ONE with the Truth

flash fiction, rocking chairIt’s taken me 89 years, two months, and 26 days to figure it out.

But Lord help me, I have figured out what no one told me all these living days.

I don’t blame the people in my early life. My grandmother’s folk (she had 14 siblings) spent their lives just surviving. The earlier generations didn’t have time to figure out what was real, because life was just too damned hard.

But we technocratic, soft-skinned, thin-skinned spoiled people of the 21st century – we have no excuse. We have toilets and warm showers and grocery stores packed with food. We have vehicles of all sizes and shapes to transport us anywhere; free education from 5 to 18 years; easy chairs to sit in and stare into our gas fireplaces just to ponder. No need to chop our wood and cook our meat on that fire. We just use it to warm our souls and ponder. Yes, to just think.

Not that thinking helped me figure it out. The opposite, really.

It was watching. Watching the other sides mingle and collide with us, tease and flirt with us, practically begging us to see  See   SEE!  what’s really happening. To understand . . .

“Granny? Gran? Are you okay?”

My 32-year-old granddaughter, Patrice, thinks I’m going bonkers. She laughs though when I use that word: bonkers. She says my language is archaic. In fact, she thinks I’m archaic. I decide to tell her, now, the real story.

I open my mouth and whisper, because what I’m about to say is too damn important for my regular voice. Besides, I learned long ago that a soft voice attracts busy ears.

“What’s that, Gran?” Patrice bends close to my rocking chair,  draping a soft blanket around my shoulders. “It’s too cold in here. Come down to the den with the rest of us.”

I grab Patrice’s blouse and pull her toward me, her hazel eyes widening with surprise.

“I need to tell you a secret first. It isn’t really a secret, it’s the truth, and it’s time for us to see it. To feel it. To understand it.”

Patrice steps away from me, her back straightening, shoulders stiffening. “Gran, you’re scaring me. Did you have enough water today? Are you dehydrated again?”

I let out a “Bah!” Life is not here for the young. We elders should have more time . . . now that we see what’s going on around us.

I try again. “Remember that day, this past winter, when I pointed out the computer screen to you just at the exact moment?”

flash fiction, grandmother's wisdom

Patrice shakes her head impatiently. “Coincidence, Gran. I don’t why you were so excited. So what that the numbers appeared just as you and I checked the time?”

“The ‘numbers’?” I shout. “More than just ‘numbers’! 1 11 11:11. What are the chances? When will that ever happen again in anyone’s lifetime? This was a sign!”

My granddaughter sighs. “January 11, at 11:11. No biggie.”

I bang my cane on the wood floor. Patrice flinches. “But the point is,” I point out, “we looked at the computer just at the right moment. Just when it showed us 1 11 11:11.”  My heart flutters, and I lose my breath. These young people can be immensely trying.

“Gran? Gran! Mom!” Patrice calls for her mother, my daughter, Grace. My first born. Maybe she’s the one I should tell, although at 55, Grace thinks she knows it all.

But now, Grace is slapping me on the cheeks.

“Mom! Mom!! Patrice, call 911. I think Gran’s having a stroke. Mom!”

I fade into the other realm. The realm right next to us that I’ve been trying to explain to my oblivious family.

I’ll regroup and then try again.

flash fiction, grandmother's wisdom

But wait. The world right next door, here, is warm and welcoming. I feel at 1, I mean, at ONE with myself.

I am ONE.

And finally, I understand.

death, life, wisdom, flash fiction, science fiction

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Flash fiction using the words: watch, whisper, secret, slap, rocking chair)

91 thoughts on “ONE with the Truth

  1. Great story, Pam!
    It make me wish (again) that I had learned more about my grandfathers’ lives. Both my grandmothers died when I was very young, but my grandfathers lived to their nineties.

    • I feel the same way, Merril. I based the ‘Gran’ of this story on a combination of both my grandmothers, who died too young for me to ask the ‘interesting’ questions of life.

    • Me too. Both of my grandmothers died too soon for me to ask them the penetrating questions that the elderly are more able to answer. I hope I’ll be a talkative ‘Gran’ when my grandkids are adults. And I hope they’ll ask the questions…. 🙂

  2. Excellent story! I just Skyped with my 88-year-old mom. I have learned to be patient and listen to every word she says. The elderly have more to say than we realize. Well done my friend.

    • You’re so fortunate to be able to Skype with your mom, Darlene. That is wonderful! Yes, that’s the trick, I think. We need to sit back, stay quiet, and then see what the elderly share. It can be eye-opening.

  3. Nicely done, Pam. And sad…I did try to spend time with my grandmother (she lived to 103) but she lived a state away. Until she needed nursing home care, I called her every week. HER advice: Love makes life work. Don’t spend so much time worrying about your children, just love them.

    • I have written down your grandmother’s advice and placed it nearby to read every day: “Love makes life work.” Brilliant and so so so true. THANK you for sharing your grandmother here. I’d say you got in some excellent granddaughter time with this special woman. How fortunate for both of you.
      (And the stop worrying about our children part – so difficult, but I believe she’s absolutely correct.) Happy Mother’s Day!

  4. Interesting point of view, Pam. I am rolling in ancestral history right now, clearing out a house dating from 1906, filled with memorabilia from 5-6 generations, many of the later ones I knew personally. The last “leaf on the tree,” as she tells it is 98 years old. A doer, she spent very little time on a rocking chair.

    • I feel like I’ve gotten to know your Aunt Ruthie from your blog posts, and yes, I bet she never spent much time in a rocking chair, for sure. “The last leaf on the tree,” – sounds sad, and yet I imagine she said it realistically, not morosely. She is certainly a big strong branch, as are you!

  5. Beautiful, Pam. Just beautiful. Like the name Patrice, too! I always marvel when, like my mom, I look at a clock and it reads 11:11 or 4:44 or 12:12…..makes me catch the moment and reminisce about my mom.

    • First, yes, I ‘borrowed’ your name for this story, Patsy – thanks! :-0 Second, my mom has never been metaphysical or imaginative, and yet a few years ago, when I was visiting her, she shouted out happily, “THE CLOCK SAYS 4:44! That’s special! It means something! ” From then on, my heart does a little skip when I glance up and see 4:44, and I smile. Isn’t this a wonderful way to think of our mom’s, when the clock reminds us of their love? xoxo

  6. I could hear a poignant call within this story… magnificently conveyed Pam. Youngsters have their own perspective, molded by observations and encouraged by their peer group. The respect and care we give to our elders comes back to us.

    • Yes, I truly had no idea where this story was going when I started it, Balroop. I only knew the five words I needed to include in it (watch, secret, rocking chair, whisper, slap). Perhaps the rocking chair brought me to Gran, but she does remind us that the elderly have so much wisdom to share, if we only sit with them and listen. xo

  7. I just love it Pam, beautiful and so true. You really know how to get our attention. All my mom wanted in her last years was some good food and a visitor that would listen to her. Balroop2013 made a good point about the getting back what we are giving.

    • Ohhh, yes, I watch my daughter watch me as I drive the long trip to see my mom (in end stage dementia now), and I know she’ll be as caring and loving. The most difficult thing, though, for the young, IS to sit still and listen. I’m still trying to learn to do that. xo

      • Young kids want to be entertained, you have to get their attention. Years ago I took some story telling workshops , I get animated and personal when I tell a story. I ask for helpers. I ask them questions, what’s your favorite bird? I make compliments to kids that are good listeners. I bring hand puppets and other items . It’s hard to compete with television and video games.

  8. What a great story! I love this, Pam. My ex-husband was mesmerized by 11:11 on the clock so this rang a bell. I loved how I wasn’t sure that Gran was a reliable narrator. And then it became clear that there was the outside story and the inside story and how different they were. Beautiful writing!

    • Huge compliment coming from you, Diana. I didn’t know whether to call this ‘speculative’ fiction? Not sure what that means, but I certainly was speculating here. I have received e-mails from friends near and far after this story posted, exclaiming, “YES! the 11:11 is important – I’m always thrilled when I catch it.” I’ll admit I’m not sure why, but I’ll also admit that I’m thrilled when I ‘catch’ it too.

  9. Some introspection and contemplation I suppose is fairly common before we die- that is if we are cognizant and your character is/was in this lovely short story. I like how you write and about face at the endings of your flash fiction stories. Keeps the reader interested and reading to the end- in anticipation of what is about to happen. I like this one very much.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this story about Gran and ONE. I truly let ‘Gran’ tell the story when I wrote it – I had no idea where it was going when I began – just saw the rocking chair in my mind’s eye. So, in some ways, I can take no credit for the ending. Perhaps 11:11 had a hand in it…? :-0

  10. First, spooky! A rocking chair central in your fiction piece as well…they lend a wonderful sense of atmosphere and poignancy (and this one of a reliable design!)😀
    Pam, this is beautifully written, tender,, loving and then so unexpected. The outside world of her granddaughter and daughter mingling with that of the narrator. I love this! ❤️

    • I think you’re right about the rocking chair and the ‘ambiance’ it gives to a story. When I began this, I only knew I needed to include the words: rocking chair, watch, slap, whisper, and secret. And your story began with the prompt of ‘rocking chair.’ I think your comment at the end of your story is so true – wouldn’t it be neat to read (write?) a story in which the rocking chair pulls the characters along in some way….

  11. Your story is just great Pam. So many emotions there and also spirituality.
    ONE. The silly numbers 111- and the One. The tension, frustration, worry between Patricia and her Gran, followed by such an unexpected ending.
    Thank you
    miriam

    • So glad you enjoyed this story – you understand exactly what I was trying to convey: spirituality and wonder, communication between different generations, old age and the questions we all ONEder about. xo

    • That’s a huge compliment from you, since I find your blog posts the most profound of all that I follow. I’m hoping Gran is about to go through her new ‘spring’ here with rebirth and color and light like you reflect in your last post.

  12. Pam, this fine short story held a very tender moment, sadly near the transition for Gran to the other realm. Too bad the granddaughter, Patrice, didn’t realize this was one of her last conversations. One of the most precious moments while Gran had tried to entrust her with a secret. Will the meaning finally sink in?
    My best friend in college, Patrice, is who I still talk to years later about any subject. I am planning to vacation in early November with her, in Long Beach, Miss. I may ask her if her grandmother ever imparted any secrets. 😀
    Hope you had a special Mother’s Day, Pamela. 💐👑

    • How neat that Patrice is a name near and dear to you. It’s an unusual name, and pretty. Yes, I hope Gran’s words encourage us all to listen to the elderly – they have a lot to tell us, if we just stop and take the time to let them talk. Happy Day after Mother’s Day- bet you had a great one. xo

  13. On the edge of my seat through the entire read Pam. Brilliantly written. My Grandmother lived to 96 and kept her wits to thelast. Feisty and flexible to change she loved reminiscing about the world changes she had seen. Thanks for taking me back to the memories of her. Again bravo for this piece.

    • Ahhhh, so nice to hear about your Grandmother, Sue. My mom is 93 now and doesn’t have her ‘wits’ with her anymore, but she does still have a wit and is VERY feisty. Me? I’m hoping I’m like Gran to the end, seeing what’s ‘around the corner’ before I get there. xo

  14. Loved this and how the personality of Gran came right through. I truly believe that we’re all one too, but sometimes that can be easy to forget. I’m glad Gran figured it out!

    • Thanks Sheila. In this world, we’re encouraged to think individually, but we came from ONE and return to ONE, and Gran tried to tell her granddaughter; however, most times, our ears are closed to that truth. Many many thanks for reading and commenting. xo

    • You are so right, Carol! A decade ago I began writing a novel with the main character a 65-year-old woman. I thought she was ‘old’ back when I started her story. Whoops, now I think I need to age her by another 10 years. You are so correct – we need to give voice to the elderly. xo

  15. Hi marks indeed!

    Favorite line: “I learned long ago that a soft voice attracts busy ears.”

    And yet, it made me a little sad. My Nana is 93 and no one listens to her anymore. Not really. They ask her rhetorical questions:

    “How old are you?”

    “When were you born?”

    “What did you eat for breakfast this morning?”

    And Nana plays along, good-naturedly. But she has so much more to say.

    When I visit her and anyone else is there, after I’ve asked Nana a question, the others present will say things aloud as if Nana is a toddler:

    “I don’t know why you ask her things like that. She won’t even remember you were here.”

    If there is a five-second pause, they suck their teeth in annoyance and say, “She doesn’t even know what you asked her.”

    And I make eyes at them and say, “Will you give her a moment?”

    So now, I visit her alone. We sing all her favorite old songs. She sings in harmony as I play the piano.

    And when I ask her questions — “What is one moment you wish you could have bottled and relived again?” or “Tell me something you don’t think I know about you.” — and I give her even 15 seconds, she’ll melt into a smile and talk for an hour about how she used to go shopping at the discount racks with her friends and they’d just grab a heap of everything, whether it fit or not, and try things on and laugh hysterically at one another — never walking out with a single item in the end. Or how the wife of the owner of the long defunct Forman & Gumner dressmakers of Boston would give her an expensive dress each Christmas — “something I could never wear, something only old ladies would wear.” And she’ll tell me me about how to do the jitterbug and say, “I can still do it up here,” pointing to her forehead. “I’m still 18 up here.”

    • Oh my, I L O V E your Nana. She reminds me a lot of my mom, who unfortunately can’t speak much now, but a year ago, believe me, she told us all what she was thinking! No filters, and it was difficult at times, but truthful and sincere, for sure. Most didn’t want to hear her truth. Your Nana is SO fortunate to have you understand her soul.
      Your words remind me of when I took my mother-in-law out for lunch when she was still alive, and asked her “what was your favorite time in your life?” Her response surprised me. It was during the depression, she answered, because “everyone was there for everyone else. None of us had enough of anything. No money, little food, few jobs. So we all spent time together, listening, playing music, talking. Being friends for each other. It was the best time.”

      • How frustrating it must be for your mom — and for you — that she is not able to speak freely now.

        And, yes, I believe you shared your mother-in-law’s thought when you commented on my post “the good old days.” We forget that it was “good” because people realized their interdependence due to real need.

        As for Nana, you can love her, but you can’t have her. She’s all mine. 🙂

Love to hear your comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s