Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: AGREE TO DISAGREE (05/04/17)
TITLE: The Brewing Storm
By Leola Ogle
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Her gaze shifted to the woman inspecting the grape lamp – those glass-ball grapes popular in the sixties and seventies. Mariah turned when Grandpa coughed. The stricken look on his face reminded her the lamp was something Grandma had made.
“Do you want to keep the lamp, Grandpa?” Mariah asked after she walked over to him.
“No, it’s fine. Can’t keep it all.” But, he turned his head to hide the tears.
Mariah took money from the woman for the lamp, then sat in a lawn chair next to Grandpa. “Might storm,” he said.
“Yep. You okay, Grandpa? I know you’re missing Grandma.”
“I’m tired. I might just nap in this chair under this tree.”
And Grandpa did. While he slumped in the chair and softly snored, Mariah took care of straggling customers. And, reminisced about her grandparents. She was pulled from her thoughts when Grandpa stirred. He yawned and stretched. “Hey, baby girl. Did you sell it all yet?”
“Nope, Grandpa. I think we’ll have to donate some stuff to a charity. And, you haven’t called me baby girl in years.”
“I know, but you look so troubled. I’m sorry about you and Sean.”
Now it was Mariah’s eyes that welled with tears. “How did you and Grandma last all these years?”
“Compromise. Agreeing to disagree. Saying ‘I’m sorry.’ A lot. And forgiving one another.”
Mariah swiped at her tears. “When I was little I thought you and Grandma hated each other. You were always fussing and arguing.”
Grandpa tilted his head back and laughed. “Ah, honey, we just liked to snap at each other because we were as different as night and day. But, we loved each other very much.”
“I asked Mama one time why you and Grandma were mean to each other. She told me, ‘Their views on everything are polar opposites. It only sounds like they’re being mean but it’s just sarcastic bantering.’ I was a kid and didn’t understand what polar opposites meant.” Mariah patted Grandpa’s hand and got up to take care of a customer. When she sat back down, Grandpa continued.
“When we were dating, we broke up because Iris, your grandma, wanted to have four kids and I only wanted two. Iris insisted we’d take our kids to church and I didn’t want to go to church. We belonged to different political parties and had vehement arguments about that. We were at odds about many things. But, we loved each other, so we got married and compromised. We vowed to respect each other’s views and opinions, and not back down just to appease the other. It worked.”
Mariah snorted. “Sean pretended to compromise. I wanted a baby. He didn’t. He said that’s the reason he got involved with Becca and left me. Ugh, I don’t want to think about it. So, Grandma wanted four kids, you wanted two, so you compromised and had three?”
Grandpa grinned. “We had your mom, then Bobby. We decided a boy and girl made a perfect family. David was an unplanned, but welcome surprise. And, of course, after ten years, I started going to church with everyone. I’ve never regretted that decision.”
“But, you two argued all the time. Grandma scared me as a kid. She seemed angrier than you. You were quieter.” Thunder rumbled in the distance. A breeze kicked up leaves on the lawn. The atmosphere matched Mariah’s mood. How had complete opposites like her grandparents made marriage work? She and Sean had a lot in common. Or, at least, she thought they had.
“Politics. It was the thing we disagreed on most. I was laid back about it while your grandma was passionate and vocal about it. All that arguing you heard was just that – sarcastic barbs at each other. We never ceased to love and respect each other. That’s the key. When your grandma’s Alzheimer’s started, I actually missed our heated arguments.”
Mariah smiled. “Maybe there’s a few arguments in her still. Are you sure about this, Grandpa?” Mariah pointed at the yard sale. Grandpa had decided to sell the house and live in the facility where Grandma was. They would move Grandma from the general living floor to a small apartment they could share.
“I’m sure. I need to be with my sweetheart. And, Mariah, honey, don’t give up on love.”
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