Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)
By Christabelle Allestad
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Laughter rose from a shaded table behind him. John turned. Uncle Ben’s hands swung wildly as he regaled his audience with tales of some past adventure. Cousin Peter ducked as a near miss flew over his head. Aunt Millie sat beside her husband with a knowing smile. The story might be more fiction than truth, but Aunt Millie laughed and enjoyed her husband’s outlandish antics anyway.
John reached for a plate. He nearly tumbled over a red-headed little girl as he grasped back for a fork. Salads awaited sampling as he loaded each onto his plate. Soon the fruit oozed into the potato and macaroni salads as he shoved them over to make room for the pork and beans. Corn-on-the-cob lay across the greens while he snuck the chicken from beneath the wasps. A roll hung dangerously close to the edge as a bun with two patties were set on top. Finally, John worked his way toward an empty seat.
One couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sun was high and hot. Each family was either eating or waiting. Soon the horseshoes would fly as Uncle Pat’s clan would challenge Aunt Bea’s to a tournament. The young ones would separate into volleyball and baseball while some of the older ones would stay behind to hide in the shade while they chatted or played chess. John wished his own kids had come, but they had stayed behind to finish packing before the big move west. He wouldn’t have come himself if his interview hadn’t corresponded with the day of the reunion, but he was happy enough to be here. A voice pulled him out of his reverie.
“Yep, they say he’s only got a few weeks to live, I‘m surprised he made it” a woman whom John thought to be Cousin Nelly was saying, “Boy, it’s going to be hard on Grandma when he goes.”
“Yeah,” another woman said, “but that’s the way of it.”
John’s gaze turned to Grandpa. His hard face weathered by life and lined with age now drooped wearily on his bones. His shoulders sagged and his hands shook fiercely as his aging talons gripped the cane. Baby Annamarie was playing contentedly at his feet as her mother, another of John’s cousins, chatted easily and nibbled on her food. Regret filled John’s chest. Events of harsh words and slamming doors overwhelmed him. There were so many words he’d said, so many things he wished he could take back. And now Grandpa was nearing the end.
Instinctively, John rose out of his chair, leaving his food unfinished on his seat.
“Grandpa,” John’s voice faltered, “I got something to say to you…”
“John!” Grandpa brightened, “I knew you’d come!”
Grandpa leaned over and grabbed John’s hand affectionately. John didn’t know all the words but knew from Grandpa‘s face that the words weren‘t important. Grandpa had forgiven him long ago.
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