Amelda's spirit began to wither on hearing his final diagnosis, it just seemed such an unusually severe word. “Amelia has Progeria.”
“What's that doctor? Amelia isn't three yet – how can you be sure? And what is it?”
“It's an acceleration of the ageing process. From this point on, one year will be like a normal person's eight. If your daughter reaches twelve, her body will be like an eighty-year-old's; lifespan is to about thirteen.”
The doctor's prognosis had been correct; titanic struggles and trials had been encountered from that time on.
Amelia's daddy had deserted them just before her fifth birthday. He said, “I can't handle it any more,” and left – in fact he disappeared; they never heard from him again. Jim couldn't cope with yet another of Amelia's birthday parties; all those mums with their normal children.
His friend Bob had said, “It's a crying shame that you called her Amelia. That's the name of a disease which causes limb defects.” This confirmed Jim's worst fears that their family was cursed. What a coincidence to have a daughter with an affliction of stunted limb growth.
Since that time Amelda and Amelia had been living with Great Nan Esmeralda at her country cottage.
Amelia rubbed the sleep from her sore red eyes, then asked, “Nan-Es, has Mum already left?”
Her mum had always worked to support them after Jim departed.
Later, cuddled up together, slurping hot chocolate in harmonious gulps, Amelia asked, “Nan-Es, Mum said that I may be with Jesus when I'm thirteen – can I have a special party for my birthday before I go?” Amelda had been honest with her when she had been old enough to understand.
“Yes Sweetheart, we'll make it the bestest ever. Can it be for us both? Mine's the month after – and we are growing old gracefully together.”
“Oh, Nan-Es, that would be wonderful.”
Amelia, now twelve, was already looking older than Nan-Es' eighty six years, albeit in a 3 ft. frame. The back of her head was like the scraggy haunch of an Arctic Fox with mange. The skin furrows over her face made her resemble an elderly Hispanic female. She had fingers that were bony with big knuckle lumps giving them the appearance of small oak twigs infested by galls.
“Right then, Amelia, what shall we do for our birthday bash?”
“You said that people were betting on whether you or me would be with Jesus first.”
Esmeralda cut in, “I was just joking with your mum, Darling.”
“You know I love Jesus and I'm not afraid of dying. Nan-Es, can we have a Jesus Party?”
“What's one of those?”
“We can make it up. You could invite your friends and me mine.”
“OK Sweetie, but you tell me what you want – I've no idea.”
“We could make pretty invitation cards – I could paint colourful flowers and you could do the writing.”
“We could have a Bible person fancy dress contest with a prize for the best.”
“Yea, that would be good. I could sew our outfits. Think I'd like to be Miriam but I'm not sure how – I'll have a try though. What about you Sweetie Pie? ”
“Mary, and I'll dress a doll as baby Jesus. I think that would be good. And my friends could have a Bible animal and flower painting competition like at Sunday School.”
“We'd better get cracking then Mary or we'll never get these outfits ready in time. We've got about a month!”
A couple of weeks later Amelia had a bad flare up of her arthritic joints. She had to be excluded from the party plans – strict instructions to rest up. But, Nan Esmeralda kept at it and gave a progress report to Amelia about every three minutes.
A few days later she said, “Mum, my arms and legs really hurt bad. I want to go to bed.”
Amelda picked her up, cradled her and carried her upstairs.
“Mum, I love you.”
“I love you too, my Sweet.”
Amelia was asleep before Mum had tucked her in tight. Her lovely life expired that night. The disease had won the battle. She died just one week from her thirteenth Birthday.
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