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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Spam (not the meat) (11/03/11)

TITLE: Doris
By Jackie Smithwick


The year was 1981. Our lives were suddenly changed. Our days were filled with trips to the hospital in Atlanta to visit my sister-in-law, Marjorie. She was the baby of four children in my husband’s family. She was beautiful, successful, independent and only a couple of years younger than me. I thought I knew her pretty well because of our close age, but found out later that I really didn’t know her at all.

It was a terrible car accident that left Marjorie laying in the bed with tubes and wires attached to her body. We clung to a rope of hope daily as doctors gave us news of what their next step would be in the attempt to bring her back. They placed a stint in the back of her head to release the pressure. They were giving her calories that would give her strength to fight. But as the week progressed, our rope turned to a thread and broke when the doctors said she was brain dead.

Marjorie left this world on her mother’s birthday.

Not long after the funeral, my sister-in-law, Donna and I went to pack up Marjorie’s things and to prepare her home for sale. It was a very sad experience to go through her belongings. Diaries of a younger Marjorie broke my heart and helped me to understand her so much better. Clothes, jewelry, and pictures were carefully packed away.

While going through the pictures, I noticed several of her friends that I didn’t know, and that was no surprise, but the pictures of a baby and then one of a small child caught my eye. A note was on the back of one that read, “She is doing good, thank you so much.”

“Could Marjorie have had a child?” I asked my husband.

He asked his older sister, and she admitted that she had once suspected that Marjorie had a child and gave it up for adoption. There was no proof, only hints here and there. This was a time for grieving, and since there was no tangible evidence we abandoned the idea.


I wish I had never entered all those silly contests. Now my email was full of offers and advertisements. Free business cards - delete. Credit counseling - delete. Better insurance rates - delete. Find lost loved ones - de....de...... Something said wait, but should I? Oh what the heck, why not give it a try.

I entered all the information I could remember about Marjorie and her child. I paid the fee and prayed and left it in God’s hands. It had been 30 years since Marjorie passed. I knew this was a long shot, but I would never know if I didn’t try.

The email came, a meeting was set, and we got to meet Doris, the young woman of whom we believed to be our niece.

After introductions to other family members, and much, sometimes heated, discussion the decision to take Doris to meet her grandmother was made.

We were not sure it would be wise, because my frail mother-in-law lay in a nursing home in the last stages of alzheimer’s disease. We knew she would probably not even know who this woman was. And yet, because of the desires of Doris, the rest of the family agreed.

It was a glorious fall day as we walked silently toward the nursing home building. We were a large group for visitation that day. It was me, my husband, his brother and his wife, and his older sister, and Doris.

Mixed emotions filled our hearts and anxiety filled the air as we walked the halls toward Joyce’s room. She was awake when we walked in and she seemed to be clearer that we had seen her in a while. She looked up at Doris and with a smile that had been missing for years, she whispered, “Marjorie.”

Tears flowed from mine and the eyes of all the others, but Joyce and Doris did not cry. They only stared at one another with beautiful smiles as they held hands.

It was only a few days later that Joyce went on to be with her Lord. I’m sure she is praising Him and spending time with Marjorie and talking a lot about Doris.

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This article has been read 285 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 11/17/11
This touched my heart! What a poignant and loving story. Oh my gosh!

I really enjoyed it. Thank you. God Bless you~
Helen Curtis11/18/11
Is this a true story?! I really hope so, it's just beautiful. I find it amazing that God uses even the 'junk mail' of our world to achieve His will! Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/19/11
This is a interesting story. It was realistic and I wondered if it is true.

It seems a little weak on topic. I felt the main point of the story would have been the same if you had left out the paragraph about email.

It was a touching story and tugged at my heart strings. It made me stop and wonder what my family will discover about me when I die.
Jenna Dawn11/23/11
This is a sweet story. I also wondered if it was true. I could totally relate to the multiple visits to the hospital, only to be told, eventually, that the patient is brain dead. This happened to my uncle.

In the following sentence, the placement of commas confused me.

"After introductions to other family members, and much, sometimes heated, discussion the decision to take Doris to meet her grandmother was made."

Having commas around "and much" sets it apart, as if it means something all by itself. I think leaving the first comma out fixes this problem. Then it feels that punctuation is needed after "discussion", yet another comma would confuse things.

There are two options to consider, which include hyphens and/or ellipses. Here are two examples.

"After introductions to other family members and much, sometimes heated, discussion … the decision to take Doris to meet her grandmother was made."

"After introductions to other family members and much-sometimes heated-discussion, the decision to take Doris to meet her grandmother was made."

This was a touching story. God bless you!
Deborah Rampona Oliver 11/26/11
I was fascinated by this story and want to know if it is true. That said, I think there might have been a more fluid way to transition from when she died and the email searching for a lost loved one. It was a bit jolting. It was compelling though and really caught my interest.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/01/11
Congratulations for ranking 6th in level 2!
Jackie Smithwick12/02/11
Thank you to everyone who commented on this article. The constructive criticism is most welcome and I will take it to heart.

I wish this story was completely true, however only the first half is. There was not enough information to accomplish the desired and often dreamed of ending.