I’ve known for a number of years my mom had memory problems, but chalked it up to her ripe old age of 91 this year. She’s lived with us now for thirteen months and I’ve seen a gradual decent in her mind functions.
Years ago when I worked with Alzheimer patients, it took a long time to really Get It. When I did Get It, I had this sick punch in the middle of my stomach, wondering if my mom would ever come down with Alzheimer’s disease. With time and age, my fears were fulfilled.
Before I began to consider writing for publication, I jotted down whatever crossed my mind and filed them away. While online one day, I stumbled across Amazing Instant Novelist. I was on AOL at the time. They had a 250 word contest on Forgetting. I checked the clock and saw that I had a little more than an hour left before the midnight deadline. So, I jumped in and pulled some words together. Barely edited, I popped it over to the contest.
I don’t remember how long it was before I heard back – but imagine my utter surprise when an email from Amazing Instant Novelist showed up in my mailbox one afternoon. I opened the email and found the words to Nat King Cole’s song, “Unforgettable” This is the info that followed:
“It is my pleasure to announce that you have won First Place in the Instant Stories Contest theme of Forgetting for your story Graying Embers.”
Short Story Contest- GRAYING EMBERS
First Place Winner in Amazing Instant
Novelist – Forgetting Category – 1998
Quote: “Originality is the fine art of
remembering what you hear but forgetting where
you heard it.”
—Laurence J. Peter, Canadian-U.S.
INSTANT STORIES CONTEST COMMENTS
by NOVL Est
Quote: “Carol DeVaney completely
stuns us with a compelling story of a
loss. The pain radiates from each
word. We find ourselves absorbed with
the realization of losing a loved one.”
As I said early on, the piece could stand some drastic editing, but I’m sharing it today as it was submitted.
Dim eyes stare through fields of sun drawn wheat, as I stand before my mother, a stranger on common ground.
In the darkest corners of her mind, demons danced one final dance, forcing kisses of death and turning her dusk to midnight.
Folding the new red robe, I reach to smooth the sheets, sit in her rocker, and press the afghan close to my chest, engulfed in her scent.
“Sadie died today,” Mom said. “She’s lucky, you know.”
I felt her fear and wished I could bridge the gap. She didn’t try to mask the loneliness, it simply is. I caressed her thin skinned hands then leaned forward and planted a kiss in her snowy hair. Trembling fingers close over mine as she slips me the letter.
“I wonder if I have children? Maybe so, I don’t know. A pretty woman visits, saying she’s my daughter.”
Hurt candles, spilling hot tears down my cheeks moistening the letter. I have no answers, only visions of days behind me as I read on, and wonder if I could’ve done more.
“She appears sad. It seems important, so I hug her and tell her I remember. The forgetfulness, the fear, the uncertainty of reality, scares me. Distorted images of children skipping through a thick fog haunt me, adding to my struggle.”
Though long past the age of consent, I don’t understand my mother’s sickness, nor how to deal with it. However, God has been merciful and she is safe in a bed of burning charcoal.
If you’ve never been introduced to the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease, I pray you never will. There are many in this world that care for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s never easy for the caretaker, but it’s even more unfair to the person making their journey into darkness. That darkness touches my soul.
A Smoky Mountain Wedding – Book Two, coming soon, 2013
My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.
You can find links on my website, here. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books