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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: End (02/13/06)

TITLE: Swing Low
By Jan Ackerson


The end…

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.

The beginning…

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This article has been read 1889 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Smith02/20/06
Good writing here. I enjoyed the personality that came through in these "end of life" musings. Good job!
Anita Neuman02/20/06
Oh how I love this piece! I love your voice, I love the sweet, easy-rambling thoughts, and I LOVE how you wrapped it in "the end" and "the beginning". This is absolutely beautiful. You've got my vote for a placement.
janet rubin02/21/06
Oh, how wonderful. I wanted to really go visit this sweet lady. A wonderful picture of how peaceful death can be when one walks with the Lord.
Lynda Schultz 02/21/06
Beautifully done.
Cheryl Harrison02/22/06
Very touching. Sweet conversation with Lord right before her homecoming. Your descriptions are wonderful. I especially liked:

"...and more freckles on his nose than bees in a September swarm."

Good job!
Shari Armstrong 02/22/06
A wonderful life remembered (but one cute nitpic lol - well, speaking as a redhead, it must have been an orange "red" barn LOL, because as I used to say as a child, when people commented on my red hair, "It's not red, it's orange LOL -I've never seen anybody with hair the color of a barn he he ;)
Anyway, I loved her conversation with God.
Crista Darr02/23/06
Jan, your character is so real, so precious. It is a treat to read your work.
Cassie Memmer02/23/06
This is so precious. Even with the loss of her precious daughter, she had a satisfying life. Her end was her begining. Very good writing! My pastor who works with hospice patients would love this. He often tells us his stories. It's so beautiful to see a person 'ready' to leave this life, with no regrets. Good job!
Cassie Memmer02/23/06
Oh, I loved the title too!
Linda Watson Owen02/23/06
Remarkable. What a lovely, lyrical quality in this beautiful story! It reminds me of James Weldon Johnson's 'Go Down, Death'. I love this piece that is so skillfully woven! Wonderful!!
Kate Wells02/23/06
You have captured so many feelings here. It's truly beautiful. I hope the end of my life is as precious as this. God bless you... Kate~
Garnet Miller 02/23/06
Beautiful piece. This is a woman who has lived a good life and looks forward to meeting Jesus.Well written:)
Debbie Sickler02/24/06
She felt so real and likable, I wish I had known her better before she died. :)Great writing. I loved her personality that you made shine through this wonderful piece.
Julianne Jones02/24/06
Wow! The old woman's personality just shines through your words. I really enjoyed reading this. And would you believe it, we've even heard of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" downunder! LOL.
Great writing!
Maxx .02/24/06
I really liked the beginning and end ... err, the other way around. Perfect bookends. Great job!
Jeffrey Snell02/24/06
A delightful glimpse into final thoughts in this life...thank you for writing so peacefully.
Lynda Lee Schab 02/25/06
It was hard not to get drawn in to this woman's "last moment" conversation with God. I almost felt like I was eavesdropping! LOL. Wonderful writing - great voice. Well done!
T. F. Chezum02/26/06
Very nice. You put me into the final thoughts and emotions before death. Good job.
Suzanne R02/27/06
Just magnificent. Congratulations!
Kris St. James02/27/06
Great story, Jan! I hope my "end" is as relaxed as hers! Congrats on the win, too! Well deserved.
Teri Wilson02/27/06
Congrats Jan. This is a beautiful story. I loved the end... or was it the beginning?
Debbie OConnor02/27/06
Hooray! I love this like ice cream with a cherry on top! ;)

Absolutely beautiful. Congratulations.
Marilyn Schnepp 02/27/06
Congratulations, Jan, for your Great Win!
Beth Muehlhausen02/27/06
Just so awesome on so many levels. What a story...a real gripper!!! Loved every word. :-)
Grace Sempa02/27/06
Congratulations,on a beautifully written piece.
Amanda D'costa02/27/06
Congrtsulations Jan. You definitely deserve this first place. It's beautifully portrayed and conveys a message too. Praise God !
Rachel Rudd 02/28/06
Wow! That is just fantastic! I got chill bumps reading it! Sounded like a true southerner to me! Congratulations on the win! It is well deserved!
Sharon Singley03/01/06
This is beautiful, sad and sweet all wrapped together. I pictured myself as the old woman with my grandson sitting by my side. I could feel what she was feeling. Great job. I can see why you took first place!
Venice Kichura03/02/06
All I can say is...AWESOME!!Congratulations, Jan, on another deserved win!
Yvonne Blake 02/23/09
wow... you amaze me over and over! I hope someday, I can write as well.