Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)
By Marlene Austin
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B.J. protested as his mother pulled him from his new bride. “Oh, Emily won’t mind, will you? You understand,” she said over her shoulder as she left Emily alone in her wedding gown. Emily felt quite uncomfortable standing apart listening to Mrs. Barnett coo about “the family”, but, eventually, she would accept that that term did not include her.
“The wedding was lovely, wasn’t it, Cheryl? But I don’t know what that boy was thinking. He could have married a number of sweet girls from our church that would have been a much better match. I mean, Emily seems nice enough, but she’s defective! A Diabetic! She takes shots and she can’t eat sugar! You know what a sweet tooth I have. Why, when we were growing up, I used to eat half of your deserts. I just don’t know how I will be able to cook anything when she’s here. He’ll probably spend whatever time they do have together taking her to the hospital. I tried to talk some sense into him, but he can be stubborn as a mule when he wants to be. I just don’t know what’s going to become of him, but it doesn’t look good for now.”
“Hello, Cheryl. Well, I’m a Grandmother. It’s about time. Those two have been married for six years. I’m sure it’s all Emily’s fault. I was beginning to think she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant with that Diabetes, you know.”
“Oh, Cheryl, the baby has to have brain surgery! Four weeks old and has to have brain surgery. She has something called hydrocephalus. It’s all because Emily has Diabetes, of course. We’ve had to tolerate so much because of her Diabetes.”
Day by day Ann Barnett kept her sister and the rest of the extended family appraised of how difficult life progressed because of this unacceptable choice her son had made. Emily was too strong a disciplinarian with the child and prevented B.J. from visiting as often as he should. Yes, they were active in the church, B.J. served as Minister of Music, and the baby was doing well despite the fact that Emily was a Diabetic. For 35 years, Ann Barnett’s declarations to all did not change.
Then, at age 79, eight years after Mr. Barnett’s passing, Ann was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. B.J. and Emily both worked to support the family. B.J.’s sister, Susie, had married and moved 850 miles away years earlier. She visited only infrequently. It was up to B.J. to handle the needs of his mother. He had never been comfortable caring for the ill. He had always relied on Emily to deal with the tending and caring chores.
Emily volunteered to give up her job and care for Mrs. Barnett. She took her to doctor’s appointments, did the grocery shopping, cooked, did laundry, cleaned house, placed orders, picked up prescriptions, gave medicines, fed, bathed, changed Mrs. Barnett, - and called the ambulance when it was necessary to go to the hospital.
“You’re very lucky to have a daughter who takes such good care of you. I’ve seen her here everyday changing your bed, helping you bathe, curling and combing your hair, and seeing to it that you are eating like you should,” a kindly nurse voiced.
“That’s not my daughter. That’s my daughter-in-law.” Mrs. Barnett countered.
“Oh, then you are lucky, indeed.” Mrs. Barnett seemed to ponder that suggestion.
Susie came when told the end was near. Seeing her daughter, son, and his wife in the room, Mrs. Barnett spoke, “I have a request.”
“Yes, Mama, what is it?” Susie queried.
Emily was straightening Mrs. Barnett’s pillow, “I want everyone here, everyone, to forgive me for any wrong I may have done them.”
Susie shot back with, “What do you mean, Mama. What are you talking about?”
“I just want everyone here to forgive me for any wrong I may have done.”
Emily looked to her husband. It was obvious he was too consumed with emotion to speak. Continuing to position the pillow under Mrs. Barnett’s head, Emily said, “I don’t know of anyone here who has anything to forgive you of. Besides, you’ve already received the most important forgiveness through Jesus. That’s all that matters.”
Smiling, gratefully at Emily, Mrs. Barnett finally seemed to rest and sighed, “Yes, that’s true.”
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