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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Wow! (03/11/10)

TITLE: Early Release
By Connie Dixon


It had been a couple months since I last saw my mom and dad. Driving the two hundred miles each way had begun to wear on me and it was a great excuse not to visit so often. My heart couldn’t handle it. Now I had to mentally prepare myself to visit the two people I loved most.

Pushing the front door open I called out, “Dad! Mom! Hello, anybody home?”

A familiar fragrance - à la urine about knocked me over. Soiled bed sheets and stained night clothes screamed from the laundry room.

Appearing through the bedroom doorway, Dad hurried over and wrapped his arms around me. “Thanks for coming Sweetheart, I’ve missed you…”

As he brought me to arms length I examined the lines on his face and the sadness in his eyes. I had never seen him cry…but unexpected tears dropped down his cheeks. I sensed the hopelessness that had engulfed my hero, leaving him fearful and lonely.

Like a mouse investigating its surroundings, Mom peeked around the corner and whispered, “Who is it, Bud? Who’s here?”

I approached her with arms outstretched, “Mom, it’s me…Elizabeth.”

Her eyes met mine but she gave no indication that she recognized me…her only child. She escaped my grasp and safely disappeared into her sixteen by twenty foot world.

My father, once-vibrant, once handsome, now feeble and weary, moved to the couch. I sat next to him and reached for his hand. Silence saturated the air as we held each other and wept.

Between sobs he spoke, “She doesn’t know me anymore, Punkin’.”

Dad hadn’t called me his punkin’ in years, but the name seemed to comfort him as much as it did me.

“She started calling me Bud a few weeks ago. If I correct her, she ignores me. She thinks I’m her helper…that her husband Harry has deserted her.”

“Oh Daddy, you can’t keep doing this alone.”

For the past two years my dad, Professor Harold Johnson, III, balked at any suggestion of getting assistance. Margaret was his wife until death do they part and he would hold up his end of the bargain if it killed him.

“Dad, you have got to get some rest. Tomorrow I’m going to call Hospice and see about getting some help. You can’t keep on like this.”

When my hero didn’t object, I knew I had waited too long to insist on some support. Softly I pleaded, “Daddy, go to bed, I’ll sit with Mom until she falls asleep.”

Several minutes later I could hear my dad snoring like a logger. I’m sure it was the first decent sleep he’d had since I came home at Christmas.

The next morning, I awoke early after a fitful night on the couch. Shame engulfed me as I recalled my thoughts. God, please, just take her. Let her die in peace. She has lived a good life, she wouldn’t want to continue on this way. Please don’t make Daddy have to keep taking care of her like this. I yearned for death.

We knew that Alzheimers was fatal, but doctors said she would probably die of heart failure before summer. If Mom were in her right mind, she would be mortified to think her life might have taken this awful turn.


On Good Friday I got the call. Relief in his voice, Daddy replied to my greeting, “Sweetheart, she’s gone.”

Silence followed. I was so mixed – grieving at the reality of my mother’s life ended, yet relieved for the release from a cruel disease that had stripped this precious woman of any and all dignity.

“I’m so sorry Dad.” It was all I could offer. There were no words to express the emotions I felt.

His voice cracking, my hero spoke. “I was sitting at her bedside about 4:00 this morning. She’d been so upset the night before, I couldn’t get her to settle down. Finally, she fell asleep. As I dozed next to her, she suddenly sat up straight and shouted, “do you see them, Harry? Can you hear the angels singing?”

With face beaming, her arms went up like a little child reaching out to her father. She called Jesus’ name, then lay back down. She was gone, Punkin’…just like that, she was gone.”

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This article has been read 753 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Earl Taylor03/19/10
Hard to see our parent's suffer, but so grand when they can sit up and recognize their Savior!! I know the emotion you write with.
Margaret Gass03/20/10
Wow! I loved the ending, especially the subtlety of Margaret recognizing Harry once again. Well done!
Beth LaBuff 03/21/10
Beautiful ending (and title in relation to the story!) You've made a life-situation that was so heart-breaking to be so up-lifting. I think this is a wonderful story! I really, really like this!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/21/10
What a beautiful story of love and commitment.
AnneRene' Capp03/22/10
This was heart wrenching, and so endearing. What an absolutely wonderful ending. I was almost afraid to keep reading as I didn't expect a joyful ending. Well done!
Joy Bach 03/22/10
Wow! How appropriate for the topic. This is so very well written. Excellent job.
Catrina Bradley 03/22/10
This is such an honest account of the heartbreak of our parents aging. I love where you ended it - I would have been tempted to tack on something, but this is perfect.
Gina Fifo03/22/10
This is well written. I loved how it ended with God's gift to your father of a return of her memory and the sharing of her dying vision. Touched my heart.
c clemons03/25/10
Didn't get the "wow" here, as Christians, that is our expected end. But overall writing and content was excellent good job.
stanley Bednarz03/25/10
Congrates Connie! I'm so glad for you. A tender story, and thought provoking. You take the time to comment for others on the weekly challenges. You're one cool christian.
Jackie Wilson03/25/10
Congrats on your Advanced win and EC placing. Well-deserved for a great story.
Jesus Puppy 03/25/10
Another vacancy in the Advanced group... ;-) Way to go Connie. A touching story well done.
Margaret Kearley 03/25/10
I'm writing to say thankyou with tears in my eyes. Beautifully written. Like many others, I can so identify with this, having walked a similar path with my lovely Mum. I really love the ending - Thank you and Congratulations on your well placed win.
Donna Wolther03/25/10
Lovely, especially the ending. I hope we can all go like that!
Beth LaBuff 03/25/10
Connie, I was so happy to see this on the EC list! Super congrats!
Eliza Evans 03/25/10
I love the honesty here. No frills. Just a great job, Connie. Huge congratulations!
Sarah Elisabeth 03/26/10
Wow. This was superb. Congrats on your first place win and your EC, Connie!
Joy Bach 03/26/10
Just checked in to see how your story was accepted. I am so very delighted to see it received a first place. It was exceptionally well written. Congratulations!
Joy Bach 03/26/10
And apparently an Editor's Choice. Congrats again.
Carol Penhorwood 03/30/10
WOW! A superb job on a very difficult topic. This disease is so heartbreaking...I lost my father-in-law to this one. We lose them before we "lose" them...so hard on loved ones.
Congratulations--so deserved.
Betty Castleberry04/01/10
As one who watched my own father suffer from Alzheimer's, I can appreciate the emotions in this piece. Great ending. Well done.
Lisa Fuller04/14/10
I love this story, it made me cry as I'm able to relate so well to it.