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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)

TITLE: That Was Then
By Helen Dowd


That Was Then

I stood overlooking the valley to the place where I knew it had been: that shack, so humble and shaggy, that I'd spent my early years in. I shut my eyes and imagined that I was a wee girl of four, standing there with my sisters and mother, seeing things as in those days of yore.

My mind floated back to my childhood. I recalled some scenes from the past. And slowly I remember some incidents, recollections that forever will last…Too young to realize the battles that Mama and Daddy'd gone through: the depression, the drought, and the grasshoppers--these things we kids never knew.

The log shack had been built by my father, with no one to help in the task. But then, knowing Dad as I now know him, for help he never would ask. The windows in front were not even. The door hung at an angle--askew. And Mama, when viewing his handwork, said: "Guess that's the best he could do."

Through the door Mama entered the dwelling: two rooms for a family of five? She cringed as a pain overtook her. One more was soon to arrive. Yet she smiled, feeling happy and fuzzy. Though humble, it welcomed her home. No longer did she feel like a transient. No longer did the family need roam.

Ah yes! I recalled dust, ants and grasshoppers, but to me they evoked thoughts of fun. My sisters and I found great happiness, making mud pies that we baked in the sun. And then inside our dirt playhouse, we set out our goodies to munch: to our rag dolls, the ants, and the grasshoppers, we fed our wonderful lunch.

And then I remembered some sadness. Our Mama took terribly ill. We lived 'way out in the country: no hospitals, no doctors, no pills. And Daddy was gone at the present—to find work he had left that same morn--there was no one to look after the babies. By then two more had been born. So sister, just seven, took over. She seemed to know just what to do. She changed and washed little brother, and gave milk to the wee baby, too.

Second sister and I stood 'round crying, 'till big sister yelled at us, "Pray!" So we dropped to our knees and said, "Jesus, please take our Mama's sickness away. And please dear Jesus send Daddy. Without him we all are so sad. We promise, if you make Mama better, we'll try hard to never be bad."

We hardly had finished our praying, when Daddy burst into the house. "Hey Mama," he cried as he entered--stopping short when he saw his sick spouse. He dropped to his knees in a panic, calling loud to his Jesus in prayer. "Oh Lord, please do spare our dear Mama," he cried in anguished despair. He ran to the porch for some coil oil—the only oil he could find. The Scripture in James taught "anointing", and he knew it didn't matter what kind."

James 5:14 and 15 says, "Is any sick among you?... let him pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up…"

Soon after Mama started responding. So slowly she opened her eyes. Bewildered she looked all around her. And gradually she started to rise… The Lord in His great mercy had spared her—she from death to life was restored. To this day I remember that miracle--although then, I had barely turned four.

Many decades have passed since that happening. Many houses have I lived in since then. And the faith of my mother and father, I have thought of again and again. A home is not in the building, regardless how grand it may be. It's the HEART of the house that matters—It's LOVE in the home, don't you see?

As I stood overlooking the valley to that place holding memories galore, I think of my family members, waiting now on the heavenly shore: there're two mothers, a father, big sister, a brother, and two babies, too. I see them all standing and calling: "We're happily waiting for you."

(At a later date our mother died and dad remarried, adding other children to the family.)

This story-poem is based on fact.

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This article has been read 822 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 06/05/08
Wow! What an interesting approach! I don't believe I've ever read a story/poem set up like this before, and I REALLY like it.
Mariane Holbrook 06/07/08
I'm in awe of the treatment you gave this entry. I am not too acquainted with story poems but this one flowed so beautifully and described your home in such detail that I applaud this wonderful piece. The hardship of those times is hard to imagine but you brought it to life until I could imagine myself living there. This is an extraordinary piece and I hope it places very high! It should!
Ann Marie Lindenmeyer06/09/08
Wow, I really like story poem style you chose. It flowed and told the story with wonderful words to express the experience. Very creative!
Sara Harricharan 06/09/08
Oooh, what a neat format. A story-poem! I like how you set this up, the flow of it and the story. Nice! ^_^
Beth LaBuff 06/09/08
This is very creatively written. I like the paragraph poem format. Your story is amazing and most heart-warming.
Joy Faire Stewart06/09/08
I was very intrigued with the writing style. It flowed beautifully and was very touching. Loved it!
Lyn Churchyard06/09/08
WOW Helen, I've never read a story-poem before and I really love this. So smooth in the reading and my mind could see everything that was happening. You hit the nail right on the head with A home is not in the building, regardless how grand it may be. It's the HEART of the house that matters—It's LOVE in the home, don't you see?

I especially loved the last line where you say: 'I see them all standing and calling: "We're happily waiting for you".' Well done, this was just wonderful.
Julia May06/09/08
I think I know who this is - Great stories are always the true ones.
Catrina Bradley 06/09/08
How very creatively crafted! And a great story to boot. Absolutely love this one!
Aaron Morrow06/10/08
Very well done, great rhythm and approach. Beautiful in both creativity and execution!
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/11/08
I didn't catch the poetry aspect the first time I read this and had to go back and read again. Cool idea! Touching memories.
Glynis Becker06/11/08
Wonderfully done. I had to read some paragraphs a few times to get the meter, but I really enjoyed this!
Karen Wilber06/11/08
I loved the format of this and the story and the message. Unique style that worked well here.
Debbie Wistrom06/12/08
What a life! I appreciate the work it took to hone your thoughts to just 750 words. Well done and enjoyable entry.
Lisa Johnson08/14/09
I thought it was just a story...then a couple of stanzas in, I thought this sounds like a poem. I went back and started again...and sure enough...a poem. I have never seen one written like this...a story poem...but I like it.