Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)
TITLE: FIVE GENERATIONS
By Debbie Roome
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It was a human interest feature. Not a horror headline, a splattering of gore or designed to shock, but a sweet family tale. The story of five generations of women, all living at the same time. Jan McKenzie had been assigned to attend the 95th birthday party where they would all be together.
The setting was a garden and the guests were family and friends, some of whom had traveled long distances to be there. A harmless affair of red gingham cloths and platters of cup cakes and pastries.
Jan introduced herself and requested they start with a photo shoot. Always best done before tea got spilled and crumbs ruined make up. Elsa, the matriarch, was the central focus in her wheel chair. Daughter, Mabel, aged 74, was positioned to her right. Grand daughter, June, aged 51, was to her left. Simone, 24, knelt at Elsa’s feet and one month old, baby Jessie was carefully placed into Elsa’s arms.
Jan peered through the view finder and took several shots, requesting an arm up here, a smile over there, turn the baby’s head this way slightly. She had done many family photos over the years, but there was something different about this group. Something in the way they resembled each other. It wasn’t the shade of hair or shape of noses. Not the eye color or skin texture, but more a sweetness of expression. Contentment that overflowed their every word and movement.
The photos done, she requested a brief interview with each of them. A five minute chat to précis their lives into a newspaper column. They were charming and friendly, from youngest to eldest and by the time Jan sat down next to Elsa, she was burning with curiosity. What made these women tick?
In spite of thin, transparent skin and eyes of faded denim, Elsa was alert and sparkly, thoroughly enjoying her special day. They chatted for a few minutes and then Jan leaned a little closer. “I’m amazed at the resemblance between you all. In many ways you don't look alike. Dark hair, grey hair, blue eyes, brown eyes, but you have the same expression. A look of deep peace and joy that seems folded into your features.
The old lady chuckled softly. “My mother would have been delighted to hear you say that. From as early as I can remember, she taught me God’s Word and she lived it herself.”
That was the last thing Jan had expected to hear.
Elsa smiled. “Have a look in the bag on the back of my wheelchair. You’ll see a Bible there.” It was a large print edition, the cover finger marked with use. Elsa grasped it with difficulty and arthritic fingers fumbled through the pages. “Here we are. 2 Timothy 1, verse 5. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (NIV)
Jan sat quietly for a moment. “So you taught your daughter, like your mother taught you.”
Elsa closed her Bible. “My mother taught me everything from God’s word. Through it I’ve found peace, contentment, and forgiveness. I’ve learned to speak the truth in love and to persevere through difficult times.” She closed her eyes as though looking back through time. “I did the same with Mabel and she continued with June.” A tear brimmed and ran down her withered cheek. “Simone told me today, she is already singing scriptures to baby Jessie. My prayer is that each generation will teach the next, right until Jesus comes to take us home.”
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