Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FRAGILE (02/23/17)
- TITLE: Echoes of Yesteryear
By Marlene Bonney
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It was funny to hear about our elders in escapades when they were younger, their misdeeds and embarrassing moments spread out like a tabloid’s headlines. Uncle Johnny as a runaway circus wantabe, was one of my favorites. Then there was the time Grandpa broke Grandma’s delicate bone china teacup and spent hours painstakingly gluing the fragments together out in the barn, only to find out she had always hated its design. And, how some childhood bullies called her the “shrinking violet of Ford county.” She had a colorful past, even as she drank in the antics of our relatives, her sense of humor painting the tales as vividly as artists’ illustrations in books. She was one-of-a-kind, our Auntie, and we cherished her for her charming wit and sharp intellect, a delightful combination that somehow went together like salt and pepper.
It was so sad to watch Auntie decline as she aged. It was only to be expected. After all, she seemed so old as we had sat at her feet as youngsters. Now, in comparison, she was ancient, a mere caricature of her former self. She lived with Grandma most of her life, dedicated to her mother as only a devoted daughter can be. She never married, although she told us tales of handsome suitors in her past. None had passed muster, apparently, for she chose spinsterhood as her companion.
After Grandmother passed on, Auntie Vi became more withdrawn. Oh, she could still chatter like a prancing monkey on occasion, but those times were declining along with her memories. As fragile as a bubble caught on a wand, her wispy thoughts were prone to vanish almost as soon as they appeared—until we could only catch a glimpse of our former “keeper of the past.”
“Where does she go?” when a started sentence trailed off into the distance like a fading jet stream in the sky.
“It’s as if her thoughts scatter in the wind like a dandelion’s blown puffball,” our literary daughter commented.
“Easter is just around the corner. Maybe we can get her to open up after the family reunion dinner,” our own Vi (Auntie Violet’s namesake) suggested.
That Sunday after we all were full of ham and apple pie, Auntie Vi rocked gently in the living room’s only plush chair while we, with creaking, protesting bones, ungracefully sat ourselves down on the hardwood floor at her feet.
“Auntie, remember when Benny-boy swallowed the marble,” cousin Jean prompted.
A fleeting smile touched Auntie Vi’s silent lips as the rest of us retold the tale like a fill-in-the-blank essay. One by one, story after story replayed itself through our memories of Auntie Violet’s memories. Our Vi spun them into written prose, her pen scribbling over pages as fluid as a wind-blown stream.
Ninety-eight year old Auntie Violet rocked on through the afternoon, surrounded by her loved ones; taking in the ambiance like a flower soaking up the sun.
“Who was that guy who proposed to her under the weeping willow tree,” little Daisy piped in, “you know, the ‘devil may care’ beau?”
“What did you say, Auntie?”
A faint whisper filled the silence like a willow wisp, “Frank.”
One word, her last word, slipped through a crack in the locked doors of her memories. Auntie Violet, as serene as a napping old tabby cat, passed out of this world and into the next while her tearful, awed loved ones placed their last kisses on her weathered—still warm—cheeks.
“She died as she lived,” centenarian former Pastor Frank eulogized,” gentle as a dove and ethereal as an angel’s wing. She was the only woman I ever loved, a Christian saint so dedicated to another’s care that she could not allow herself freedom to follow her tender heart. And I admired her for that.”
Twenty-four hours later, Frank Gibson died in his sleep. He was laid to rest beside Auntie Violet, joined together in death as they had not been in life.
Vi Ramsey published her great-great aunt’s memories in an obscure novel entitled, “Fleeting segments of a Fading Violet.”
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