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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Patience (08/21/08)

TITLE: Mary Dear
By Yvonne Blake


A teakettle whistles softly on the kitchen woodstove. A man pours the steaming water, stirring in milk and sugar. He sets the two rattling teacups on the red checked tablecloth and chooses a pill bottle from the lineup against the wall. The mantle clock announces seven o’clock.

“Time for your pill, Mary Dear.” He helps her sit straighter in her wheelchair and adjusts a pillow behind her left shoulder. “I hope the tea isn’t too hot.”

With a towel under her chin and a teacup in his gnarled fingers, he slowly, gently gives her a sip and wipes the corner of her mouth. The clock ticks away the minutes as he takes a sip from his cup and gives her one.

“The leaves are starting to turn red already. It will be winter soon.”

She twists her neck toward the window. “Un-n-n.”

“The pastor’s wife brought some banana bread. She’s such a thoughtful woman. Would you like some with your tea?”

“Un-o-oh” Mary jerks her head and knocks the cup from his hand, sending it shattering across the linoleum floor. “O-o-oh!”

“Don’t worry about that. It was almost empty anyway.” He fetches the straw broom and sweeps the broken pieces into the dustpan. After washing his own teacup in the big enamel sink, drying it, and putting it away; he hobbles to the back door to let the cat out and puts another piece of wood in the stove.

“Are you warm enough, Mary Dear?”

“Unh-oo” She looks toward the living room and swings her arm wildly.

“What? Do you want to listen to the radio?” He pushes her chair across the braided rug and pulls the light chain, giving the room a golden glow. He wipes a dribble on her chin and straightens her up again.

“Unh-oo” Mary focuses on the bookshelf.

“Oh, you want to look at the photo album?”

Side by side, they peer at faces of long ago – mothers and brothers already passed on. They remember the old farm house and pudgy babies. They puzzle over all the faces in the wedding poses and try to remember the names of all the grandchildren and their babies. The mantel clock chimes eight times.

“Time for bed, Mary Dear.”

Sounds of splashing water, thumps, grunts, and rustling cloth are heard beyond the bathroom door. At last they emerge. Mary is wearing a white flannel nightie and pink fluffy slippers. A waft of liniment and talcum follows them down the hallway to the bedroom.

Facing the tall vanity mirror, he straightens her back, adjusts the pillows, and wipes her chin again. With slow gentle strokes, he lovingly brushes her soft gray curls. She closes her eyes; the hint of a smile shows on one side of her lips.

Carefully, he lifts her small frame onto the cotton sheets and tucks her in. He brushes the droplets from his balding head with his shirtsleeve and readies the house for the night.

Finally, with a sigh, he lies down beside her and turns to see her clouded blue eyes watching him.

“Unh –uv-oo.”

He kisses her forehead and whispers, “I love you too, Mary Dear, and I always will.”

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This article has been read 984 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 08/28/08
Oh I got choked up reading about this caring and loving couple. How devoted and patient the husband was to his dear Mary. Very touching.
Emily Gibson08/30/08
There is a special place in heaven for all the wonderful loving care providers in the world. This was so illustrative of their giving spirit.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/30/08
This is a beautifully expressed entry for patience. I loved the caring husband.
Jan Ackerson 08/31/08
So precious! Loved it!
Glynis Becker08/31/08
You weren't kidding about the tissues :) I loved the simplicity of it and the tenderness. Beautifully done.
Dee Yoder 08/31/08
Oh my! This is the picture of the word "devotion". Just beautiful in its description in one day in the life of a care-giver. Lovely!
Patricia Turner09/01/08
You were right; definitely a sad, but I can tell you, true read. Sounds like my mom, and he would have been my dad if he'd still been around to take care of her. Every detail made this a great story!
Laury Hubrich 09/01/08
This is the ultimate love story!
Betsy Markman09/01/08
Oh, that's wonderful, and convicting in its own gentle way. May God make me more patient like that!
Mary Alice Bowles09/02/08
The story of a life time. Wonderful, caring, Loving, Godly story.
Scott Sheets09/02/08
When I read about the patience of spouses in situations like that, it convicts me to realize my impatience over such petty things. Thanks for the story!
Carole Robishaw 09/03/08
I had to walk away before I could come back and comment. My mom had a stroke, which left here in about this same condition. None of us were able to take care of her, we were literally scattered all over the country, my stepdad's health wouldn't allow him to do it, so we found a nursing home for her. She spent the next 15 years dependent on strangers for her care. I still feel guilty. I wonder what kind of example I've set for my husband and son, especially as I'm only 2 years younger than mom was when she had her stroke.
Marlene Austin09/03/08
The most powerful and beautiful truth in this piece is that this man would never have even thought of the model of "patience" and love he was setting - he was just doing what he could, while he could. Precious picture to hold in my heart. Thank you. :)
Yvonne Blake 09/03/08
I'm sorry, Carole and anyone else. I didn't mean to make you feel guilty. I just pray that I will be patient (like my grandfather) to care for my parents or my husband if I ever need to.
Lynda Lee Schab 09/03/08
Wow. What an entry! Simply beautiful writing and an even more beautiful message of unconditional love and patience. Superb!
Catrina Bradley 09/03/08
I think I'm speechless, except to say--I love this!!!!! Now I need to go find a tissue.
Joshua Janoski09/04/08
What a great example of patience that is being demonstrated in this story. I can't even begin to imagine how tough it must be for family members who must take care of elderly or disabled loved ones. God bless each and every one of them!
LauraLee Shaw09/04/08
Oh my, this left me in tears. Magnificent writing and incredible message. Wowzer. Well done.
Helen Dowd09/05/08
Oh what love! What devotion! This story brought a tear to my eyes and a lump to my throat. I wrote a story-poem on the devoted love of a man for his alzheimer inflicted wife...Oh how sad when we get locked out of our own memories...Yvonne, you must have written this story from a true experience of someone, perhaps a loved one...So very well told, and oh so true to life...Love in Christ, Helen
Beth LaBuff 09/06/08
I wanted to say that this is beautiful, Vonnie! I love it!
Marijo Phelps09/23/08
Beautifully written - and lately I am thinking not too far off...in the future unless He comes quickly! The caring and tenderness spoke loudly.