Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)
TITLE: Regret Remains but Love Lingers
By Paula Titus
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Immediately answering Stella’s call for help produces a toothless smile from her aged face, it’s an interesting expression. The kind of smile that’s spontaneous - born from pure pleasure without forethought. The thing that makes it so interesting is the way she seems to surprise even herself by such a wide grin. There’s something in that fleeting moment of Stella’s eyes meeting another’s, when smiles are being exchanged, that causes her apparent discomfort. It never takes her very long before she realizes her angst and quickly banishes the smile from her face.
I often wonder if anyone has ever scaled the wall Stella has built around her heart, and many times I ponder the possibility that not even the Israelites themselves could bring this wall tumbling – save the effort provided by God Almighty. Even on the rare occasions when she speaks of her deceased husband, one can barely detect a note of affection. Although I do notice how frequently Stella strokes the wedding band she still wears, now forty years after his death.
There are two days out of the year when Stella’s one child usually comes to visit, Mother’s Day and Christmas. It was surprising to learn Rebecca lives within a few miles. I recall Mother’s Day last year and Stella’s insistence on not leaving her room that day, not even for bingo. Although she didn’t tell anyone the reason for her self confinement, I knew she was waiting for her daughter.
Stella was up early that Mother’s Day morning, and insisted on wearing her best duster. She watched her roommate’s constant influx of children and grandchildren parading in and out of the room bearing gifts and flowers. Stella watched their frivolity with what would appear to be mild interest to someone who didn’t know her. But I could see the glimmer of longing in her face, a distant desire to love and be loved.
Morning turned into afternoon and afternoon into evening, still – Stella waited. As I was helping Stella into her bed that night I told her I was sorry her daughter didn’t come to visit. I held her hand in mine as I spoke, I didn’t let go, in spite of her typical reaction to coil from human touch.
Stella’s only reply was, “Don’t be sorry. There were many promises I left unfulfilled when Rebecca was growing up, many moments I let slip away. Words of love left unspoken, kisses and hugs that never happened.”
That was the first time I'd ever seen Stella cry. And I cried with her, but not because I was grieving over her past mistakes – but because she was holding me. Holding me tightly, stroking my hair, and freely accepting my love. Something my own Mother had never done.
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