Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)
TITLE: Chasing Rainbows
By Venice Kichura
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Jenna’s heart soared. <i>Guess I have at least one talent even though my cooking skills don’t measure up.</i>
“We have enough garbage,” her father-in-law Walt muttered from the living room.
Her heart sank. <i>Garbage? That’s what he thinks about my artwork?</i> She was also crushed her mother-in-law hadn’t even bothered to show the painting to her husband.
His name may Walter R. Chandler but the “R” stood for “rude” as far as she was concerned.
Jenna held back her tears and tongue, pretending not to have overheard.
“Here’s something practical we picked up for you kids,” Walt said, walking into the kitchen. “Coat hangers.”
Jenna mumbled a weak, “Thanks”, counting the final minutes ‘til her unappreciative in-laws drove back home.
They grabbed their suitcases and Jenna gave them both a mechanical hug as they said their goodbyes. Her blood pressure slowly returned to normal as they drove away.
“Don’t let Dad bother you,” her husband Burt said, knowing she overheard his father’s thoughtless remarks.
“Mom loved the painting. And Dad. Well, he’s just Dad. He didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Weeks later the phone rang as Jenna was painting a Winnie the Pooh wall mural for the nursery for their soon-to-be adopted baby.
“How’s my favorite daughter-in-law? Still chasing rainbows?”
She thought about the Winnie the Pooh rainbow and wanted to reply, “Funny you should ask. I’m painting one right now.”
But instead she said flatly, “Hi Dad. I’ll get your son.”
A year later her mother-in-law died suddenly. Jenna felt convicted about how she’d ignored her father-in-law, now a grief-stricken widower, and vowed to change her attitude toward him. At the funeral she fumbled for words to comfort him. Flying home she determined to never let his thoughtless remarks get to her again.
Once home they were greeted with more bad news. The birth mother of the baby they’d planned to adopt had changed her mind. Jenna disassembled the empty crib, packed up the baby blankets, and other nursery items, along with her oil paints, storing them in the bedroom closet, converting the room back into a guest bedroom. Sighing, she glanced at the wedding portrait she’d try to give her in-laws.
<i>Time to stop chasing rainbows and get a fulltime job,</i>she thought, dusting off her college diploma. Guess motherhood isn’t God’s plan for me.</> But she couldn’t bring herself to paint over the Winnie the Pool mural. </i>Just maybe some day?</i>
Six months later her father-in-law came for a visit. Determined to put his thoughtless comments behind her and comfort him, she vowed to befriend him, although she still yearned for his acceptance.
She tried to bond but nothing worked. All he did was cry and talk about his saintly late wife, thinking he was comparing her to her late mother-in-law.
She was also angry at her husband for working late even when his dad was in town. Here she was, alone all day, with this man who had nothing in common with her.
When he wasn’t comfortable in the upstairs guest bedroom, he moved himself into the former baby room/art studio where her paintings were stored in the closet.
“I can’t take another comment about my chasing rainbows,” she sighed aloud staring at her rainbow mural. <i>Wish I’d painted over the it….Maybe my work is garbage? Time to give up my freelance artwork and find a real job…</I>
But it was too late. Dad had already moved himself in.
One afternoon she found him on his bunk bed in tears as he clutched Jenna’s painting to this chest. It was the wedding picture she’d tried to give them. This touched me,” he said, fresh tears streaming down his time-worn face. “A masterpiece! I feel as if my dear Ruth is watching over me as I gaze into her sapphire green eyes.
“It’s yours, Dad. You’re just a little late in getting it.”
“Not late at all, my dear; this gift came just at the right time.”
Then pointing to the Winnie the Pooh rainbow mural, he said, “Don’t give up. You’ll be a wonderful mom someday.”
“And,” he added, “keep painting those rainbows.”
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