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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)

TITLE: A Journey of Death and Discovery
By Debbie Roome


January 9th
Unbelievable! My family have volunteered me to drive Grampie from one end of New Zealand to the other. The fact that I’m eighteen and on summer break has something to do with it.

January 16th
The dreaded day has arrived and I’m on a plane to Invercargill. Dorky Cousin Neville will pick me up in the car I’ll be using; a Nissan that’s seen better days but is reliable according to him. From there, we’ll go to the rest home to visit Grampie and make final plans for our trip.

January 17th
Grampie has aged since I saw him at Great Granny’s funeral in June. His skin hangs off him in bags and creases and he looks frail. I felt a bit ashamed about my attitude as he was so grateful. “My dear Jessica, I can’t thank you enough.” he said. “I’m sure you’ve better things to do than drive an old man on a fool’s journey.”

January 18th
We set off this morning after Grampie secured Great Granny’s ashes in the back seat of the car. I watched as knotted fingers struggled with the buckle; as his hands shook with the effort. He seemed exhausted as he slumped into the front seat. “We were married sixty-four years, you know. Travelled New Zealand many times.”

January 19th
Last night was spent in Queenstown, a beautiful alpine town set around the shores of Lake Wakatipu. After dinner, Grampie asked me to help him down to a spot by the lake where clear waters lapped polished pebbles. Great Granny was in my back pack along with Grampie’s old black Bible. I stayed in the shadows as he sprinkled some ashes and read aloud. “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

January 21st
We drove for hours today; through soaring cliffs and across deep gorges and surging rivers. Our destination was Franz Josef Glacier. “I won’t manage the walk, Jessica. Will you do it for me?” The glacier sat between two mountains, an incredible expanse of frozen ice glittering in the sun. I stopped a few metres away and opened the urn. I had never seen a person’s ashes before and wondered at the texture; at the chalky lumps and fine gray powder. Discreetly, I scattered a little into the water and waved to Grampie in the far distance.

January 24th
Grampie and I are talking more each day. I thought we’d have nothing in common but I’ve realised he still has feelings, hopes and dreams. “I prayed God would make a way for me to do this trip.” he said as we scattered ashes among golden tussocks and fields of sheep. “Thank you, Jessica.” I felt the resentment in my heart beginning to dissolve.

January 26th
We stopped at Arthurs Pass today, a village with fifty inhabitants, high in the Southern Alps. After a break for coffee, we sprinkled some ashes into the braided waters of the Waimakariri River. The streams intertwined with each other, the purest shades of turquoise stirred with milk. “You know the Bible talks about resurrecting us in the last days.” I said to Grampie. “How can God resurrect Great Granny if you’re spreading her across New Zealand?”
“No problem.” he replied. “God is God.”

January 31st
This is the last night of our trip, and I must admit I feel sad. It’s been an amazing experience and Grampie has become very dear to me. Over the last week we’ve left Great Granny with glistening seals near Kaikoura. We caught the ferry from South Island to North and as we cruised through emerald hills that swelled from navy seas, Grampie scattered ashes into lacy ruffles behind us. We lunched by Lake Taupo and picked up pumice stone from the shores. In Rotorua we visited a thermal reserve but didn’t leave Great Granny there. Grampie pointed at the deep pits of bubbling mud and pools, yellow with sulphurous fumes. “Gives a whole new meaning to Hell, eh?”

February 1st
I saw Grampie onto the plane in Auckland this morning. I couldn’t stop the tears flowing as he embraced me, tired muscles quivering. “I’ve one more thing to ask you, Jessica.”
“Anything, Grampie.”
“When I die, will you take my ashes across New Zealand? Scatter me like we did Great Granny?”
I clung to him for a long while before answering. “Of course, Grampie. It will be my privilege.”

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This article has been read 1299 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 01/22/09
There is so much here—not only the tour of New Zealand, but the story around which the tour is woven. I don't know if the story is true, but I love the idea of leaving a little bit of oneself in all those special places where memories have been made. And the journey of understanding, compassion, and privilege of your MC was well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/24/09
This is a beautiful story of a family bond; your descriptive details show a lovely country.
Esther Gellert01/24/09
WOW! What beautiful descriptions of New Zealand and a story to bring tears to my eyes as well.
Jan Ackerson 01/25/09
I love the relationship between the generations portrayed here. Lovely.
Chely Roach01/25/09
To be completely honest, I usually am not attracted to journal type entries, but this is one of my favorites this week;) I absolutely loved the line, “No problem.” he replied. “God is God.”
And the ending made me a little teary. Loved it!
Beth LaBuff 01/25/09
I admittedly don't know much about New Zealand, except what I've seen in the bonus material of the Lord of the Rings movies. What they've shown is gorgeous! I could just imagine this journey from your descriptions. Your story is very moving. I like the diary entries.
Catrina Bradley 01/25/09
Amazing. The MC's change in attitude toward Grampie, the trip, and life is apparent from your masterful writing. Wonderful title, too. One of my favorites this week.
Karlene Jacobsen01/25/09
Your descriptions of both land and heart are beautiful. I could see it, although I have never been to New Zealand. Thank you for the tour.
Joanne Sher 01/26/09
Just beautiful. I love the "narrated tour," along with the richly told and woven tale as we go along. Beautiful.
Joshua Janoski01/27/09
At first I didn't know if I would get engaged in the story because of the format, but I quickly became engaged as I read the first couple of entries.

I think what I liked most was how you brought New Zealand to life. Your writing regarding the locations was very authentic leading me to believe that you have traveled this continent yourself many times. :)

Great job with this.
Sheri Gordon01/29/09
Congratulations on your 1st place. This is really good. I love the format, and getting to "see" beautiful New Zealand.
Diana Dart 01/29/09
The lump in my throat is evidence enough for me that this was wonderful. Your talent at descriptive phrases is (as always) amazing.... sigh. This piece was creatively delivered, bang on topic and very engaging. I'll go and have that cry now.
Dianne Janak01/29/09
Congrats on your most deserved win! Loved the imagery, the character development, the warmth of this piece.. Bravo!
Myrna Noyes01/29/09
WOW!! What an awesome piece that truly deserved its FIRST PLACE win! I loved it!! Your descriptions were delightful, your characters well-drawn, and the story sweet and sad and lovely!! GREAT writing!! :)
Ky Bishop01/29/09
You captured my attention from the very first journal entry. I couldn't stop reading and wished for more. Beautiful...
Beth LaBuff 01/29/09
Congratulations Debbie, on winning with this lovely entry!
Lamar Taylor01/29/09
What a great story! True or not? My wife and I do a Bible study and sing old (and some new) Christian songs in our local old folks home. It is amazing how appreciative the residents are of even any little thing you do for them. Keep up the good work!
Connie Dixon01/31/09
It was awesome to watch Jessica's attitude change throughout this piece, almost from the very beginning. Her grampie's gratefulness initiated her desire to make the turnaround. This was really a heartwarming story. I like Jessica a lot.

Sharlyn Guthrie02/04/09
This is so very touching. Congratulations! (I'm quite behind on my reading) :)