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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)

TITLE: A Special Visitor
By Debbie Roome


“Harry.” Matron’s voice preceded her bulky frame into the room. “Are you ready?” I nodded as she tucked a navy plaid rug round my knees and wheeled me over to the table.

She had set it earlier with a lime-checked cloth and a vase of magnolias, their petals the texture of soft whipped cream. I inhaled deeply allowing the fragrance to mask the antiseptic air. Matron ticked off a list on stubby fingers. “The chess set is here, the photo album and the box. Is there anything else you need?”

Alone again, I checked my watch before pulling the chess set closer. Hand carved and stained, it was my own creation. Woodwork was the one thing I was still proficient at. I knew Matthew was an avid chess player and this set was a gift for him; in a way, a peace offering. I set it aside and ran my hand across the photo album. It was a thick volume, bound with a faded red cover and held so many memories.

The first page displayed an enlargement of Rosalie at our wedding. What a beautiful woman she was; chocolate hair that curled on slim shoulders and skin like milk and roses. I still miss her. I flipped a few pages and paused as Trevor grinned out at me. He was our only child: a cuddly baby, a golden toddler, a gangly teenager, a confident young man.

A knock at the door startled me. “I expect he’ll be here any minute.” Said Matron as she placed some sandwiches and cookies on the table. “You’ll want some privacy so I’ll make tea as soon as he arrives.”

I went back to the photos as she straightened a crease in the curtains. Trevor and Carla had been married for eighteen months when Matthew was born and Rosalie was the proudest grandma alive. Every time she went to town she’d come back with a cute outfit, or a rattle, or a cuddly bear for him.

I closed the album and pulled the box towards me. Martin and Kay were good people. I had dozens of photos of Matthew and copies of his school reports. I knew what flavour ice cream he liked and had watched the video of his high school graduation. Yet, until now, he had known nothing about me.

I pulled a newspaper cutting from the box. ‘TRAGIC ACCIDENT KILLS FAMILY MEMBERS’ read the headline. I remember it like yesterday; the impact as the truck slammed into us, the screeching of metal on tarmac and then the silence. Rosalie, Trevor and Carla died instantly. My spine was broken and my lower legs crushed. Only Matthew, nestled safely in the cocoon of his baby seat was unharmed.

My life fell apart that day and facing long months of physical therapy and life in a care centre, I made a decision about Matthew. I couldn’t look after a small baby in my crippled condition and there were no family members to help out. From my hospital bed, I arranged a private adoption and Kay and Martin became his parents. I asked only that they keep in touch, while not revealing my existence.

Everything changed when Kay called a few weeks ago. “You’re not going to like this.” she said, “Matthew is asking questions about his family. He’s spoken of searching for relatives and I think its time to tell him the truth. He needs you. He needs to hear from you about his family, his parents, and exactly what happened.”

I didn’t sleep for a week. What would Matthew think? Would he want a cripple for a grandfather? I’d wanted to give him a new life, one free of tragedy and pain, but maybe I’d been wrong. Would he be able to forgive me?

After a week I called Kay. “Tell him. Tell him everything and see if he wants to meet me.”

“Harry.” Matron was calling me softly. I looked up and there he was; this young man who was so familiar and yet a stranger. For a moment we gazed at each other and then he was in my embrace; his strength pressed against my frailty, his hair soft on my cheek, his scent clean like soap. I realised in that moment what an old fool I’d been; how much I’d lost out on.

When he finally pulled away, his eyes were pools of forgiveness and hope; of compassion and love. “It’s so good to finally meet you, Grandpa.”

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This article has been read 1186 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betsy Markman04/10/08
Simply wonderful. I enjoyed this very much.
Joanne Sher 04/11/08
Heartbreaking and beautifully told. I was absolutely engaged from beginning to end.
Karen Wilber04/13/08
Such sadness and loss; then a glimpse of hope. This is beautifully descriptive as it leads the reader through the decision the grandfather made. I'm so glad there's still time for them to get to know each other.
Sharlyn Guthrie04/13/08
How touching. I can't imagine the courage it took for the grandfather to face so much loss at once. I'm glad his grandson met and forgave him.
Nana Bunch04/13/08
Very expressive writing. Love the way you built up the story pulling us in to the emotions and thoughts of the MC. Very nicely done, good descriptive words, a joy to read.
Lyn Churchyard04/13/08
This was so moving. How sad your MC missed so much of his Grandson's life, but how wonderful that they did get together at last and that there was love and forgiveness. Beautifully written.
Jan Ackerson 04/14/08
Awwwww, what a bittersweet story! I love the details; the items on the table, the blanket tucked around his legs...
Debbie Wistrom04/15/08
This was perfect in everyway. Your slant was different and it read so easily. Wonderful!
Loren T. Lowery04/15/08
Endearing and poignant. Your descriptive phrases pulled me into the story and kept me there, caring for your characters and their outcome. Wonderful!
May Flowers04/16/08
What beautiful writing. Thank you. It brought me to tears, I could so clearly see each moment and feel each emotion.
Betty Castleberry04/16/08
So touching! This made me weepy. Well done.
Peter Stone04/17/08
Outstanding! You put tears in my eyes. Well done.
Sheri Gordon04/17/08
Congratulations on your EC. This gave me goosebumps and tears. Beautiful story.
Loren T. Lowery04/17/08
Debbie, this is so nice to see - congratulations on placing with this wonderful piece - Loren