Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL (don't write about the song) (04/02/15)
- TITLE: Granddad's well
By Doug Spurling
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I nodded, as I’d done a thousand times before, but when my lips started to lift into that old familiar smile I looked away—out the window and then to the floor. I dropped into the chair next to his bed. “Why didn’t you tell someone…me?”
He didn’t say anything for a long time.
I remember when I was a boy I had gotten real angry at my folks and told Granddad, “They never listen.”
He had said, “Let your eyes and ears do most of the talkin’ and your folks’ll listen.” I’ll never forget that. It worked. They let me have that blue heeler pup. One eye was blue and the other was brown. I named him, Blue—after Granddad’s eyes.
He was staring at the ceiling above his hospital bed, but as soon as my eyes landed on his face he rolled his head and caught my gaze.
I shook my head. “Why?”
His shoulders raised and then settled back down, his head turned ever so slightly from side to side and then one brow lifted as he pulled in a slow breath and parted his lips. “Nothin’ to tell.”
“Nothin’ to tell? What are you talkin’ about?” I stood. “You’re in the hospital, eaten up with—” I shook my head because I couldn’t say the word that started with a c because if I did it’d make it true. I swallowed hard and put my hands on his bed rail. “You’re lying on your…bed.” I couldn’t say the d word either.
He smiled. Gentle, peaceful, no fear.
“Granddad, why didn’t you tell me you were sick? The doc said you were in pain for a long time.” I looked in those eyes, they were smiling…still. “This is serious. I could’ve come. If you’d have said… We should’ve known—”
He set his hand on mine.
“Every time I called you said you were fine.” I crossed my arms.
His smiling eyes never wavered. I thought they would. I figured he’d look away knowing he’d lied. He told me he was fine when clearly, he wasn’t. I remember it as clear as day.
I’d ask, “How you doing Granddad?”
And he’d always say the same thing. “Well. And you?” He figured why use two words, when one’ll do.
I’d tell him about my job and the trouble I was having with my old truck—the one he gave me.
He’d always ask, “Wanna go fishin’?
I used to find the time…but it’d been a while. A month or two, or was it a year?
Anyway, he’d always ask the same questions like a stuck record. “Have you wore that Bible out yet?” For graduation he’d given me a leather Bible with my name engraved on the front. Inside the front cover he’d written, “A Bible that’s fallin’ apart is owned by folks who aren’t.” That’s about all I’d read in it. The day he handed it to me he said. “Wear it out and I’ll get you another.”
After he’d ask about the Bible I’d usually change the subject or have to get off the phone. I never really thought about it until then…but that’s how the phone calls would go.
Granddad continued to look at me with those blue eyes.
“You lied.” I couldn’t believe I said that. I felt dizzy and grabbed the bed rail.
He set a wrinkled hand on mine. “It is well.”
“It is well?” I pulled my hand from under his. “It is not.” I shook my head and walked toward the door. “If you’re not honest there’s no use talking—”
He sat straight up and lifted both hands. “It is well…with my soul.”
His smile never faded and his eyes never closed. He sat back and that was the last words he ever spoke.
I drove home in a blur of angry tears. I found that Bible and threw it against the wall. “I’ll wear you out” I shouted. It hit the floor and the back cover flipped open. There, written in blue were words I’d never read.
Live each day
So you can say
It is well
with my soul
Then you’ll hear,
when it’s over
~ This is my prayer for you
Love Granddad ~ it is well with my soul, forever.
I hit my knees that day and I’ve been wearing that Bible out ever since.
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