Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Time-consuming (02/24/11)
TITLE: The Plan
By Michael Throne
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Mid-sentence. She always calls me mid-sentence. It drives me nuts.
“With maybe a little lemon?”
I push the chair back from my computer and head downstairs. Honestly, it’s hard enough trying to write without the constant interruptions. I’ve come to realize that I’ll never succeed with her here.
Not that I ever would have, anyway.
I put the water on and get out a couple of cups. I slice the lemon.
My mother appears at the door, naked from the waist up.
“I came to help with the tea. I don’t want to be a bother.”
“Mom, you have to put on some clothes.”
She checks her wardrobe. “Oh…you’re right.”
Having my mother move in was the only option. There wasn’t money for a nursing home, and her dementia was getting worse by the day. But it’s a little ironic.
This isn’t why I quit my job.
My husband, Henry, says that God knows what he’s doing, and I suppose he’s right. Still, I’m disappointed.
There was a time when I thought I had a calling, an actual calling from God. I was to become a writer. We prayed about it and everything. It felt so certain, so true. I quit my job and turned a bedroom into an office. And I worked. I worked hard.
But I didn’t succeed.
Then my mother moved in.
All my friends in the choir say this was probably God’s plan all along; isn’t it great?
Honestly? No, it isn’t. It feels like bait and switch to me.
I bring our cups of tea upstairs.
Honestly...? We never got along, anyway.
We sit and talk.
“How about a game of Scrabble?”
The weeks have become months and the months are becoming years.
Henry says to keep the faith, but his words ring hollow. He’s not home with her all day. Even on the rare occasions that I do try to write, it never lasts. I’ll hear the door slam shut and I have to look for her again.
I’ve almost given up altogether.
I’m a perfectionist at heart. Unfortunately, I was a less than perfect writer and an equally poor caregiver. I’d become short with my mother and angry, too often. Even Henry noticed. It wasn’t right. I couldn’t be dedicated to both. I chose my mother. She became my priority.
It probably was God’s plan all along.
We play Scrabble till five and then I start dinner.
At midnight, I’m back at my desk, trying yet again, while my husband and mother sleep. The truth of the matter is that I can’t quit; I can’t. I somehow don’t have it in me.
Nighttime is the only time I can concentrate, the only time I can write, uninterrupted. And yet I hear a bump and realize mom must be up. Reluctantly, I once again push my chair back from the computer.
Then I hear a series of bumps.
I don’t hear a scream until I find her, at the bottom of the stairs.
After the funeral, my friends tell me what a blessing it was that I was home, able to spend time with her these last years. See, they say, God knew what he was doing all along. They ask if I’ll be going back to work soon.
I do thank the Lord for the time I had with her. But no, I won’t be going back to work.
I walk the halls at night alone, missing her. I’ve given away her clothes and put the Scrabble game in my closet, but I still feel her presence. I cry every day.
My calling, I’ve closed for the duration.
I never expected this.
Yet a hunger stirs inside me, a need. And it’s building.
My fingers are growing restless with resentment and there’s a sharpening in my soul. Anguish consumes my heart and my mourning’s turned a blazing white hot within me.
It’s coming. I can feel it coming.
My spirit explodes into a dazzling array of unexpected emotions.
I glance at my keyboard.
My thoughts run hot, then cold, ice cold. My mind’s a bitter precision.
I can’t keep it in much longer.
Ecstasy crystallizes my nerves. My life-force leaks despair.
I sit at my computer and words come pouring out.
Henry eyes me warily as my world lurches and soars, but I ride it for all it’s worth.
And finally, finally, it occurs to me.
Maybe He knows what he’s doing, after all.
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