SOUL: The Meaning of Life By Sharon Collins

Week 10 Word: SOUL
Word Count 499
The Meaning of Life
By Sharon Collins

She was an old soul. Mary Grace was so very old, she look almost new again. Gone were her teeth. Gone was most of her hair. Gone was her ability to feed herself. Her unfocused gray-blue eyes, followed my voice, but couldn’t see me. Mary Grace was my favorite resident. And even though I was hired as kitchen-help, when the Aides were short-handed, I filled in. Mostly I ran trays. Up and down the Gone-With-the-Wind staircase, I flew in my starchy white uniform.. Like a gull I’d swoop in with a tray, drop it for the Aide, and dash back to the kitchen, hem flapping like wings. I always saved Mary Grace’s tray with her green tea for last. That way if needed, I could sit and chat while she ate.

For Mary Grace, I learned to dampen the slice of white bread with tea softening it for her toothless gums. I’d spoon in a bite, not too big, wait for her to nod for another, and we’d talk. Sometime that year my, “Need-To-Know-Gene” kicked in. I decided to ask the oldest and therefore the wisest person I knew, to tell me the Secret to the Meaning of Life. When I asked Mary Grace between bites, she shook her head and whispered, “Ah, ma Cherie, it is a secret.”

“You don’t know, do you?” I teased, spooning in another bite of something soft, applesauce perhaps.

“Oh, but I do; it is just that You are not ready to know it yet.”

“Please,” I wheedled. Mary Grace could be stubborn. “When will I be old enough? And how will you know?”

“Cherie, I will be able to tell; it is something I will see…”

“See, Mary Grace? Really, how will you be able to see? You’re blind!” I blurted….

Nodding, she smiled, “There are ways of seeing without one’s eyes, Cherie. I will see with my heart. When time is right, I will share with you the Secret to the Meaning of Life.”

Of course, Life got in the way, and my time with Mary Grace was cut short. That Monday evening came when the Tray List was missing her name. Jaw tight against the tears, I walked to room with the bay window. Her’s was the first bed by the door. It was perfectly made and heartbreakingly empty. I met Death that Spring Day. His acquaintance aged me, something Mary Grace foresaw. On the nightstand was an envelope addressed, Ma Cherie. Into my pocket it folded as an Aide entered …”Oh sweetie, I’m sorry. Didn’t anyone tell you that Mary Grace passed Saturday night? ” A sad seagull, I returned to work, up and down the stairs, the envelope a rock in my pocket, a weight on my wings.

With the shift over and the sun setting into a gray-blue sky the color of Mary Grace’s eyes, I opened her message. On a the back of a faded Valentine, was the answer to my question: Laugh louder. Cry harder…

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