Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN (04/13/17)
TITLE: A Few Stitches in Time
By Ellen Carr
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Living two thousand kilometres away, at the opposite end of the country, my wife Marie and I had to move fast. Somehow we managed to pack our cases and catch two connecting flights to my home town. As the eldest son, I knew I needed to get there quickly. All of my siblings had to travel to get there too.
My mother's next-door neighbour, Thelma, met us at the airport and took us to the old family home. As we arrived another of Mum's friends was just leaving.
“That's Rita. She'll have dropped some food off. Now, you call me if there's anything you need,” said Thelma. “If there's any way I can help at all.”
“Thanks so much, Thelma. We will.” I was glad that Mum had such good friends.
As Mum opened the door my breath caught in my throat. She looked older and just plain sad.
“Mum,” was all I could say. I wrapped her in my arms and we sobbed together. It was the first time I had cried in years.
As the day wore on other family members arrived, gradually filling the house with a sombre busyness. Mum wanted everyone together, so every available space was taken up with a bed or someone's belongings. And when the funeral director visited, the whole family made the necessary plans together.
Marie and I slept on a sofa-bed in the lounge room and kept our cases in my parents' room and our clothes in their wardrobe. It wasn't comfortable but it meant the family could be together. As the family chose photos to show at the funeral we reminisced over times past, laughing together at some of our shared memories. It was a bitter-sweet time.
Needing some time alone, I took myself off for a walk along the river while Mum picked out the clothes that Dad would be buried in. Everything seemed to be in hand, so I relaxed and enjoyed my wander along the old familiar path with its stunning water vistas.
The day of the funeral dawned crisp and sunny. A nice day to see Dad off. I managed to fit in another walk after breakfast and then it was time to get ready.
Marie and I took over the bathroom to get ourselves spruced up. But, as I pulled on my suit trousers something was wrong. They fitted around my waist but their hems were dragging on the floor. They were at least two inches too long and they looked ridiculous. As I put my hand in a pocket and pulled out a handkerchief it dawned on me. These were Dad's pants. This was Dad's suit. I scrabbled through the wardrobe looking for my own suit. Nothing.
“I know what's happend, Jason,” yelped Marie. “Your mother's given the undertakers your suit instead of Dad's. He's wearing it!”
So now, what on earth was I going to wear?
“Come on!” yelled Marie. “We'll take it over to Thelma's place. She'll help us take these pants up. We've still got time. I'll work on one leg while she works on the other. I'm not letting you loose with a needle and thread, Jason!”
So we hot-tailed it over to Thelma's place and she and Marie had the hems taken up in record time. Every now and then Thelma put her hand over her mouth to suppress a giggle. What a great story she would have to tell her friends.
And now, here I am telling it too. It's funny now, but back then I was not laughing.
Based on a true story. Names and details have been changed for anonymity.
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