Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Clarify (10/15/15)
- TITLE: The Fifth Freckle
By Donna Powers
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I was waiting, in the emergency room.
This afternoon, my sister Anne had called me about our Dad. He’d had a fall; his boss told her Dad had been walking in the hallway and suddenly slumped forward and landed on the floor. He’d still been breathing, but they had not been able to get him to open his eyes – so they’d sent him here.
I’d arrived four hours ago: breathlessly sprinting up to the counter with legs like jelly and hands shaking. A nurse had told me they’d taken Dad to surgery, and that a doctor would come and talk to me. She had looked at me kindly; her eyes had seemed to have a gentle smile buried within them.
The doctor had tried to explain what was going on. He’d told me Daddy would be in the recovery room for a few hours before I could see him. But, although I know the doctor spoke to me in simple words, none of it had sounded like English. He may as well have spoken Martian.
After the doctor left, I’d stumbled over to the chair and cried. Tears streamed down my face: slick drops of misery. I knew Dad was getting older, but I couldn’t bear to think of him in pain or disabled. My sister and I have been so close to Dad - especially since our Mom passed away when we were born. I didn’t know how we’d cope with whatever that doctor had told me. I was a hostage to my fear and despair.
The room was still full of sensations, but now they seemed blurred and unreal.
And, then, a warm hand firmly grasped my own. It was a hand exactly like mine, except: it had five freckles on the left hand.
It was my sister, Anne.
We are identical twins, and almost everyone has a problem telling us apart – except Dad. When we were little girls, he’d seen that although we both have freckles, I have just four freckles on my left hand; while Anne has five. He’d joked with us that the Fifth Freckle set us apart. And, even though Anne’s birth had preceded mine by only 20 minutes, he told her that Fifth Freckle made her the Big Sister. She’d been mothering me ever since, and her five-freckled hand had always been a source of strength and love.
She was here now; that familiar, hand enveloping me with the comfort I’d needed.
“Jan, what did the doctor say?” she asked, anxiously.
“I don’t know!” I wailed. “He told me, but I just couldn’t understand him. None of the words he said could possibly have applied to Daddy!”
She gripped my hand harder. “Oh, Jan: it’s OK. It’s going to be OK. Come with me. Let’s ask them to have the doctor explain it again.”
The doctor came back. He didn’t seem to mind saying it again. And this time, I understood it. “The tests show your Dad had a stroke. A blood vessel burst in his brain, and the bleeding was pressing on the brain. We needed to do surgery, to relieve the pressure.” He assured us we could see him in about half an hour.
“Oh, poor Daddy,” I cried. “What will we do?”
Anne didn’t let go of my hand. She led me back to the chair and hugged me, tight. “Don’t worry, Jan. We’ll get through it with God’s help. Let’s pray.”
I nodded, numbly. And, with Anne’s hand in mine, I listened as she prayed. “Dear God, please help our father. You created him and You know what is going on with him. Help us to understand this, and please help us to trust You for the resolution.”
The dog smell and the crying baby siren were back. The harsh lemon/lime light was there, once again – and the concrete chair was solid against my back. I looked into my sister’s eyes and breathed a sigh of relief.
Once again, I am waiting. But this time – despite the difficult news I now understood - I praised God that I’m not waiting alone.
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