing, we finally arrived. Always parking on the street and entering through the back door, we would stand at the bottom of her steep, steep, stairs as she opened the door above and warmly welcomed us. “Hello-o-o, Mary, hello-o-o everyone. How good to see you all!” It was as if we were going up to heaven. That’s how her stairs and her warm welcome made it seem. Hugs and kisses followed after we ascended, along with a long day of love and laughter, full stomachs, and a thorough search through the toy catalog by each of us. This was so Aunts Helen and Viola could get a wish-list from us and then shop for their nieces and nephews for Christmas presents.
During the summertime, the three oldest girls would come back and stay for a couple days at Aunt Helen’s. Often we’d play hide-and-seek, running to and fro, under beds, into hidden closets, the tub,the attic,or any number of special hiding places. Aunt Helen didn’t care. She laughed heartily, seeing us having fun.
Never an unkind word did she utter to anyone. Never a despairing word either. Never did she think of herself before others. Even when the produce at the store was too old to sell, she often found others, even more unfortunate than herself, to give it to. When her daughter took ill, she came over to her house and helped take care of her and her little grandson until Nan died. Then, when she herself took ill, she willingly went into a nursing home where, though in pain, never ceased to have a kind word to say to everyone - family, friends, doctors, pastors, and aides; always asking how they were.
The only blue in my Aunt Helen was her baby blues which sparkled every time you saw her. She had the love and joy of God deep within her heart. The strength of the Lord, too. Psalm 118:14, NIV, says, “The Lord is my strength and song; he has become my salvation.” This was the truth that she lived out during the 79 years she was given by God to live on this earth. Maybe blue should have been her color. But it wasn’t.
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