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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: At Wit’s End (02/13/14)

By C D Swanson



I was so frustrated that we couldn’t figure out what Mrs. Beckman wanted. It was the same thing since her admission two weeks earlier. I’d walk into her room, and she'd lift her hands to me and say, “red” continuously. I'd manage to calm her after several minutes, while I fervently searched my mind as to what “red” could possibly mean.

“Mrs. Beckman, I have to get going, but I’ll return later on…I promise.”

She nodded and lifted her hands before saying, “red.”

While sitting in my office chair, I wrestled with thoughts of “red” and what red could be.

Mrs. Beckman’s primary diagnosis upon admittance into the nursing home was chronic heart failure with a secondary diagnosis of post cardiovascular stroke. The stroke left her aphasic… the only word she could utter was “red.” The only family member was a second cousin who was older than her and lived two thousand miles away, so there was no hope in trying to contact this family member.

Red. I needed to figure this out or I’d never be able to live with myself. It obviously was important enough for her to keep mentioning it. Ironically, the only word she could utter, so it must be of major significance. I went to visit her before leaving for the night.

“Mrs. Beckman, may I come in?”

She nodded her head and smiled. “Red.”

“I know, Mrs. Beckman. I’m going to try and figure this out. Please, just nod yes or no for my questions okay?”

Nodding emphatically she smiled once again, before repeating, “red.”

“Is red a pet you’ve left behind perhaps?”

Her head shake was a definite no.

“A favorite dress or item at home?”

Again, a head shake indicating no.


I could see visible tears when she repeated red.

I grabbed her hand and whispered, “I promise I’ll figure it out Mrs. Beckman. However, for now, I have to go home for the evening. I'll be back tomorrow…in the meantime, I’ll pray for God to help me with this.” She began to nod quickly before kissing my hand.

On the drive home I began to think of all kinds of things, none of which jumped out to me with clarity. “Oh please heavenly Father, I want to bring her what she needs. I’m at my wit’s end and need Your hands of grace and Your wisdom in solving this mystery. What does “red” mean my Lord? What should I do to figure this out? It clearly means something to Mrs. Beckman. What does it mean Father? Guide me in Jesus name, Amen.

After dinner I kissed my husband goodnight and went to relax in our bedroom. In the solitude of the room I picked up my King James Bible and read a passage from Matthew 28:20, “…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” It truly hit me like a ton of bricks!

“Sweetheart…I believe I know what Mrs. Beckman wants!”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m driving back to the nursing home.”

“Whoa! I’m going to drive you; I think you’re too excited to concentrate properly.”

“Come on, let’s go then!”

The drive seemed to take forever. The car barely came to a stop before I leaped out and ran for the front doors of the building.

“Jessica? What are you doing back—”

“Eddy, I need to get into the storage area.”

The maintenance man nodded, “Sure thing…let’s go.”

I went to the storage bin that belonged to Mrs. Beckman, “Thanks Eddy, I’ll take it from here.”

I went through each and every box methodically. There must have been over twenty-five total. As it turned out it was the very last one in which I found the treasure. I looked up to God and smiled before mouthing “thank you Father.”

Bounding up three steps at a time I literally ran to Mrs. Beckman’s room. I knocked on her door and with tears in my eyes; I held it up in the air before approaching her bed.

She nodded. “Red” and then kissed the object of desire I'd handed her.

“I told you I’d figure it out…but it was God who ultimately told me what it was you so desired. Praise His loving and Holy Name.”

She smiled at me as she caressed her worn but beloved red Bible…

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This article has been read 541 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Goergen02/20/14

Oh, I really enjoyed this! I like how you so vividly and perfectly showed being at “wit’s end” with both the MC and Mrs. Beckman, without saying it. I had begun to suspect the item Mrs. Beckman wanted was a bible, but I thought it was going to be “red letter edition”, not a red bible. My mother has a cousin that is in a nursing home that, because of a brain injury can only say two words “all right.” He says “all right” for everything, no matter what you ask him. Like Mrs. Beckman in your story, he can comprehend what you are saying to him but can only respond with “all right.” And you can just read the exasperation and frustration on his face as he tries to answer. Therefore it was easy for me to truly envision Mrs. Beckman’s frustration! This was an excellent read, so well done!
lynn gipson 02/20/14
Wow, and double wow. This was truly a nail biter as I tried to figure out what 'Red' meant along with the MC. I thought at first she wanted to be "read" to. I loved this whole story, it sounds like a true one.

Very well written and I loved the fact that the answer was hidden in the Bible verse. You leave the reader wanting to read more about the lady who kept saying 'Red'.

Thanks for a real inspiration and smile bringer.

PamFord Davis 02/20/14
Wonderful story; I could feel the frustration both characters experienced. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a deaf friend who spoke, but not clearly. She was telling me something but I could not understand. She solved the problem by writing on a chalk board!

Wing His Words
Toni Hammer02/21/14
Well you made me cry with joy for the characters and longing for my Bible to be that treasured of a possession in my own life. Fabulous story. Thank you so much.
Dannie Hawley 02/21/14
This brought both satisfaction to the reader, as the MC discovered the answer, and the desire to know more about her patient. I had thought perhaps she wanted "Fred," a dearly departed husband or friend. Your article has clearly presented one of the most common distresses for a stroke patient, or anyone with diminishing brain function, really. You crafted a story as instructive as it was entertaining. that's always a good thing for a writer to do. Thanks for this nicely done story.
Margaret Kearley 02/24/14
This was just delightful and so highlights the frustration that many stroke patients must feel. A wonderful story - I hope it was true. (Many years ago my mother gave me a beautiful red leather Bible, making the comment 'A Bible should be red'!!)
Noel Mitaxa 02/26/14
You have packed so much into this, and so skilfully.
Your portrayal of the parallel frustration of your MC and the stroke victim is so strong. And you have wrapped it up so happily and so credibly that I strongly suspect an autobiographical touch on the story. Excellent work.
Bea Edwards 02/27/14
I was thrilled to see your name at the top of the list, even more joyous after reading your deserving story which blessed me with a combination of goose bumps and tears.
Edmond Ng 02/27/14
Congratulations on your placing first for EC! God bless.
Danielle King 02/27/14
WOW! Amazing writing and one I will remember for a long time. Congratulations on your win Camille. I'm so happy for you.
Lillian Rhoades 02/27/14
For you who so faithfully encourages others by your comments, let me return the favor.:-)

Congratulations on a super story, and a much-deserved win.
Beth LaBuff 02/27/14
Such masterful and poignant writing. Many congrats on your awards.
Toni Hammer02/27/14
Congratulations CD! A very well-deserved win!
lynn gipson 02/27/14
Congratulations! I knew this was something really special, but didn't want to jinx it by calling it a winner. So very happy for you and all the times in the past when you deserved this! Blessings my dear friend!
Sheldon Bass 02/27/14
Awesome! Congratulations on this spectacular entry! But then, we always knew you have what it takes. Keep the great stories coming.
lynn gipson 02/27/14
Man, oh, man, my heart is dancing. Taking the top prize in 1st place and EC! So happy for you, Camille.
Linda Goergen02/27/14
YAHOO Camille! Congratulations! I am doing the happy dance for you! You so deserved this 1st place win!
PamFord Davis 02/27/14
Way to go, girlfriend!
Congratulations; you earned it!

Wing His Words
Phillip Cimei02/27/14
Congrats! It is so ironic that my wife and I are experiencing the same situation at a nursing home where we direct the BINGO. A little old man can only say "Boy Shoes". Thank you. We will try your method and prayer. God bless.
Francy Judge 02/27/14
Congratulations! I loved this sweet story! So glad for you. You drew me in from the beginning.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/27/14
First, HAPPY DANCE!! I am glad I'm home alone because when I saw your name at the top of the EC list, I literally yelped in joy! My dog gave me a funny look, but I don't care because I'm so happy for you. Your story was brilliant. You started off with a clear conflict. Because I'm me and the only one who would dare leave red ink on the first place winner overall... I can't resist and know you realize it comes with love. In the one paragraph you used the phrase family member twice, maybe sub one for relative. But, it obviously doesn't matter because you did amazing. I love that the nurse reassured her that she would be praying. As both a former nurse and patient, I understand how important it is to let the patient know someone is praying for you. Again I say, Happy Dance!!!
Margaret Kearley 02/27/14
So very thrilled this wonderful story took first place Camille. Many many congratulations. It is even more special knowing this is a true account. Just great.
Noel Mitaxa 02/27/14
Numero uno!
Cogratulations for sharing such a brilliant story, you well-deserved winner, you.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 02/27/14
Congrats! Well done.
LaVonne Wood 02/27/14
Congratulation on your win! I loved this story. Just want to say thanks for all the wonderful comments and encouragement you have given me and many other in the challenge. Blessings, LaVonne
Theresa Santy 02/27/14
You had me rushing to the end to find out what "red" was! Congratulations on your well-deserved win.
Elizabeth Baize02/27/14
Congratulations on your well-deserved win! I was excited to see this beautiful story at the top.
Elizabeth Baize02/27/14
Congratulations on your well-deserved win! I was excited to see this beautiful story at the top.
Leola Ogle 02/27/14
Yay, Camille! Doing a happy dance for you, sweet lady! Congrats! God bless!
Susan Ferguson 02/27/14
Congratulations C.D.! Well deserved win! So happy to see you at first place!

Susan Ferguson
Mar  02/28/14
Congratulations! I loved the story, was thinking the whole time it might have been the " red ink" 'Jesus' words! But yes, her beloved red bible! Awesome !
Dannie Hawley 03/03/14
Wow! What a long line of back-slappers you have here, dear cami! I'm a bit later than everyone else, but just as sincere. Can you see me coming with two bouquets of roses...one for E.C. and one for top in our category! Hope you're not allergic to their perfume. I'm soo glad that Anne-Lise wrote to tell me your great news here! I can't believe the ONE time I totally forget to check the winners--such a busy day it was--and it was the day your story hit the top! I'm beside myself with joy! A double win! Oh, how marvelous!
Bonnie Bowden 03/06/14
What a powerfully crafted story. I enjoy reading your work and am so glad it placed 1st place.

Dusty Fontaine03/10/14
A belated congratulations on your win! This is a wonderful story.

It reminded me of the times my wife and I would volunteer at the nursing homes in town with our small children. Many had strokes and could not communicate with their words. It was quite frustrating at times. But I was so proud of my children's patience with them.

Thanks for sharing this heartfelt and well formulated story.

Gary Ritter 04/17/14
This was a neat little story. I ended with tears in my eyes. How difficult communication is when we can think and speak properly; it must be so frustrating to someone who has a stroke or other affliction to get across what they want. Great tie-in to, and revelation about, the Word. - Thanks also for your reviews!
lynn gipson 06/20/14
Congratulations, my dear friend, on being a strong contender for Best Of the Best. I truly hope you win, because this is an article I remember well, and that speaks for itself. So lovely and touching. It deserves top honors.

BLessings, Lynn