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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Day's End (01/01/14)

TITLE: A Case for Song
By Jules St. Jermaine


Bill stood at his small, round oak table moving stacks of papers from one location to another. Occasionally, he would stop, pick up a single sheet by its corners then lay it on a random pile. He referred to this activity as his, “work.” I knew the routine as, “Alzheimer’s.”

I watched from the doorway of his L- shaped Assisted Living room trying to decide how to dress him for the upcoming event.

“Hi dad,” I interrupted.

“Well, hello darling,” He replied, approaching me with a hug.

“Are you ready for your big night?” I asked.

“Big night? Am I going to have a big night?”

“You’re going to sing for your friends. Do you remember?”

“No, but I suppose I can do that. I like to sing.”

“I know you do. Maybe you could wear a sweater,” I suggested. “It’s as cold outside as your Air Force days in Greenland.”

He looked down, playing with his t-shirt; confused. I searched his closet for something without snags or balls.

“How about this nice blue one?” I asked, holding it up.

“I like my shirt,” He said, pinching it.

“The ladies will think you’re handsome in this one.” I said with enthusiasm.

“They will?”

“Yes sir, they sure will.”

I handed him the sweater. He walked over to his couch and put it down.

I walked over to the couch and picked it up.

“Hey dad, look at this beautiful sweater. You would look very nice in this.”

“I would?”

“Yes, you would.”

“Well, I guess I can wear it then.”

As I helped him dress, I noticed his once muscular arms had become thin. His face however, hadn't changed a lot. Now in his mid-seventies, he could easily pass for late fifties. In fact, people often commented on his young look. This presented some problems at the facility where he lived for he could charm himself right out the front door with well-meaning visitors. Today, I would be his escort.

“Well, it’s time for us to leave.” I said, helping him with his coat.

“It is?” Where are we going?”

“Someplace where you can sing.”

“I am?”

‘Yes, you are.”

“I like to sing.”

“Yes, you do.”

I buckled him into his seat belt, straightened his legs, rested his hands on his lap then closed the door.

“Where are we going?” he asked, nervous about leaving the one place he felt safe.

“I’m taking you to the Crystal Idol Contest. All your friends are going to be there. I think you will have a good time. I’ll bring you home in a little while.”

“Okay,” he said, wringing his hands.

Thirty minutes later I walked him into the Contest Room, taking our seats at center stage. He recognized his girlfriend. This seemed to relax him.

We waited as folks from the local news media arrived along with a woman who headed up the Department for Assisted Living in Michigan.

Sue, The Director of Fun, came on stage making introductions, kidded around a bit, then set the ball in motion for the talent to begin.

A father and son duo with matching vests sang, “A Bicycle Built for Two.” Three others sang various songs using sheet music. My dad was up next. He was one of the five finalist in the four week competition.

Sue invited him up on stage. I prompted him to go. He did the penguin walk to get there.

He took the microphone, paused, and then cleared his throat. With the talent of a professional Baritone, he began to sing, “God Bless America, land that I love,” by Irving Berlin. He didn't forget a word.

Tissues were pulled from purses as tears flowed freely. I felt so proud of my little dad.

As the judges went into another room to render their votes, a woman whispered to me that one of the ladies had just put her son on a plane headed for Afghanistan. She couldn't stop crying.

Sue returned, making the announcement that my dad had won the Crystal Idol Contest. He stood up. Everyone clapped. He nodded.

He sighed with relief upon returning home to his Assisted Living. As I prepared to leave he grabbed a picture frame which he handed to me. He said only two words, “Good man.” It was a picture of Jesus.

My dad was the first to introduce me to the Lord, and music. The day's end filled my heart like a favorite song.

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This article has been read 295 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/09/14
This is beautiful. You did a grand job of eloping your characters. I got a lump in my throat as I read and so admired the patience and love of the MC. What a wonderful example. If only all elderly people had that kind of support.

Remember if you're using Dad as a name, it becomes a proper noun and should start with a capital. Also okay should be written out or both letters capped OK.

You nailed the topic in a couple of different ways like the end of a day and the end of the parent she knew, and finally a glimmer of the end of this life. This shows what Alzheimers can do to a person as well as showing what unconditional love looks like. Outstanding job.
Jan Ackerson 01/09/14
As a Level 1 writer, you might not be aware of the free writing lessons available on the FaithWriters forums. This week’s lesson is on writing devotionals, and next week will cover writing on topic for the weekly challenge. Look for it at http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=67, or if you’re on Facebook, you can “like” Faithwriters Writing Lessons. I’d love to have your input into the conversation there!
C D Swanson 01/10/14
Oh my this gave me chills! I loved this entire piece, which resonated truth, so I'm thinking this is based on a true experience?

Having worked my entire career in the nursing home field, you've brought forward a realistic glimpse into the life of this "population" as well as what the family member goes through.

I would be thrilled with family members such as yourself, and so sad for those who didn't have the support and love from their own flesh and blood.

Thanks for sharing a strong entry that I feel will score very high on the judges list.

God bless~
Jan Ackerson 01/10/14
I love the way you used simple and repetitious dialog to demonstrate both the father's Alzheimer's disease and the narrator's patience. Very effectively done.

A minor mechanical matter--in sentences like this one:

“Well, hello darling,” He replied, approaching me with a hug.

...the word 'he' should be lower case, as it is in the middle of a longer sentence, and not the beginning of its own sentence. I believe you had two or three sentences like this.

I was very moved by the last several paragraphs, and I enjoyed this entry quite a bit.
Larry Whittington01/10/14
Good conversations tells it all.

Emotion builds as the climax draws near.

Nice piece.
Amelia Brown 01/12/14
Such a warm story. It has great flow and is captivationg from the beginning through to the end. I like the message being sent and the twist on the topic. Very well done, keep writing.
Sheldon Bass 01/14/14
For some of us this really strikes a familiar chord. It pulled me right in and brought back some very real memories. This is a wonderful piece of writing, and I think it will do well. Keep up the good work!
Dusty Fontaine01/15/14
You did a great job of showing the sadness of Alzheimer's without explaining it. The dialogue told it all.

It brought back memories of a man my wife watched for years. And now, I see my father's memory slipping away.

I truly enjoyed your piece. Minor errors will not lessen its message. Thanks for sharing.
lynn gipson 01/15/14
As a caretaker of someone with the beginning stages of dementia, I applaud this fine piece of writing. I also loved the way the MC talked to her father.

I find this story exceptional. Just beautiful, especially the picture of the "Good man" at the end.

Blessings, Lynn
Amelia Brown 01/16/14
Congratulations!!! Very deserving indeed.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/16/14
Congratulations on ranking 1srt in your level and 27 overall! (The highest rankings can be found on the message boards.)
Margaret Kearley 01/17/14
This is just wonderful and so very accurate in its description of those who are walking this road. Beautifully told and lovely to read. Very well deserving of its win. Thank you for sharing this.
Melinda Melton 01/21/14
This is wonderful. Congratulations on your 1st place win!