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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)

TITLE: Cat’s Pajamas
By Carole Robishaw


“Ousa, wowsa!”

"Now you're on the trolley!"

“That’s the Cat’s Pajamas!”

“Bees Knees!”


“Don't take any wooden nickels.”

DING! The timer went off.

“Whew, that was some round, trying to remember all those slang terms made my head hurt.”

Several of the others were laughing. Nodding their heads in agreement.

Miss. Morgan stood up, “You did very well with that round everybody. You recalled those 20’s slang terms pretty quickly. Why, you threw them out there so fast, we actually made it all the way around the circle before the timer went off. Now we’ll just draw another card, I think we can get in one more round before lunch is served…”

Her voice faded out as she realized everybody was looking at Janie.

Huddled in her rocker, Janie sat, hands held tightly in her lap, body quivering. Streaks ran down her cheeks, despite the effort she was exerting to suppress the tears.

Hands began to reach out. The whir of wheel chairs was heard. Chair legs scrapped. Slowly everybody formed a tight circle around her. As tight a circle as it is possible to get with walkers, wheelchairs, and rockers. Hands reached out. Those able to reach touched her. Frail hands stroked her hair, one ever so gently squeezed her shoulder, another, twisted with disease, patted her back.

One very large pair, with misshapen old fingers, wrinkled and gnarled with arthritis, covered with age spots, were stretching to cover Janie’s hands. Slowly her body stopped shaking. He held her hands as tightly as he dared, trying hard not to squeeze so hard that he hurt her. They looked deep into each other’s eyes.

“It’s okay, honey, really it is. All that was a long time ago.” He crooned into her ear, leaning as far towards her as he was able to, straining the strap that held him upright in his chair.

Miss Morgan fought to suppress a tear or two herself, as she watched the way they all lovingly supported each other. “Janie, how can we help you?”

Slowly Janie fought the words past the lump in her throat. “I suddenly had these memories, as a child. Sitting there listening to my parents laugh at a radio show. So many of these same phrases were being used, I… I was just… suddenly there again. I wanted my mother. I wanted to crawl in her lap and tell her not to go out that night. For her to please stay home with me. So many memories, so jumbled. The police. They came to tell us mommy and daddy were… an accident… all I remember after that is the pain. Things were never the same again. It hurts so to remember.”

The room was filled with murmurings of love and sympathy. Everybody totally involved in trying to comfort Janie. Well, almost everybody.

James was still sitting in the corner of the room, muttering “Cat’s pajamas” over and over. James was lost in his own world, his mind trapped on the words and unable to get any further. “Cat’s pajamas, yes, it surely is, the cat’s pajamas.” It was obvious that he also had a strong memory, one that was trying to get through the confusion caused by a combination of dementia and drugs.

Miss Morgan wanted to help, but knew that right now they needed to work their way past the pain. “Janie, tell us about your mother.”

Janie leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. Slowly she began to talk. “My mother was beautiful. I remember her hair, long, dark, and shiny. We brushed our hair a hundred strokes, together, every night.” A smile crept into her voice. “She sang me to sleep. I can still hear her singing about Jesus. Momma loved Jesus. She said Jesus was always there beside her and that He was with me, too. I miss my parents, but I know that one day soon we will laugh together again as we walk the streets of Heaven.”

Slowly, the room filled with music as Janie sang and the all the others, even James, soon joined in.

“Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so!”

“Jesus loves me! He who died,
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.”

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This article has been read 585 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 01/17/10
Congratulations on your insight of how long-term pain resurfaces, even in the fun that introduces your story, and how God's grace also reaches into the same painful memories to release fresh hope. Well done.
Glynis Becker01/18/10
Beautiful! I could feel the pain of memories and the love of her friends that surrounded her. Well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/18/10
Your descriptions gave a real picture of the pain, as well as the caring, in this room. I love how you ended with a note of "grace" for Jane. Lovely story.
Catrina Bradley 01/18/10
The emotional pain never really goes away - great job showing this, and on Janie's almost child-like character remembering the parents she lost.
Mona Purvis01/18/10
Do we ever get too old to wince at hurts from the past? No, I don't think so.
This gentle story offers sweetness, caring and a loving spirit.

Barbara Lynn Culler01/18/10
Beautiful story.
I was hoping James would react to the song!
Kimberly Russell01/18/10
This was a hard one for me to read as my mother is in a nursing home. She has chosen to be there even though we thought we could do better. She won't talk about anything and withdraws into her own pain--present and otherwise. This reminds me that I must be a little more understanding of her, even when I don't understand at all. Very well written- sucked the emotion right out of me!
Karlene Jacobsen01/18/10
Well-written, emotional piece.
Chely Roach01/18/10
What a lovely, touching story. Well done.
Colin Swann01/20/10
A really moving piece showing sweet care and kindness, which God loves. Long range memory recall is always better than the short in older age. Thank you for creating such a moving piece.

Ruth Brown01/20/10
So touching. Your descriptions of the elderly folks were very well done. This piece will long be remembered in our hearts.
Carol Penhorwood 01/20/10
Yes, it's like Noel said, "long term pain does resurface" and you have written of it so well. You have a good understanding of older people and the pain they encounter. Super job!
Carol Slider 01/20/10
What a sweet and tender story, beautifully written! I loved your depiction of how all the residents comforted Janie. Well done.
George Parler 01/26/10
Very touching indeed. Good job of measuring out the love to equal the pain. Well done.
Joanney Uthe07/03/10
This is a very moving story that definately shows the power of music to heal. Thanks for sharing it.
Mariane Holbrook 07/03/10
How beautiful! I could almost feel the tension in the room, then the calm being spread over it like a warm Linus blanket when they started singing about Jesus. This is such a touching story! I wish it could find its way into print in the right magazine or venue.
Carol Penhorwood 07/03/10
I was touched the FIRST time I read this, Carole, with your sensitivity and the power of music to move the soul. You could feel the emotion in this piece. Great job!!
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/03/10
I liked this piece the first time I read it and liked it even more the second time around. That is one of my favorite songs.
Edy T Johnson 07/03/10
This is very realistic and full of compassion. And, it is very readable, too. Well done, friend!