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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Confused (08/16/07)

TITLE: Tending Rose
By Ann Grover
08/23/07


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The breeze rustled the vines twining around the posts of the verandah where Rose dozed in the rocking chair. Her hands were folded in her lap, and her head was tilted to the side. Occasionally, she gave a gentle sigh.

Kate waved away a mosquito that was hovering near Rose’s brow and returned to reading her novel, but she’d already lost the continuity. She slipped a finger into the book and watched her mother breathe for a moment or two, then closed her own eyes.

Did she sleep? It didn’t seem like more than a moment or two, yet the shadows were violet coloured and still. Rose’s chair was empty.

“Mom?” Kate darted into the house, the screen door slamming behind her. Rose wasn’t in the living or dining room, or the kitchen. Kate tapped on the bedroom door. No response. “Mom?” Kate ran through to the backyard. Rose wasn’t there.

Kate raced along the strip of lawn next to the house and looked up and down the street. Was that a pink cardigan? Kate ran, slowing as she approached Rose, who was leaning over a rose bush, gently turning a bloom so she could breathe in the scent.

“Oh, hullo, Kate. I found some flowers. Can we pick them?”

“No, Mom. They belong to Mr. Dale.”

“Oh.”

“Shall we go home, Mom? We’ll make potatoes for supper.”

“Okay.” The two women walked arm in arm, Rose’s fuzzy slippers making a scuffling sound on the concrete sidewalk.

“What would you like with your potatoes, Mom? Green beans?”

“Pink ice cream. Can I have pink ice cream? I like pink. Do you know that?”

“I know that.”

Back at the house, Kate peeled potatoes, dropping them into a pot on the counter. Rose sat at the table and folded napkins.

“I remember eating potatoes during the Depression. Potatoes and sour cream. Day after day. I didn’t think I’d like potatoes again after the Depression. Do we have any sour cream, Kate?”

“I don’t think so, Mom.”

“That’s too bad,” Rose set the napkins on the table and got the cutlery.

While the potatoes bubbled in the pot, Kate got the rest of the meal ready. Rose wandered around the kitchen. following Kate until finally Kate sat her down and gave her a simple jigsaw puzzle.

“Work on that while supper finishes.”

“But I’m hungry. I want potatoes.”

“In a minute, Mom.”

Kate could hear Don in the garage, then he came in and inhaled appreciatively.

“How’re my favourite girls?” He leaned over and kissed Kate, then patted Rose on the shoulder. Rose flinched.

“Supper’s ready as soon as you wash up.” Kate piled mashed potatoes into a serving bowl and put it with the rest of the food. Rose scooped up her puzzle pieces. She motioned for Kate to come closer.

“Who is that man?” she whispered as she eyed Don warily.

“It’s Don, my husband.”

Deep creases marred Rose’s forehead as she stared at Don.

“Have some salad, Mom.”

Rose helped herself, then took some potatoes.

“During the Depression, we ate potatoes every day with sour cream. I never wanted to eat potatoes again. Do we have any sour cream, Kate?”

“No, Mom.”

“Pity.”

They ate in silence for a moment.

“Did you have a good day, Don?” asked Kate.

“Yeah, busy. Had an interesting time with the new client. How ‘bout you?”

“Mom went for a little walk. Just went down the street.” Kate didn’t say any more, but Don and Kate looked at each other. Rose continued to eat her supper, oblivious to the undercurrent of concern. She laid down her knife and fork.

“May I have pink ice cream now? You promised.”

“Sure, Mom.” Kate got the carton and spooned out a serving for Rose.

Rose looked at her spoon bewilderedly, then at her ice cream, and finally dipped in the spoon and ate.

“That was lovely. Thank you. I like pink. Did you know?”

“Yes, Mom, I know.”

“I’m tired.”

“Would you like to go to bed now?”

“Yes, please.”

On the landing, Rose stopped to stare at a picture. It was a nightly ritual. “Who is that man?”

“It’s your husband Peter.”

“He’s very handsome.”

Kate prepared Rose for bed, and as she was tucking in the blankets, Rose reached for Kate’s hand.

“Kate, you should have smelled the flower. Divine.”

Sleep was already stealing across Rose’s face. And Kate thought, Yes, I should have...


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This article has been read 943 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 08/23/07
The title is perfect and you have woven it into your story so well. The last line is so meaningful to me — even in these terrible moments, we do need to stop and share the good things together. Beautifully done.
Dee Yoder 08/23/07
Oh, your last line is a beautiful ending to a beautiful story. The characters you created in this piece are so real. Even the glimpse of the husband and the son-in-law are sketched out in short sentences. Really lovely writing.
Dianne Janak08/24/07
Loved the last line also and that you made the confused the same as the lucid. Not only profound, but my daughter is a nurse in a retirement home,and has gained more wisdom from the confused than I would have ever believed. There is always a spirit in there that does not die, even when the mind is going.
Joanne Sher 08/24/07
Perfect title. Perfect final line. Perfect dialog. This is just wonderful. (As usual, if I'm right about who this is!) Thank you for blessing us with this wonderful story.
Betty Castleberry08/24/07
This is lovely. Rose seems so real to me. She reminds me of my aunt who has Alzheimer's. Very nicely done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/25/07
This is a simply lovely story--so well written.
Laurie Walker08/26/07
Beautiful. Simple beautiful.
Kristen Hester08/26/07
This is so beautiful and tender. The daughter caring for the mother just as the mother cared for the daughter for so long. I loved this story. Thank you.
Jacquelyn Horne08/27/07
Caring for the forgetful is quite a task. You pictured this well.
Debbie Roome 08/28/07
A very touching story. Easy to read.
George Parler 08/29/07
Very touching and emotional story on a very sad view of life. Nice job.
Michael McBuba08/29/07
The storyline was truly intriguing and very powerfully engaging. I could't glance away even for a second! A great accomplishment and a remarkable feat.
Lynda Lee Schab 08/29/07
So many pieces on Alzheimer's and Dementia this week (including mine). But yours is truly outstanding. What a realistic picture of these tragic diseases that ravage the mind. I was completely engrossed throughout. Wonderfully crafted. Truly Masters-worthy.
LaNaye Perkins08/29/07
I also felt that you did an excellent job capturing Rose and her confusion. This was just beautiful.
Brenda Welc08/29/07
I swear stories like yours should come with a warning box of kleenex somewhere!:) This was so sad I cried (and I thought after writing my fearful entry yesterday I had no more tears left)! This was very well written and true to the heart. You wrote this with such compassion. Great writing!
Patty Wysong08/29/07
What a beautiful portrayal of a day in the life of caring for a parent with alzheimers. That's love in action.
Jan Ackerson 08/29/07
Wonderful characterization, and the last two lines are just perfect. A lovely, lovely piece.
valerie chambers09/07/07
I can't believe you did it again! I was captured from beginning to end.Your writing is the absolute BEST.
Kimberly Lane09/22/07
Wonderful! You are one of my favorite authors--look forward to reading more and more and more!