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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: Finding Mary
By Linda Germain
05/13/08


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I sit on the edge of the pier, lost in thought. The wind pushes firmly against me as if to tell me to move on before itís too late. The sky darkens by the second and there is a rumbling in the distance. It occurs to me these obvious storm warnings, so well-placed in nature, are not always easy to see in human relationships. This is my day for serious contemplation.

A backlog of tears, whose well-spring reaches to some mysterious place way past my heart, mixes with a light rain. Both sources have hours to go before they are spent. I force myself to stand up and trudge back to the small rental cottage.

I curl up in the overstuffed chair by the fireplace and stare at the flicker of a flame trying to make a connection with the perfectly placed logs. I think about paper; pieces of paper, paper-dolls, newspaper. So much of life begins and ends with paper. Birth certificates to death certificates, diplomas, marriage licenses and driverís licenses, and one of the most painful--divorce papers.

It is difficult to process how a legal document, a thing that would easily burn in seconds, can change so many things in a personís life. Filed away with other memorabilia is the one that tells me I am a spouse. In another place is cold authentication that I am not. What is harder to fathom is how to unhook from the family who embraced me with love and acceptance. There is no paper declaring what endearment I now bestow on my beloved mother-in-law. I cannot bring myself to say Mary is a former anything.

She taught me how to march forward and take care of business. With good humor and determination, her constant mantra was always, ďHow hard can it be?Ē She is never deterred by the size of any project. When her motherís hot water heater stopped working, Mary simply removed the old one and followed the instructions to install the new one. While she was at it, she poured a concrete patio by her momís back door.

In the early years, we spent many hours wallpapering nearly everything in sight. One day, after finding the perfect paper for the wall by the stairs, we kept saying we felt like we had seen that pattern before, but neither of us could remember where. Once we returned from shopping I heard her infectious giggling. She hollered, ďI found where weíve seen the paper. Itís in the living room!Ē

Her ability to see a challenge and step up to the plate helped me to confirm the woman I know I am. Through her eyes I could see itís okay to try to be the solution, not the problem; that whining about something is too unproductive; that figuring out how to fix things yourself is more fun--and besides, as a rule, no one else is going to do it for you.

Stories of her escapades when her children were growing up are priceless. Her husband and son were members of the volunteer fire department. Sometimes the fire truck was parked at their house. One morning a call came in and no one was there to drive. Iím told she ran out in her housecoat and slippers, with her hair in rollers, jumped in the front seat, gunned the engine, and with siren blaring, took off to meet official volunteers at the scene. This amusing memory for her family is more evidence of her willingness to put herself out there, and again, take care of business.

After the rain stops I finish my cup of tea and return to the sand. The air smells so fresh and clean and the hint of a rainbow speaks right to my soul as I take one last walk for the day. Iíve thought about that woman all afternoon, trying to figure out what she is to me now.

I take a deep cleansing breath, almost like inhaling the future. When my lungs are full of the sweet sea air, I exhale all the frustrations and pain I thought were here to stay. Like a lightening bolt, a flash of insight nearly knocks me down. I get it. Mary is not an ex anything. She is who she always was: my childís grandmother, my sister in Christ, my precious friend.

I hurry back to the warmth of my beach dwelling to look for some suitable paper. Thereís a letter waiting to be written.

____


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This article has been read 944 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/15/08
This was very well written. I loved the personality and character of Mary, as well as the conclusion the narrator reached. "Paper" was an excellent vehicle to tie the thoughts together.
Joanne Sher 05/16/08
Just wonderful - the characterization, the descriptions, the interior monologue - everything. Masterful.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/17/08
This is so touching, and very well written! I like the "paper trail" throughout.
Karen Wilber 05/17/08
You drew me in and led me along with the MC until I hoped, hoped that she would realize that Mary was still her friend. You didn't disappoint. The paragraph about one piece of paper saying you're a spouse, and one, you're not was a powerful image.
Beckie Stewart05/18/08
This brought tears to my eyes. This is absolutely beautiful. A winner in my teary eyes.
Dave Wagner05/19/08
Excellent. This has to be a serious contender this week. Nice word choices. I liked these: "A backlog of tears," "cold authentication," "the hint of a rainbow," "inhaling the future"

A very good read. Hope it's more fiction than autobiographical. I hate divorce - it destroys everything it touches. I'm always sorry to see or hear of anyone having to go through that.
Lyn Churchyard05/19/08
Beautifully written. Your MC's introspection was wonderfully portrayed. A piece of paper to show the end of a marriage. Ironically, mine is dated 4th July :(
Jan Ackerson 05/19/08
Simply superb writing.
Janice Cartwright05/22/08
So many good things in here it would be difficult to define all of them in so short a space. For a start your story possesses cohesion and emotional impact, well-drawn characterizations. I have a feeling Mary is a real person - if not before, she is now. Blessings.
Joanne Sher 05/23/08
Congratulations, KatieScarlet, on placing 12th in your level and 17th overall. Great job!
Linda Germain 05/23/08
Author's Note: Yes, she is VERY real...and very dear. :0)