Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Expire (08/01/13)
- TITLE: Best Before
By Mike Newman
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Years ago, before she had become another piece of the furniture to me, I would whisper her name when I found her like this. I wanted to see if the constant vigil of the less ominous eye would keep her abreast of the goings-on in the living room. Hearing her name her head would turn, and if pressed, her eye that was so adamant about taking in all that it possibly could would snap open.
She is a small woman, never without an open book, which she struggles to steady on the skinniest of laps. An easily-maneuvered paperback would be the obvious choice for one who has difficulty lifting anything heavier than her dinner plate. If her condition were mine, I would satisfy my appetite for the written word with a steady diet of Louis L'Amour.
Instead she chooses weighty tomes. Huge, hard-bound books with crackling pages and dust covers that have been worked like rented mules. Penned by long dead Puritans with an eye to ensuring you never went long without remembering your wretched state. When she has gleaned all she can from her current fare, she alerts mom she is ready for something new with a call so quiet, so faint, that the idea that anyone could possibly hear it is absurd. But Mom always does.
"Mother, seriously, why can't you move Grandma upstairs? She would be just as comfortable there and we wouldn't have to avoid using our own living room. I don't think she has moved since I got back!"
"Your the only one who feels you need to avoid the living room Michelle. The rest of us enjoy her company. God has kept her with us, and it is a wonderful blessing to learn from her experiences."
I am a philosophy major. I have learned to use reason and knowledge to guide my life. I have studied Locke and Epicurus, sat under the tutelage of brilliant professors, and long ago tossed away the simple faith of my mother. I am an educated and sensible woman.
She is a baptist.
"I love Grandma, but let's be honest, she long ago limped past her best-before date. The only things she ever wants to talk about are God and her relationship with said God. Oh, sorry, correction ... she also likes to interrogate me about my lack of the same."
"I think it's safe to say that interrogate is not exactly accurate. Haven't I told you a billion times not to exaggerate?"
"Your humor is so not funny. Really Mom, it's depressing with her in there."
This is shaky ground with my mother. She is fiercely defensive when it comes to Grandma and their shared faith. As a little girl, she would long for the Sunday mornings that brought baths and funny faces, hair brushes and giggles, as they readied themselves for the morning service. Grandma would rush to get herself ready so that Mom would have as much time as she wanted to make sure everything was perfect.
"Honey, your grandma has lived a hard life. With my dad being the way he was, and then leaving us, she has weathered so many storms. The only constant in her life has been change. That's why she is so happy to cling to her faith. God is the one person who has never let her down, never been ... absent."
"But her ideas about religion are even more antiquated than she is. No one thinks that way anymore."
"Michelle, it is only our consumer culture that somehow identifies 'new' with better. You're right, sometimes ideas need to be let go of when we have new information, but not everything is set to expire when we tire of it. The reason why our faith in God does not change is because He doesn't either."
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