Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: birthday (05/23/05)
TITLE: If You Could See Me Now
By Glenn A. Hascall
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Each candle ignites the memory of a particular year, a veritable forest fire stands before my gaze and I can do little but remember. Oh to be locked in such a mortal coil alternately pains and excites me for my time on this earth has been long and adventurous.
A reckless youth I was and proud, yet to recall my twelfth year would be to remember being left alone among my brothers. Being the youngest, I stood by as the screen door slapped it’s own form of pain. I on the inside looking out, Mama and Papa on the outside looking up. The Great War had claimed two favorite sons and we were left alone to wrestle with grief.
To remember year twenty would be to recall vows made and kept to Carla Jones, an absolute angel I was unworthy of. We started with little, much of which I still own. Hospitality was always Carla’s way and she exuded so much grace that one day I followed her in her faith walk with Jesus. Together those two bound up old wounds and the bones of a broken heart began to mend.
Twenty years later I would be on the outside looking up as men in uniform came to tell me that our son Nathan had been claimed in another war. We rationed sugar, shoes and tires. We had to sit in the dark for fear of attack, then to learn that Nate would be required was almost more than we could bear. Somehow we walked on.
It was the year of my sixty-ninth birthday that I purchased my first console television set. There were two reasons for this bit of extravagance. The first had much to do with the fact that while my ears were tuned to the simple grace of big band and jazz, the radio only seemed to play folks with last names like Presley and Joplin who had a keen ability to cause inward cringing. The black and white images of television also stole the memory of Carla from my refractured heart, if only for a time. I can still recall her final moments when she seemed both extremely old yet no older than the day we took our turn walking down the aisle. In the end, she too breathed her last and joined a chorus I am almost able to hear today.
Eighty years have been well lived and my children were convinced that I could no longer take care of myself. So, I moved to the Villa where my daily needs are met and my food is cooked for me. I found myself routinely poked and prodded but I am in the company of others who remember when television lacked color and a time when our lives were different. Not any simpler perhaps, but less confusing - when we could go where we wanted, listen to what we liked and possessed a measure of respect from those around us. In this year of my life I stand amongst a band of brothers who can only remember the men we once were and revel in past glory.
Today my eyes behold the blaze that comes with reaching a century mark in living. A cake I will never taste sits nearby and the me of who I am is locked in a prison. I can’t speak and my hands shake, but I recognize six generations of family. Some of the younger ones I have only been told about by those who talk too loudly and speak too slowly as if I am a child. Perhaps I am to some degree, however, I have discovered that this is not such a bad place to be. I find myself walking with Jesus in a way that I can not explain nor have I experienced before. I listen as the song ends and the little ones race to the cake to blow out as many candles as possible. The adults laugh and I smile - this is as it should be.
One by one family members leave and I am wheeled back to my room where I gaze out the window at a garden gazebo where one of my great great grandsons is in the midst of courting and sparking a pretty girl whose name I don’t know. Suddenly the scene changes before me. I hear a grand chorus and I watch a much younger me taking the hand of Carla Jones.
“Welcome home, Sonny.”
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