Our June Silver Medal Winner

Sheri Falconer enjoys writing for the sake of writing, exploring ideas and imagining what could be, playing with words to paint a picture or maybe just picking up a brush to paint one, relishes a hearty discussion, sharing stories and playing with perspectives. She loves getting lost in a good book and dreams of seeing her own novels in print. When she’s not writing, she’s sewing, sketching, training for a triathlon or perhaps just spending a quiet moment with her husband and 2 children at home in Hanover, Ontario.  More of her writing can be found on her blog at https://dancingthroughthewaves.blogspot.ca/

What the judges had to say:

"A beautiful depiction of a life well lived."

"Lovely!"

The photo prompt:



The unedited story:

ELLA MAY
by Sheri Falconer


She held a worn beauty all her own in her quiet hands. Time had not drawn the life from her.  Rather, she had breathed it out, day after night, night after day, month after year, into decade after decade. Breathed it into her family. Poured it out into her children. Braided it into her daughter’s flaxen hair, now silver. Washed and bandaged her son’s scraped knees, now covered in tailored suit pants. Perked coffee and cooked bacon and eggs for her husband at dawn so he could head to the field ready to face the day. 
 
Her hands had held Harold’s large hands for fifty-four years. She’d said “yes” at eighteen. So young!  A simple ban of gold a symbol of that promise, still wrapped her ring finger. His dreams became her dreams, the dreams of her youth she opened her palm and let the wind carry away. 
 
She had held babies in her arms, held her children’s small hands. Marveled at Dean’s small fingers grasping her own. Watched in wonder as Daniel took his first steps. Took turns holding vigil Harold when Carol had a high fever for two days when she was three. Beamed with pride as Carol played at her piano recital. The girl had talent. How she and Harold had laughed when Daniel told his jokes at dinner. They’d held each other as they buried their eldest, Dean, after the car crash. 
  
Over and over again, she folded clothes, pressed collars, scrubbed floors and windows, baked bread, pies and cookies. Swept the dirt from the porch. Dusted the shadows of yesterday from her sills and coffee table. 
 
Hoed her strength into the ground, gently placing seeds and covering them with soil, watering and weeding to grow food for her family. Year after year, from dark top soil she drew tender tendrils of sugar snap peas and green beans, staking and stringing them, bright red tomatoes, yellow squash, prickly cucumbers and large pumpkins. She plucked raspberries and strawberries by the hundreds to make jam worthy of the blue ribbon at the county fair.
 
As agile fingers snapped crisp green beans into a big bowl for dinner, she told stories of her own childhood, gifting a spoken heritage to her children. A wealth of yesteryears wisdom in an afternoon found in her company. A child, teen, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, she’d worn many hats. Born into a depression, learned to cake with beets, to make do, seen a war, build planes in the factory to do her part. Life was for the living when you are young. Idleness leads to the devil’s work.
 
She talked of those she wished she’d worn, been Joe McGillavry’s date to the dance, a teacher, a nurse. She’d never touched the ocean, Pacific or Atlantic. But no matter. Let go of your shudda-coulda-woulda’s and what-could-have-beens. No point in making wishes of hindsight, it’ll grant you nothing but heartache. Seize the day. Waste not, want not. Don’t be too big for your britches. Don’t blink, you might miss the moment. Lessons lived and badges of honour to those who survive them. 
 
Once nimble hands slowed with the ache of arthritis, had stitched into her quilts pieces of life, a christening gown, Harold’s shirts, this gingham check -a scrap of the first dress she made for her daughter. Carol lived in California now, though she was due to visit in September. She’d patched those jeans Daniel tore leaping the fence with the same black cloth. Daniel left the farm to work in an office. He was a company man now. Though he and Harold had butt heads, Daniel had carved his own road and she was proud. And Dean, that blue one there, was part of his favourite shirt.  Sometimes life isn’t fair. How she missed especially him. A threadbare blanket of piecework memories rested over the wooden swing to pad her back as she sat, her hands resting in her lap. 
 
Beneath paper thin translucent skin, blood still flowed, a stoic strength surpassing years in the sun.  Blue veins woven and branched like ancient rivers coursing blood back to an unwavering heart.  If one thing held true, it was Ella May’s heart. A faith as deep-rooted as the mighty oak, but housed in fine bone china, faith in her God, her husband, her family and her country. Time etched lines in her sun tinted porcelain, as it wove a veil over her memory. Sometimes she forgot that her Harold had passed on last year. The knife edged sharpness of that loss run across a wetting stone when the realization returned.
 
She knew the value of stillness, taking a moment just to sit, remember and breathe. Resting in the truths, peace in a depth of living recalled, in the man that Harold was, holding on to what they’d shared, in the children they cherished, intangible and dreamlike in moments of fog. Time makes dust of us all, but it does not dampen the soul contented. Her stories fading with her quilts, yet love remains. Passed on in gentle memories of those have graced her presence in lucid moments, to sit with and know the richness that Ella May lived.

*****


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