Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: What Leanne Saw
By Margaret Gass
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Last fall, it had seemed unlikely that they would be able to attend the wedding, much less get up and dance. Lisa shuddered as she remembered getting the phone call that no one ever wants: “Mrs. Dennis? There’s been an accident…can you come to County General? Dr. Tyler will meet you there.”
They’d been driving back from their annual visit to the coast, a trip they’d been making since falling in love thirty-one years before. Her mother, forty-six, had been single for nearly eleven years when they met; he was forty-seven and a widower who had spent seventeen years alone. Neither had expected to meet a life partner so late in life, and yet partners they had been--in everything. Together they ran an outreach ministry for young adults who had made wrong choices. Together they tended a small but productive garden in their back yard. Together they knelt in prayer each night, and laughed together when Lisa’s mom couldn’t get back up.
Lisa wiped away an unbidden tear, and struggled to focus on the doctor’s words. “Your mom has suffered damage to her spleen and has multiple fractures, but she will recover. Her husband,” he continued in a slightly staccato tone, “has yet to come out of the drug-induced coma we put him in to reduce the swelling of his brain. When he awakes, we will tell him that we amputated his left leg, just above the knee. There was just too much damage.”
The young man who had veered across the lane had escaped unharmed with minor cuts and bruises. He had not been drinking, but he had been speeding . He lost control on the wet, slippery roads and rammed his Ford F-350 head-on into her parents’ candy red Camaro. It hadn’t been difficult to forgive him, but it had been difficult to watch her mom hurt all over again as she faced losing the man she loved, her soul mate. He had been the strong one, ever protective of her mother. It was one of the reasons that Lisa had so easily loved him and accepted him as father at the age of nineteen: he loved her mother unconditionally. She didn’t call him stepfather; he was her daddy.
It was that model of love that Lisa had sought in her own marriage, and she wanted the same for Leanne. Leanne and her fiancé had talked of postponing her wedding, but her parents wouldn’t hear of it. “We will dance at your wedding,” they had said when her dad had been released from the hospital.
And so they were. Lisa smiled as she watched Dad give Mom one last twirl as the last bars of “In the Mood” faded, as he held her in his lap and deftly maneuvered his wheelchair between the other dancers. Mom’s eyes were locked on his, and both were beaming as their lips met for a tender kiss. They saw no one but each other, and that’s what Leanne saw.
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