Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: End (02/13/06)
TITLE: Swing Low
By Jan Ackerson
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So this is the end, is it, Lord? I heard them whispering about me, don’t you know, this afternoon when they thought I was asleep. They don’t realize—that young doctor and my grandson—that slumber slips away from me these days, as furtive as a mouse.
So there he sleeps, in that chair next to my bed. He’s a good boy, Lord—well, gracious me, he’s thirty-two if he’s a day. Not a boy any more, but Lord Lord, I can remember when he was just a tyke. Hair just exactly the color of an old red barn, yes it was, and more freckles on his nose than bees in a September swarm. And he was a tender-hearted little fellow, too—rescuing that baby waxwing that fell from its nest, and now all grown up and rescuing lost souls.
That solemn doctor—he said he didn’t think I’d make it through the night. This must be what dying feels like, then. Why, there’s nothing to it at all! Oh Lordy, it was so much harder when I lost my sweet Susan. Two days of hard labor she had, and then she kissed her babe and flew away home. I didn’t think my poor heart would ever survive that sorrow, don’t you know. But You gave me her precious little red-headed boy to love away the pain…
I just don’t understand, Lord, why You took away that little boy’s mama. My sparkling Susan…her hair always looking like a copper cloud, and couldn’t keep shoes on her feet for more than a minute or two. How that child loved to laugh! That’s why you called her home, I guess, you just missed her way of laughing all up and down the scale, didn’t you now? We thought we would drown in an ocean of laughter that day when Susan made her daddy a sandwich with a scrap of velvet in the middle. Roy’s eyes got as round as new pennies when he bit into that bread.
Good Lord, it’s been a sweet life. Remember how I prayed and prayed that you’d send me a good man? An old maid at twenty-eight, I thought I was, and then there was Roy, standing at my door with his hat in his hand. He was such a quiet man—couldn’t hardly bring himself to ask for help—but weren’t those blue eyes full of deep? Was it You put that nail in Roy’s tire? Well, mama always said You had a sense of humor, she surely did.
Mama…I guess she’s been singing with Your angels for over fifty years now. Don’t You just love that rich, deep voice of hers, Lord? Almost like a man’s voice it was, but with just enough sweetness to turn your thoughts toward honey. How I loved to snuggle in her lap, and smell that lavender-and-bleach aroma that was mama, and have her sing to me. Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home…
Why don’t You just come and carry me home then, Jesus? I’m ready to do some singing, and to shake the ache off these old bones. Here I am…carry me on home.
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