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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: His Eye is on the Sparrow
By Marilee Alvey


“My little sparrow,” he’d called her. Betty seemed so tiny, so fragile, now, that it seemed more fitting than ever.

“Louie, where did my baby go?” she fretted, peering into the photo.

“Precious, he grew up. That’s Sean.”

“But where’d that baby go? ” she sobbed, clutching the photo.

“Betty, that photo is nothing but a shadow. That baby’s not here, but he’s not lost. He’s just changed. He’s now your grown up son, Sean. This photo was a promise given by God of better things to come.”

“Louie, I’m scared.”

“Sweetheart,” he said, cupping her cheeks tenderly with his hands, “I know.” Louie saw the familiar look come into Betty’s eyes. Her constantly scanning brain had just switched channels.

“Someone took my laundry basket, Louie. I can’t find it anywhere. Do you think that man took it?”

“Which man?”

“Oh, you know, that one…. YOU know his name…”

“Betty, your laundry basket is right there on the dryer.”


Louie took both her hands in his. “Betty, do you know I love you?” (Lord, let that memory be the last to be erased.)

“Louie, where’s my laundry basket? Did you take it?”

“Betty, let’s go out for ice cream. We used to do that. Remember?”

She didn’t answer. A detestable thing chomped away at her brain, daily, severing connections without care. He loathed it. He’d been forced to watch, daily, as it eroded the link between her thoughts and her sight, bringing a fleeting, vacant stare that would eventually become permanent.

“What’s your favorite flavor?”

“Oh, you know….”

He’d no longer push her to find answers that she couldn’t find.

“Okay. Let’s go.”

Louie held the door open and waited as Betty turned back, unconsciously locking the door to their life together. He faced into the breeze, willing it to dry his eyes.

“Betty, did you know that this is our fifty-sixth anniversary?” She didn’t reply.

As he drove with Betty beside him, he remembered a long ago groom impossibly in love. She’d worn a navy wool suit with a matching hat perched jauntily on long, blonde wavy hair that held shimmers from heaven nestled in their strands. To ever leave her would have been unimaginable: losing her, he’d be nothing but an abandoned plant shoved into a small, dark closet. Glancing over, he now saw a seventy-eight year old lost soul. Her locks now seemed to duplicate the dullness in her eyes. Tragically, her remarkably healthy body could now carry her dependably into whatever dangerous situations her brain might concoct.

After arriving, Louie opened her door. “Come out, sparrow.” As he grasped her hand to help her out, his fingers met with her burn-scarred fingertips. He winced. Three weeks before, she’d taken dinner out of the oven without a potholder.

“Is this the ice cream store?”

“Yes. Come, dear.”

Taking her hand, he guided her toward the Alzheimer’s care unit. Lord, he thought, how do I walk away without her?

Walking in, arm in arm, they entered the lobby to see their family and friends holding flowers and balloons. “Surprise!” they shouted. Betty scarcely reacted.

Her sons came up for hugs, one by one, careful to say their names.

“Hi, mom! Happy Anniversary! I’m Tom.”

“Happy Anniversary, Mom! I’m Drew.”

“I’m Sean. Happy Anniversary, Mom!”

Betty seemed distant and confused.

The party drained him, yet he wished it would never end. As the last guest left, he gently turned Betty around to face him.

“Sweetheart, I have found a brand new place for you. I hope you like it.”

“Louie, don’t leave…” She whimpered and shook.

“Betty, don’t worry! I’ll stay and tuck you in…and you can be sure that I’ll be here early for breakfast. Come on,” he urged, “let’s pretend we’re walking down the aisle…”
It was a game they’d played on every anniversary, but, this time, it carried them toward a separate future.

He walked out into the night…alone. My little lost Sparrow, he thought. Seated in the car, he turned on the interior light. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a photo taken of him and Betty at the party earlier that evening. She’s not there, he thought. She’s lost. Laying his head on the steering wheel, he began to sob, then suddenly stopped. Putting the photo down, Louie recalled Sean’s baby picture and found something on his face that had become very foreign to him: a smile, giving him the needed strength to drive away.

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This article has been read 1211 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betty Castleberry04/26/07
This is so very touching. You've captured what it is like dealing with Alzheimer's patients. My own father had Alzheimer's, and I can see a lot of him here. I can't emphasize enough how we should honor and respect our seniors. We never know when one of them may be taken from us, either by the Lord or through a devastating disease. This was a remarkable piece. I happen to like the name of your MC, too. ;0)
Mo 04/26/07
The ending made me teary.
Cheri Hardaway 04/27/07
The ending made me sob... How sad that romance, bright with promise, can sometimes come to this end. Alzheimer's is such a tragic illness, watching loved ones slip away and become imprisoned in the lost places in their minds. And true love stays by the side of its lost loved one, like in the movie: The Notebook. True love stays, for better or for worse, like my dad watching my mom die from her battle with cancer. You have truly captured the essence and heart of true love and romance with this piece. Thanks for sharing, Cheri
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/27/07
This caught my eye because my nickname is Sparrow. This story is beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. Well-written.
Bob Zoellner04/28/07
Well done. The importance of making memories with our loved ones hits home because none of us knows what our furutes hold.

My grandmother had alzheimers, and that was hard to see. How much more difficult that would be to experience with the love of your life.
Jan Ackerson 04/30/07
I was very touched by the sons' love, evident at the anniversary party. Heartbreaking, and beautifully written.
Pat Guy 04/30/07
This is a very well written piece capturing so many emotions. I like the many layers here. Very good!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/30/07
You told this story so well. It really was heartbreaking because it seemed so real.
Sheri Gordon05/03/07
This is absolutely beautiful. (It's hard to write through my tears.) I felt every emotion from your first sentence. Very good writing.
Loren T. Lowery05/03/07
The sentiment in your piece is stunningly beautiful. So well written. Loved it!
Congratulations on your EC placement!
Myrna Noyes05/03/07
CONGRATULATIONS on your well-deserved EC win! This is such a lovely, but heart-rending story. Excellent writing!
Cheri Hardaway 05/03/07
Congratulations on your EC win! Such a wonderful story and a beautiful tribute to your in-laws! Blessings, Cheri
Shari Armstrong 05/03/07
You almost got me to cry with this entry - almost - which says a lot.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/03/07
I'm glad that I'm finally at liberty to comment on your beautiful story. You handled this angle on the topic so well. Congratulations!
Mona Lisa05/11/07
This story carries volumes of subtext. Such as, love for a lifetime, growing old together, living out the wedding vows - in sickness and in health. I could imagine them exchanging their wedding vows. You left just enough space for the reader to color between the lines while providing the factual effects of Alzheimer's disease. The illustration of the sparrow demonstrates the vulnerability of an Alzheimer patient and God's good care over them. Congratulations. Excellently written.