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

TITLE: The Sign of a Mother
By Dusti (Bramlage) Zarse


Moriah stared at the pink whistle before curling her fingers around the small plastic toy and bringing her fist to her chest. It still hurt so much—coming here. She moved her eyes to the stone, not wanting to be the one to tell Jameson that their little boy wasn’t perfect.

“Although I’m sure you already know—” her lone voice echoed through the sharp October air— “what with you having an audience with God and all.”

She glanced briefly toward the heavens and then touched the grave maker with her hand. She had to work to blank her mind against unwanted memories.

“It’s all because of this whistle.” As she spoke, she pushed the object toward the stone, offering proof. “Me finding out, I mean. Well, finding out now instead of later, I guess.”

Moriah closed her eyes, wondering how a mother could miss something so monumental. How had she gone months without realizing? She felt like a failure.

“Look, Aunty Mo!”

The voice of her niece invaded her memory. Her sister had brought the girl to Moriah’s house while she shopped.

“A whistle!” The girl had been proud of that whistle.

Moriah hadn’t. “Don’t you want to play with something else?”

“Unh-unh.” Blow. “I like my whistle.” Blow. “Just like a p’lice off’cer.” Blow. “You know, when they make the cars go and stop.”

That’s when Moriah had noticed. Every whistle blow made Moriah cringe, but Jacob…?

“Jake.” Walking over and crouching behind her son, Moriah said it again, as her heart paused within her chest. She glanced at the shrieking whistle. “Jake.”

He sat there, his back to her, his little hands playing with the toy in his fist.


No response.


“Why you yelling at Jakey, Aunty Mo?” Her niece appeared by her shoulder, and when Moriah turned to meet her, she wanted to cry.

“He can’t hear.” Her faint voice filled the kitchen as her mind analyzed the implications. “My boy can’t hear.”

That had been only the first day. After that there had been tests, doctor’s visits, bills.

Now, Moriah stared at the cold tombstone that bore her husband’s name. “He’s deaf, Jameson. Jake’s deaf.” It still made her flinch.

She brushed away dry leaves before placing the pink whistle near the base of the stone. Struggling for words, Moriah pulled a cassette tape and a portable cassette player from her tote bag. When she pushed play, the first notes of a symphony hit the air. “It’s Beethoven.” Moriah sniffed. “His 9th.”

Then she sat for some time, listening to the music surrounding her ears and trying not to think that Jacob would never hear this.

“I bet you’re wondering why I’m playing this.” Moriah closed her eyes. “They say it’s his best work—Beethoven’s.” Suddenly she hit the stop button. “Did you know he was deaf when he wrote that?” Swallowing hard, she reached into her pocket. “There’s, uh, something I want to read you. It’s a letter. From your mom.”

Moriah glanced at the note as the words blurred before her. “You know what she said? I’ll read it. She said, ‘Composing as a hearing man made Beethoven good, but composing deaf…made him great.’” Moriah folded the note. “She quotes some verses from scripture, too—about God’s sovereignty and God’s glory—”

Moriah paused. “She was right, you know—your mom. It took me a while to see that. Jake’s deafness wasn’t an accident. It was a designed way to glorify God, and I’m gonna make sure Jake sees that. I’m gonna raise him right, Jameson. I got this book, filled with pictures; it’s gonna teach me to talk to him; and I’m gonna take these classes—”

Waiting only a moment, she spread her fingers and touched her thumb to her chin. “It’s sign language. Pretty, huh? It means ‘mother.’” Then she curved her hand at her forehead and cradled it in her arms. “‘Son.’ See? That’s who we are, Jameson. Mother and son.”

Moriah bit her lip and then repeated the gestures. “I’m gonna be the best mother. And I’m gonna make sure our boy knows he has a purpose. Know why?” She raised her hand and drew it down in front of her face, making the sign for ‘God.’ “That’s why, Jameson. Because he’s His son, too. It took me a while, but I see that now.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Chely Roach05/01/08
This was such a beautiful story...I loved it.
Beth LaBuff 05/03/08
I love this, "Jake's deafness wasn't an accident. It was a designed way to glorify God…" You've told this story (that tugs at the heart-strings) very well. Your title takes on a new meaning after reading the story.
Debbie Wistrom05/20/08
This is wonderful. So well done.
Love the message and the way you told this tender tale.