If there were a prize for the orneriest resident of Bayside Manor, Ethel Winslow would win, hands down.
If Ethel wasn't complaining or griping or moaning, she was sleeping, plain and simple. And when her daughter, Beth, rang the specially installed extra loud buzzer on her door one gorgeous Autumn morning, she wasn't surprised to hear her mother call out, "Go away! Don't want any!"
Beth opened the door anyway and found her mom sitting in her favorite green recliner, staring out the big picture window.
"Hey, Ma, let's get you dressed. The Fall color tour's today," Beth said loudly.
Without glancing over, Ethel said, "I aint goin' on no dumb color tour. I'm tired."
"You can take a nap when you get home."
"Well, my foot's botherin' me again."
"You won't have to walk, you'll be sitting the whole time. Come on, Ma, you used to love the color tour."
"What? Speak up, would you?" Ethel looked over at her daughter.
Beth walked over and pulled an outfit from the closet. "I said, you used to love the color tour."
"Yeah, well, that was before my ears stopped working so good."
Beth bent down and lifted her mother from the chair. Ethel let out a string of curse words.
"Stop that, Ma."
"You'd swear too if you was me."
"You don't need to be able to hear great anyway. This is a sightseeing tour, remember?"
"Well I gotta hear the guide talkin' 'bout what I'm seein' don't I?"
"You're turning into a bitter old woman, ya know that?"
"Well I got lots to be bitter 'bout." Ethel pursed her lips and looked away.
Beth sighed. She knew it was pointless to argue. She continued helping her mother get dressed and then moved on to combing her hair. Ethel complained the whole time but didn't try to stop her.
When they reached the bus, Beth took her mother's arm. "Let me help you, Ma."
Ethel yanked her arm away. "You think I'm helpless or somthin'? I can do it myself."
Marty, the bus driver and tour guide, smiled knowingly. "Glad to see you, Ethel! It's been a while!" he said in a loud, booming voice.
Ethel scowled. "I aint got a choice. She dragged me here," she gave Beth a sideways glare.
"Well, I'm sure you'll enjoy the tour." Marty said, giving Beth a wink.
Ethel shuffled to the back of the bus. "Hopefully nobody will bother me back here," she said. "I don't want the window neither. I probably won't be lookin' anyway." Beth squeezed past her mother and sank into the seat by the window, and Ethel sat down next to her.
A few more climbed onto the bus and to Ethel's dismay, a woman she'd never seen before waving a giant stick on the floor in front of her made her way back and took the seat across the aisle.
Ethel gave the woman the once over and looked at Beth. "Can you believe that woman is on a sightseeing tour? She can't even see, for Pete's sake."
The woman looked over and smiled. "Hello, there. My name's Sarah. Sarah Miller." Her eyes stared past Ethel, who blatantly gawked. "Oh - and I'm blind, not deaf. I can hear what you're saying," she chuckled.
Ethel focused on the woman's mouth, making out the words she couldn't hear.
Beth reached over and took the woman's hand. "It's nice to meet you, Sarah. I'm Beth, and this is my mother, Ethel."
Sarah beamed. "I just love these tours, don't you?"
Ethel waved her hand in front of Sarah's eyes.
"Ma, cut it out," Beth whispered.
"I really am blind you know. You don't have to test me," Sarah said.
"Then how'd you know I was wavin' my hand?" Ethel demanded.
"I could feel the breeze against my face. Your hand smells like antiseptic."
Ethel put her hand to her nose and sniffed.
"So why are ya on a color tour when ya can't see?" Ethel asked bluntly.
Sarah closed her eyes. "You don't need to see with your eyes to enjoy God's creation. The heart can see all kinds of things the eyes can't. I meet people all the time who are more blind than I am."
Ethel looked out the window and saw something that wasn't so pretty. She saw her heart. So on the tour that day, she focused on seeing more than just her own problems.
And the colors had never been more gorgeous.
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