Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FIZZLE (06/09/16)
- TITLE: Grand Aunt Sophie
By M. C. Syben
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Grand Aunt Sophie was unconventional. Married unsuccessfully, twice, involved in too many relationships to count--she was childless with no immediate ties. Older siblings never called her, or she them. She was an introverted lady in her seventies but pleasant. Still, she was skittish, like an animal corrected too often, with one foot out the door, as though life had taught her to prepare an exit before disappointment landed on her shoulders.
During our few sporadic family gatherings, I had always gravitated toward her. When our eyes met, we connected. “Aunt Sophie, had you always lived in Florida?”
“It seems that way, dear, but no. I was raised up North. Same state as your grandmother—cold country, too cold. I moved south in my twenties.”
“Oh, did you move with your husband?”
“Good, grief, no. I left him behind—never wanted to marry him in the first place. I was much too young. He kept pestering me. I didn’t know what else to do…poor man…poor me. I just didn’t want to be there. No surprise when that fizzled out.”
“Did you remarry right away?”
“Land sakes, no! I had to find myself first--tried to redeem myself through the new age movement. From being raised Baptist, I might as well have jumped over the Grand Canyon.” Aunt Sophie gave me a wink and laughed as she recalled her wild times. “Numerology, dream interpretation…if they would have brought Jesus to the center of it, they’d have had all their answers. Seems they were more confused than me. That kind of sputtered out for me, too.”
“So, you went back to being Baptist?”
“No, I kept searching. Prodigal gal, I was. Pot was easy to come by and that eased my anxieties, and it was fun. Everybody did it back then.”
I couldn’t help but laugh when I pictured Old Aunt Sophie toking on a joint. It seemed impossible compared to her present demeanor.
“Hey, now. I was young and stupid in my day…so, so, stupid.”
Aunt Sophie’s demeanor suddenly drooped.
“I’m sorry, Aunt Sophie. I didn’t mean to laugh.”
“It’s alright, dear. I tried being Methodist, Presbyterian, all the middle-of-the-road stuff. I straightened out, remarried, but life is life. Please, listen, dear. If you don’t have that one to one with Christ, traditional existence is going to be impossible. That’s the bottom line.”
“If you don’t marry someone who’s secured that same personal relationship with Jesus, you’ll be asking for double trouble. Mark my words.”
“Okay, Aunt Sophie.” I became uncomfortable with her sermon.
“There is no way of telling you how short life is; how precious each second is. I wasted a lot of time running away from life…away from Him. I don’t remember why. I guess I never felt comfortable in my own skin. Had I volunteered more time to help others, maybe my mind wouldn’t have been so fearful. Old people see these things as life dissipates, and it becomes too late to change. But, since you were so nice to sit down with me, I can pass along these few gems to you. Don’t be afraid of the Lord. That’s all I can offer you today. Now, help me up, dear. It’s getting too crowded for me. I’m not feeling well. I’d like to go home.”
“Aunt Sophie, may I help you to the car?”
“I’m not a complete cripple yet,” she snipped.
She softened, turned, and laid her hand on my cheek. “You remind me of myself when I was young. Do life better than I did. God Bless you always, dear.” Her voice faded away, and I suddenly realized how frail my Aunt really was.
“I love you, Aunt Sophie.” I’m not sure she heard me as she shuffled through the crowded doorway.
Aunt Sophie slipped away in her sleep that night. I was the only family member who attended her interment many days later. As per her wishes, there was no service, but her obituary drew many people who recounted how Aunt Sophie had helped them in their time of need. I wasn’t surprised.
Afterwards, her attorney introduced himself, and asked me to attend the reading of the will. Aunt Sophie left monies to help elephants and unwed mothers. She left me her cottage. More importantly, I've treasured the words of wisdom about Jesus that I will never forget.
Her Earthly passing may have been unremarkable, but I’m sure a fanfare of trumpets greeted Aunt Sophie’s arrival in Heaven.
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