Slice of Life March Challenge. No. 27.
This is my mother-in-law’s story.
Over the course of several years, she suffered a series of strokes and finally one left her without the power of speech. While we were home for a visit, Carl and I took her for a drive along a familiar Oklahoma-Texas panhandle highway. Riding in the seat behind her, my heart felt her agony and I scratched out some notes on the back of an envelope. From them, I wrote Without Words.
The day seems young, wrapped in the morning light. Here and there wildflowers recklessly splash vibrant color. At the edge of town, grain elevators stand tall, unbending in the winds, ageless. The highway is still two lanes–one running west and one, east. Cattle graze in the fields. Dust billows behind a pickup racing along a county road. All is as it has been for decades. Nothing has changed.
But I have grown old.
My body is shriveled.
My steps are slow.
My hands unsteady.
And I can no longer speak.
As the sun warmly caresses my sunken cheek, I close my eyes. The hum of tires on asphalt lulls me, sleep beckons, and memories transport me to a former day.
The wind teases my jet black hair and swirls my cotton dress around my knees. My skin is smooth, taunt, tan. As I latch the barn door, I notice the strength in my hand. Voices of children–my children–float past me like distant music. They are so young, so full of life. I pause, lean against the corral, and breathe deeply of the early summer not yet parched by the blistering sun.
My life stretches ahead of me,
miles upon miles yet to live.
The rhythm of tires upon pavement has stopped. A chill steals over my body, and slowly I open my eyes. The sun is gone, leaving only a soft glow like dying embers in a winter fireplace.
I look down. In my lap, my hands are spotted, wrinkled, without strength. I look up. There are no miles ahead. Behind me, far behind me, mile after mile, stretches my life–a tale passionately lived. Stories in the shadows wait patiently to be told.
But I . . .
I am without words
at the end of this road.
© Alice Nine
Grain Elevators, Darrouzett, TX
Writing about my writing
During last year’s March 2016 Slice of Life Story Challenge I wrote a slice one day (The Day My Teacher DIed) and then shared extensively about my writing the next day (The Marmalade Cat). [links will open in new windows] I had hoped to do this again during #SOL17. This morning, I decided to do so, posting Without Words. So tomorrow, I will share its back story and my thinking as I worked through several revisions.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for hosting
2017 Slice of Life Story Challenge
This is beautiful. You have an amazing way with words.
Thanks, Jen. You might like my post today (Tuesday) on the crafting.
What an amazing tribute to a beautiful woman. I can’t help but think about how your words turn her tragedy into triumph: At the beginning “without words” sounds like a sentence, but at the end, it rings of a life lived to make you speechless–as you look back and marvel in awe at all you have accomplished–a life well lived.
Thank you, Morgan. I’m so glad you saw the “tragedy into triumph.” The possibility of the two different views becomes even greater if I eliminate the prologue about the strokes and use the phrase “And I am without words” instead of the words “And I can no longer speak” in the last line of the poem.
So hard to read because it was well said – my mother in law found herself in this position years ago. It was so hard on all of us but especially her. Thanks for sharing this piece.
Thank you for coming by and sharing, Joanne.
You have so poignantly imagined her point of view – beautifully done.
Thanks, Tara. It was an interesting experience in writing to jot down the notes in the moment as we were together in the car. It helped to take her point of view.
Your words and pictures are lovely. You have done a wonderful job telling of “my life–a tale passionately lived” with respect and compassion. Such gentle thoughts for such a tough situation.
Thank you, Jenan. “Gentle thoughts” — I like that.
It is beautifully written, a lovely way to share about your mother-in-law, Too soon those years pass by.
Yes, those years pass like a vapor… much too fast. 🙂
You’ve captured such a heartbreaking experience for your mother in law and all who love her so beautifully in this slice. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Lisa. I appreciate your words.
This is beautifully written. It must be hard to be trapped within your own mind. I have seen this happen with me aunt.
Thank you, Robert. You say it well, “trapped within your own mind.”
You have such a gift of words! I love how you told this beautiful tale with so few words. From Texas, I was instantly taken back there and could picture myself driving along that road, too. Thank you for sharing this.
Ah, thank you! We have share some geographical memories. You might like reading about my crafting in today’s (Tuesday) post.
I’ll check it out!
So sad, the loss of words, life mostly behind… yet such beautiful memories and quiet sharing in the present.
Thanks for coming by, Diane. I like your words, “quiet sharing in the present.”
This is beautiful and sad. I felt transported back into her memories.
Thank you, Leah, for sharing that because one of my goals is get the reader to “enter into the story.”
So well written ! Loved reading this
Thank you, Jennifer. You might like reading my reflective notes about the crafting in Tuesday’s post.