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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: Ghost Notes
By Hope Horner


"Thanks for the note." My mom whispered into my ear and then kissed me on the cheek. I stirred only slightly. As usual, she patted the covers up under my chin before tip-toeing slowly out of my room. Her white nurses uniform made her look like a ghost floating in the darkness.

My mom worked the night shift at the local hospital as an LVN - a licensed vocational nurse which was “one step down from RN” as she described it. After dinner each night, she would head off in her pristine white uniform and polished white rubber shoes to make rounds, administer medicine, and take patient temperatures. When I woke up in the morning, Dad would pour me a bowl of cereal and get me off to school while Mom was sleeping. During dinner time, and on her days off were really the only time I saw her.

And that’s when the notes started.

Before I would go to bed, I would carefully craft a note for my mom. Sometimes, I would draw a picture of a rainbow or a yellow smiley face with a big "Welcome home Mom!" in the middle. Other times, I would write a few sentences about my day at school, telling her how I did in my English class or how my soccer practice went. Night after night, I would leave each note propped up on the kitchen table between the napkin holder and the Flintstones vitamins where I knew she would see it when she got home. I never missed a night. Sometimes, she would write back with a “Great job on that test!” Or an “I love you, too!” in the perfect penmanship she had mastered filling out technical hospital paperwork.

I knew she hated working the graveyard shift. I knew it pained her to miss so much of her child’s life. And I also knew that there was no other way. We were as poor as church mice and sometimes my mom’s income was all we had to count on. I missed her greatly.

When I reached high school, she was able to leave nursing and go into teaching which meant I was able to see her more often. The notes stopped. The nights of creating and discovering those rainbow and word filled pages were behind us now. Mom was there when I got home. She was there when I got up. She was at my soccer games. Even though as a pimply, moody teenager I pushed her away sometimes, she was there.

In the early 90’s, when I had just graduated from college, my parents moved from Northern to Southern California. As a result, I inherited boxes and boxes of stuff from my childhood – ribbons, trophies, newspaper clippings, old report cards and stuffed animals. I lugged them in my SUV to a storage facility for safe-keeping. One summer afternoon, I decided to go through them and drove down to the facility. The first box I opened was filled with high school and junior high trophies, pictures and mementos. I laughed at the photos of me with teased bangs and neon 80’s clothing.
When I sliced open the next box and peeled back the flaps, I froze. I couldn't believe it. Inside, piled one upon the other, were all the notes I had given my mom. On top of the pile was a piece of white paper on which was written:

“To my precious daughter - It was these little notes of love that got me through all those long nights at the hospital. Thank you.”

It’s what got me through too, Mom.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Dolores Stohler01/18/07
This was so sweet! My eyes are teary. Thanks for sharing.
Joanne Sher 01/20/07
So compelling and lovely and wonderful. I truly loved this piece!
Marilyn Schnepp 01/20/07
Loved this story! Such a sweet and sentamental story of mother and daughter. Kept me interested from beginning to end...with a little tear dropping at the finish. Great job. Well written.
Marty Wellington 01/20/07
Excellent. Catchy title and wonderful attention to details like the Flintstones vitamins and 80s clothes. Kept my attention all the way through. Thanks for sharing.
Jen Davis01/21/07
Such a touching story. I loved that the mother had written a note and left it on top of all the others. The final sentence ended the story beautifully. Great job!