The Constitutional

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

“He never would’ve been out there without his hat.”

Elizabeth shook her head in suppressed exasperation. Of course her mother would find fault.

The older woman perched on the edge of the folding chair that Elizabeth and the fresh-faced health-carer had dragged over for her. The flickering episodes of weakness and disorientation had grown more frequent since Grandfather died. Perhaps it had been the shock of finding him, as her mother had, slumped against the edge of the bathtub. Perhaps it had been the letting go that followed endless years of caring for an increasingly ailing parent. Perhaps it was her mother taking on the role of family invalid.

The doctors certainly did not seem to know.

Or know the difference.

Not that Elizabeth could not understand the wish to let go. She could. Very much so.

Caring for her increasingly moody mother gave her a taste of what it had to have been like for her mother to endure the constant worry over and never-ending bitterness of a man who could no longer do what had sustained him. The amicable if somewhat taciturn grandfather had turned into a fussy, verbally cruel, bed-bound tyrant. Her mother’s father had to have become insufferable.

A little like her mother was becoming.

“They should’ve made a hat. It’s all wrong without a hat.” Her mother scowled.

The figure on the hill leaned into the wind. Impossibly lithe and utterly determined, it embodied how Elizabeth the young child had known him. As far back as she could remember, Grandfather never missed a day of what he’d called his “constitutional.” Rain or shine or wind or hail or mist or blazing sun, her grandfather would leave on his solitary afternoon walk, returning — like clockwork — when the sun had disappeared behind the hill.

Elizabeth would wait for him, her child’s body pressed against the stone fence that bordered the estate, and watch his shadow edge on home, his walking stick as part of him as any limb could be. At some point his tweed pants would materialize at the bottom of the shadow, and in another step or two the rest of him would unveil into certainty.

By the time he’d reach the gate, his windblown face would hold a smile for her. He’d nod a welcome, compensating with it for the long wait, for the yearning that he’d take her along (he never did, nor had he taken any of his children before that), and for the fluttery worry that perhaps the shadowed figure was not Grandfather at all, but in fact an elf or ghost or some trickster’s apparition.

She gazed at the silhouette on the hill, its stride frozen forever in the time before a stroke changed everything.

Hat or not, this was how he’d want to be remembered.

“He’d stuff the hat in his pocket when the wind was high,” she whispered, her voice full of sudden sorrow. “He’d pull it out and put it on a step before he reached the gate.”

Her mother’s mouth opened in preparation for automatic argument, but then the wrinkled corners turned down as a quiver shook her chin.

“He did,” her voice a child’s in elder’s clothing. “It is exactly what he’d do.”

Elizabeth squeezed her mother’s shoulder and the older woman placed a trembling hand over her daughter’s.

“It is perfect, then,” her mother murmured. “I’d forgotten. Take me home, Lizzy. Let us allow him his constitutional in peace, now that he can once more go about it.”

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

 

Out-Wheeled

Out-wheeled NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

At the spot

Where one heart stopped

And others pause

To ponder,

It stands

Out-wheeled into pallor

In grief

For what was lost

And what might have been

If there hadn’t the need

To mark this

Post

For a life that can

No longer

Wander.

 

 

 

Click here to find more information about Ghostbikes.

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Wheels

 

Meet The Rain

Photo prompt: Dale Rogerson

 

“I want to go up, Papa!”

He looked down at the downy head, at the small frail finger pointing at the Big Wheel. “It is too high, Son.”

Your heart can’t take the excitement, he thought but didn’t say. The rain made tracks on his cheeks but he didn’t wipe them. The hospital said he could take the boy home. There was not much they could do for his son anymore.

“I want to go up, Papa,” the child insisted. “I want to meet the rain there. It will be my friend tomorrow … when I go live in the sky.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

  • Dedicated with much love to E., who I’m certain is excellent friends with the sky and the rain … and whose promise to send “hellos with the rain” broke our hearts even as it had become the gift of healing and courage to her parents.

 

Five Years Ago

Carol

Carol Hornig: Much loved, deeply missed

 

Five years ago today

You passed on

Into effervescent light,

Boundless love,

And joyful belly laughs.

 

It is no wonder, for

You have lived light, even

Through deep pain.

You have breathed

Unconditional

Love

And nourished all you’d met

Along your path.

You have gifted us all with your

Laughter,

Your glorious heart.

 

You are now

One

With it all,

In the place your soul

Must have always known

As home.

 

 

Frozen In Time

Old Poland OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

They stand frozen in time.

Carving long blunted by

Wind and the loss of names

No one is left

To own,

Decode,

Or understand.

 

They stand frozen in time.

The saplings reaching up

To the heavens

The only sign of what

Even death cannot

Disband.

 

 

For the Sunday Stills challenge: Frozen

 

Sorrow and Hope

Red AmitaiAsif

Photo: Amitai Asif

 

Like pebbles on the beach

Like grains of sand

Like leaves upon the trees

Like flowers in a meadow

May we never be alone

In sorrow

And in hope.

May we find solace

In each other

And may compassion

Weave heart strands together

So we remember

How alike we are

Each one its own true flower

Each one part of the whole

In sorrow

And in hope.

 

 

For The Daily Post

A Tribute in Light

Tribute in Light DOD public domain

Tribute in Light — Photo: DOD

 

On the eve of 9/11

In this city that has been forever changed

As it had its core humanity

Revealed

In uncountable acts of kindness

Under devastation,

I revisit

The day

The sky grew dark

With smoke

And hearts broke open

With compassion.

 

 

For more information on tomorrow night’s Tribute in Light

For the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

A Structure – In Memoriam

SwissChardFarmersMarket

Photo: Kathryn Cameron

 

This is my second response to this week’s photo-challenge. However, I post it not for me but in memory of the photographer who’d taken it, Kathryn Cameron. This week marks five years since her passing and she is deeply missed by all who knew her. I know she’s thought of every single day.

Kathryn had sent me this photo of Swiss Chard from that day’s Farmer’s Market haul. She was washing the greens and something about that leaf’s structure and composition led her to position it on the window-sill and photograph it.

Beyond the stunning beauty of this natural masterpiece of leaf, I remember finding the pink veins as somehow representative of the tenacious carriers of both nutrients and chemotherapy inside Kathryn, who at the time was battling a recurrence of the cancer that would not long after take her life. The vibrant green and light shining through mirrored Kathryn’s indomitable spirit and her love of nature and all growing, flowering, living things. The leaf, placed against the sky, became a miniature Tree of Life, the manifestation of her loving heart and dedication to healing pain and trauma, offering succor, and living as a compassionate soul upon this earth. Now in the beyond.

This post is for you, Kathryn.

I love you more.

 

For The Photo Challenge

Do Not Be Silenced

The Childrens Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem
The Children’s Memorial, Yad Vashem

 

 

In remembrance of times

Of horror

Never to repeat

Never to minimize:

Do not shy

Of voice

Do not shy

Of fact

Do not shy

Of holding truth

To challenge

Those who in their blindness,

In their hunger to cause pain,

Seek to deny

The cost of hate

The force of harm

The voice of those who had been silenced.

Do not be silenced.

Be brave.

Walk tall.

Remember:

Those who seek to silence

To zip history closed

To limit learning,

Can only do so

If they make you forget

The truth

Entrusted to you — to all of us —

By those who’d perished

And those who’d managed

To survive.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post