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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: The Rainbow Suitcase
By Debbie Roome


I stand in front of the church, the rainbow suitcase in my hands. The pews are packed and dozens of people line the overflow area. I’m shaking but determined to go through with this. Taking a deep breath, I step up to the microphone.

“The greatest tribute I can pay Mom is to share this suitcase with you. We started making it when I was five years old and Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She would spend months at a time in hospital and this suitcase was full of special things that reminded me of her.” I carefully place it on a table near the pulpit. “As you can see, it’s just an ordinary cardboard case; the type kids used for school years ago. Mom and I had great fun decorating it.” I rotate it slowly so everyone can see the splotchy yellow sunflowers with fat green stalks and a rainbow that arches across a sky of azure blue.

“Mom was a Wizard of Oz fan and that’s what inspired the rainbow theme. Looking back, I think it was her way of preparing me for losing her. She told me many times that God’s home was somewhere over the rainbow; that one day we would all go to live in a better place with Him.”

I pop the latches on the case. “The things inside here symbolize who Mom was to me.” I draw out a small bottle of perfume and dab some on my wrists. “This was Mom’s favourite perfume. If you knew Mom, you’ll be familiar with it.” Some of the people nod as the fragrance drifts across the church; the sweetness of honeysuckle mingled with sandalwood and a hint of jasmine. “Mom’s presence was like this perfume; it filled the space she was in and brought joy and happiness to those nearby.”

Next out is a handful of scarves and I drape them across my arm. “Mom wore these scarves when she lost her hair after chemotherapy. Not once, not twice, but four times.” I lift them up; a suffusion of ruby, jade, amber and amethyst. “To me, these are symbols of her courage and strength.”

I replace the scarves and pull out a soft pink cushion, the size of my hand. “Mom made this for me. She said if I felt lonely, I was to cuddle it and pretend she was holding me.” Tears start to flow as I hold it up to my cheek. “This cushion has been my comfort in so many places. It’s been to exams with me, to sleepovers and to hospital. It’s been to the dentist and I even took it overseas. This is Mom’s tenderness, her soft heart and compassion.”

The pastor’s wife hands me a tissue as I lift a pendant from the rainbow case; a glowing pearl caught in a stream of gold. “Mom gave me this for my 16th birthday. She said it was to remind me of the pearl of great value in Matthew 13. She wanted me to remember that nothing in life can compare to God.”

The people nod as I gently touch the rainbow case. There are many more items within but only two more I want to share. I hold up a silver twenty-first key. “As the years passed, Mom was told several times that she only had months to live. Eventually, she told the doctors that she was going to see my twenty-first birthday.” The tears start again and I pause for a moment.

“Most of you will know that she was at my twenty-first party three weeks ago. This key reminds me of her tenacity and determination.”

I sniff back the tears as I pick up the cover of a CD. “I think it’s fitting that I end my eulogy with this.” My voice cracks as I turn my eyes heavenward. “I love you, Mom. I know you’re up there and free at last. This is for you.” I take my seat as the sweet sounds of a young Judy Garland ring across the church.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

Some day I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me…

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

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This article has been read 1131 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Loren T. Lowery05/01/08
Your title caught my eye and your writing drew me in. This is a lovely tribute, gracefully told. Your use of the items in the suitcase and the ending flowed beautifully.
Sara Harricharan 05/02/08
This brought tears to my eyes. I love that rainbow suitcase! Especially the memories tied to every precious object in there.

I liked the song at the end and especially the little pink cushion. That was a cute detail. Nice job. ^_^
Karie Spiller05/03/08
What a touching story. I liked it.
Genia Gilbert05/03/08
This is touching and beautifully written. Thanks for this article!
Emily Gibson05/03/08
What a loving tribute to a mom who prepared her daughter in such a precious way. You are the fruit she bore.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/03/08
This is beautifully written. I can see each item clearly as you present it. You did a great job with this touching story.
Joanne Sher 05/04/08
A lovely, lovely piece. Beautiful tribute, and very creative.
Chely Roach05/05/08
You are killing me with you beautiful words. This was so touching...and I loved the lyrics at the end. Well done.
LauraLee Shaw05/06/08
I'm way too emotional to be reading pieces like this, but it somehow comforted me too. I think it was the rainbow theme that kept it from being too depressing. Just beautiful and moving and all kinds of wonderful things. Well done.
Lynda Schultz 05/06/08
So very, very good. I'll appreciate "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in a new way from now on.
Peter Stone05/06/08
What a moving story, and a wonderful example of someone being an overcomer--seeing the Mom fight for sixteen years. So glad she could see her child's 21st birthday.
Debbie Wistrom05/07/08
You always seem to nail it. Tears threatened with the perfume and at the end my eyes are swimming in them.
Your talent is like a rainbow, something to look forward to and something to thank God for.
Martha Davis05/07/08
My mother-in-law had a long bout with breast cancer and lived much longer than anyone ever expected. I will share your story with her daughters. A wonderful tribute to your mother and so well written!
Joshua Janoski05/07/08
Maybe if I could clear the teary film from my eyes, then I could see to type this comment.

You got my heart with this one. I am not sure if this is fictional or true, but it was a beautiful tribute to a mother. I think we all can find things that we carry with us that remind us of our moms and how special they are to us.

One of my favorites this week. Thank you for sharing this. :)
Janice Fitzpatrick05/08/08
Amzingly and tenderly written! I love each item that symbolized the narrator's mother's nature and message of love and hope. What a tear jerker, I can personally relate to this as we are going through a difficult situation with my own prescious mother and have been hoping for the best. as I wrote about our ordeal and a tribute to this wonderful lady in my entry, A Cup of Cold Water. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece!Janice
Sally Hanan05/08/08
Congratulations on your win this week--this must have been a hard one to write, but you did it beautifully.
Mariane Holbrook 05/08/08
What a beautiful way to give a eulogy. It must have stunned the audience for its creativity and its obvious inspiration. This was so well written and such a well-deserved win. Congratulations!
Myrna Noyes05/09/08
Oh, WOW! This was a very beautiful and creative way to pay tribute to a loved one! The ending was perfect! Thank you for sharing this! Your EC was well-deserved!
Lollie Hofer05/09/08
This story was written in a remarkable way to honor a remarkable, godly woman. What a wonderful legacy she has passed on to you. The style and the pace in which you told the story were well-done. The words flowed beautifully together. Congratulations!
Helen Dowd05/11/08
Absolutely wonderful! Flawless! Well thought-out and presented. You certainly deserved your WIN. You had me with you all the way. My mother also died of cancer, but before the days of chemo. Her treatment was radiation--very drastic. I saw her for the last time on my 19th birthday. She was only 49, but like your mother, she left a legacy...I wrote about it in my book....Thanks for this very enjoyable and tearful piece...God bless you...Helen