Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BACK TO BASICS (02/16/17)
- TITLE: God's Old Gal
By M. C. Syben
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“Who’ll give me fifty? I hear fifty, do I hear fifty-five? I hear sixty. I hear sixty-five. I hear seventy from the gentlemen in the back. Eighty. I hear eighty. Do I hear eighty-five? Ninety. I hear ninety. One hundred, I hear one hundred…”
I cringe as my husband’s celebrated work goes up for bid—these are just the signed prints—sea turtles popping up for air, king fisher’s diving for food, pelicans sunning themselves on the dock. Fred managed to paint them with the most unusual, almost human, expressions. He caught the inner soul of all living beings and, oddly, structures too.
That’s what had made him so popular. National Geographic, Life, Time, even People magazines paid hefty fees for my husband’s work. His art hung in the most prestigious museums.
Of course, I was/am very proud of him. But, I was also uncomfortable. While Fred enjoyed the Jaguar and the Mercedes, I preferred the Prius. Fred loved the 4500-square foot country home on the inter coastal, while I would have preferred living in the 1500 square-foot guest cottage. They would be sold today. I can’t afford to maintain them. But I’ll stay until the last shingle over my head is sold.
Then, it will be time to pay attention to the tugging I’ve felt since Fred passed a year ago. My roots pull at me. “Come find us.”
How had I become too busy to remember who I was? Without Fred, I catch glimpses of the past. I was the gal who went to church on Sundays, who sustained a faith that other’s once envied. I was the person who leaned on Jesus, not labels, credit cards, or check books. I was the one who had a heavenly goal with an earthly plan to get there. I helped others in need because it gave me joy. I was the gal who didn’t need status; I needed and loved God.
How had I turned into Fred’s shadow, a willing and grateful servant to his decadent life? I had loved him so, and he had loved me. My lapse began with schedules conflicting with church. I loved being Mrs. Fred, and couldn’t see how draining, how all-encompassing it was, until Fred died.
Once he was gone, a re-awakening began. Without hectic schedules, I saw the sun rising and remembered who created it. Slowly, appreciation took the place of grief as I drank morning coffee on the dock—birds singing, toads croaking, fish plopping in the water. For years, I had seen them through Fred’s paintings instead as God’s creation.
I’m thankful my Lord is forgiving. I’m grateful for second chances. I’ll devote the time I have left to His work.
“Fifty Thousand. Going once, going twice. Fifty thousand for Island at Night.”
“Such a small piece going for so much,” I think. It’s an earlier work, too. It reminds me of where I want to spend my final days…on a nice quiet island, surrounded by nature. Maybe, the salt bay of St. Croix. There are no alligators there; I loathe alligators.
Shark attacks are unheard of around that island too, not that I swim in the ocean any more. I haven’t the strength for it. But I like the idea of safe waters just in case I fall overboard. Yes, I like the idea of moving from Florida to St. Croix. I’ll still be in America as St. Croix is an American territory, but unlike Northern Florida, I’ll be warm year-round.
I’ll find a modest home among the Crucians, in the countryside, with a small pool for exercise. I’ll attend an evangelical church and tutor children to read and write. Maybe this auction will allow me to set up a scholarship fund.
“Oh dear, I’ll have to learn to drive on the left-hand side of the road, but that will be good for my brain…won’t it?” It’s always good to learn something new as a senior. Maybe I’ll learn to cook some basic Crucian dishes, too, utilizing fruit from my back yard.
How exciting. Yes, I’ll start over far from the glamour of Fred’s reputation, from being Mrs. Fred. Now, I’ll step up. I’ll get back to basics—God basics. I’ll live a simple life of worship, exercise, good food, and helping those in need.
“Ladies and Gentleman, we will now begin sale of the estate. Who will start bidding at three hundred thousand?”
Suddenly, I feel lighter.
“God, please direct your old gal’s every step. Amen.”
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