Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PHOTOS and/or SOUVENIR(S) (vacation) (07/16/15)
TITLE: Growing up Green
By Francy Judge
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Dad usually took the pictures. In this one, we’re all sitting on the top row of the Pirate Ship ride at Adventureland. Our mouths are open wide, screaming. Mom’s arms are stretched across Lindsy and Joseph, the youngest, to stop them from flying off the seat. I don’t think her skinny arms could’ve done much to hold them in, but she had to try. Mom looked young enough to be the eighth sibling sitting next to us. We had to sit down and have an ice pop afterwards so her stomach could recover. Dad teased her. “You’re getting too old for these rides.”
“Never. Just a tiny bit nauseous. I’ll be ready for the rollercoaster in five minutes.”
“I’ll hold the puke bag.” He winked at her.
I sort through the shoebox of photos and pull out another trip picture. In this one, we’re climbing the narrow steps to the Polar Caves in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Eight green shirts glowing next to stalactites. I look more like Mom here as I turned fourteen and caught up to her height and wore my auburn hair long and straight like she did. Lindsy clung to a corner of Mom’s shirt. “What if a bear sees us? Will it attack?”
“Don’t worry. There are no bears in these caves for tourists.” Lindsy felt better, but I remember thinking we might be the first family to attract a wild animal to our shirts. Then Mom whispered her favorite verse, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” She recited it often to get to stick in our heads. I would look at Billy, my closest brother, and roll my eyes. He understood me.
The next picture I find is at a campground. Mom is wearing her flowered head scarf; her face is pale and gaunt. The green shirt didn’t help to brighten her complexion. I wanted to suggest we buy bright pink for the next trip. Dad held her hand in the picture, so either I or Billy must have held the camera. He didn’t smile.
That was her last trip. I taped the picture to Mom’s memory poster. It would be nice for the family to see her happiest times. When I finished, and wiped my eyes, I had to laugh. In every picture we wore our green shirts. It was the perfect opening to my speech. She raised us to love our family and God. She never lost one of us…
Five years later, I brought my two kids to Adventureland. We wore green.
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