Linen, Fresh Air and Sunshine

Linen, Fresh Air and Sunshine

A Story by Shelley Holt-Lowrey

Bits and pieces of a childhood spent in my grandmother's backyard, interwoven with fiction. Compliments another piece - Crone Wisdom.

The old woman came back to herself with a slight start. How long had she been sitting there she mused? Five minutes? An hour? Since last night? She looked down at her teacup and wrapped blue veined hands around the fragile rose and ivy patterned porcelain, testing for temperature. A slight hint of warmth remained. Not too long. Not too long.

She glanced toward the kitchen window noticing the sky had taken on a violet orange glow signifying the close of another day. She couldn't recall if she had taken the sheets off the line. A small frown settled on a face made wrinkled with a life lived fully. She shook her head trying to dislodge the fog which seemed to to have settled there. These cloudy moments - they seemed to drop in on her uninvited more and more often.. "Not many sunsets left!" she said to no one in particular.

She stood slowly, gathering the remains of her modest dinner, and took the dishes to the chipped cast iron sink. She noticed a light afternoon breeze had come up, causing a stir in the starched white curtains dressing the window over the sink. The quiet hum of the ice box - no refrigerator - lulled her into a wistful reverie. As she stood over the wash basin, her gnarled hands submerged in warm soapy water, her mind wandered back through time - to when she was a wee girl chasing the prairie winds through her grandmother's white linen sheets left hung on the clothes line to dry.

She thought of Jillian, her grand daughter, and how she used to do the very same thing at her GramGram's house... this house, where all of these women had been born, had lived, loved and lost.

From across the years Jilly's deep throated giggles came to her unbidden. She followed those peals of laughter to days when she, as a young mother would chase her own little girl (Jilly's mother lost to an illness long ago) through the billowing white sheets until, breathless they would collapse on the grass in a heap of sun warmed limbs. She crossed time once more, forward forty years, when she would watch as Jilly's little boy, Aaron zig-zagged through those same linen sheets. Only now, instead of towering castle abutments hiding charming princes within their white marble walls, there were monsters or dragons needing to be located and dispatched within white limestone dungeons.

Presently, she landed back to her now. To the time wizened, bent old woman she had become. Aaron was grown up now, and Jilly was about to become a GramGram herself. Jilly didn't have a clothes line, nor a backyard. Aaron's childhood playground was a balcony on the 27th floor of a New York high rise. How Jilly managed to raise such a free spirited son in such a confided space still confounded her.

Aaron and his very pregnant wife Marilyn were due home soon. A smile so deep it reached her heart came unbidden to her face. A beatific smile, her husband Richard had once told her, with enough brilliance to challenge the moon AND the sun.

Aaron reminded her so much of her own dear Richard, gone almost 20 years now. She remembered the day Aaron reappeared in her life. The day she opened her front door to find it filled with the countenance of one so dear and so familiar to her it caused her heart to squeeze beneath her breast.

The sun glowed brightly from behind, backlighting him in an angelic golden glow. Richard?!? She stood unblinking for a moment. No! Richard had been gone for years. Confused, she scrutinized the man donning the same shiny mop of brown blonde hair, and wearing a face so nearly like Richard's she was left momentarily stunned.

"GramGram?" said the man shyly, one eyebrow raised in a tentative query. As recollection finally spread across her face, the lopsided grin she had never stopped missing appeared upon his. This face was slightly different from her memory, but so similar to the one kept within her ancient heart. Aaron!! This was Aaron. The cherub of a young boy she had last seen being carried away in tears on his mother's hip. Little Aaron had come home.

With a wistful smile, she finished drying her dishes, carefully placing them back in the cupboard. She shuffled back to her chair to sit once more. Out of breath again. She became tired so suddenly now. She rested her hand on the cracked grey linoleum table. Felt its coolness beneath her paper thin skin.

From her heart's memory an old children's song came to her. It fluttered by and lit in her mind. "... no siree! I'm gonna live to be a hundred and three. I play safe for you and me..." A song she and Jilly used to sing together. Jilly adored that cricket!

One hundred three. Then it had been just a song not a wish. Yet it had just about come to pass. Tomorrow would mark her one hundred and third year. Jilly's reed thin little voice cried out from the past, "No GramGram! You gotta live forever! I'm gonna need you!"

Jilly didnt need her anymore. Hadn't needed her since she moved to the city to escape the memories of a shattered heart. She meant to come back often, but she never did. She was doing well in a life far removed from her small town roots. It was too painful for her here the old woman knew. The years wore on.

But Aaron had came back. Moved into the house with his new wife, Marilyn. She suspected it was to keep an eye on her since there was nobody left, but he seemed content here and had begun to carve out a place for himself and Lynn in the small community.

Presently, she heard the crunch of tires on gravel signaling Aaron and Lynn's arrival. Aaron was going to barbecue tonight, and they would watch a movie just released on DVD. She peeked out the window to see Aaron help Lynn out of their big white SUV. She watched as Lynn, 9 months pregnant, waddled up the front porch. One hand held her swollen belly, the other braced her back. Any day now that baby would be here.

She sighed with the realization that there would be no running through linen walled cities with this little one. As this child's days were dawning hers had approached twilight. She knew she had few sunsets remaining.

Just after dinner, as they sat down to watch their movie, Lynn started complaining of a back ache. It became apparent before the movie was even over that this child was on its way. It had chosen to share a birthday with the old woman. Calmly Aaron readied his wife for the 25 minute drive to the closest county hospital. Distractedly, he asked the old woman if she wished to go with them.

Smiling, she shook her head and declined. They would be just fine without her. "Yes," she thought, "They would be just fine."

Not long after the rumble of the truck's engine faded, the old woman readied for bed. She took one final tour of the house, winding up in the kitchen. She smiled down at the little kitchenette table that had seen so many meals, sat sentinel through so many conversations, and felt the drops of numerous tears over the course of its service. She looked outside into the pitch black night. Off into the distance where the old rusted steel and rope clothing line still stood. She envisioned this new child running and hiding behind walls of white linen. Smiled as she imagined Lynn and the child falling on the grass in an exhausted heap. Slowly she made her way to bed.

A smile once so brilliant as to challenge the moon AND the sun fell across her face as she slipped between crisp sun bleached sheets smelling of fresh air and sunshine. The clock in the living room ticked quietly past 12:03 AM as she laid her head on the pillow, let out a small puff of a sigh, and closed her eyes one final time.


The clock on the wall of the brightly lit delivery room ticked with staccato-like precision as Lynn labored to bring their daughter into the world. Just as it ticked past 12:03 AM, a baby girl with what looked to be a stock of blond and brown hair signaled her arrival with a hearty shriek before being laid to her mother's breast.

Smiling down at his two girls, Aaron watched as his new daughter stirred. As she did, the scent of something vaguely familiar yet not at all belonging to this place wafted up to tickle his memory and his senses. "Do you smell that?" he asked his wife who nodded her head slightly. "Yes", she said tiredly, "What is it?"

"I don't know," he said, reaching far back into his memory, "It smells familiar.... like...linen, fresh air and sunshine."

© 2013 Shelley Holt-Lowrey

Author's Note

Shelley Holt-Lowrey
Something different. Still needs a polish but working on it.

My Review

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Great story telling. This did justice in the realm of getting the message across. Great message. There's lot of times where a story can have a great message to aim for, and have a lot of under lining things but then no one gets it, and if no one gets it, then the point has failed. But in my opinion this did well to get the message across. You made it clear, which is why I think it's good. Keep up the good work. What was also great was that I could imagine the story as I read it, and that is also a strong point of stories. The ability to have the reader imagine it because after all we're reading not watching it, but it was as if I was there as I read this, and that is great. Great visuals and great story telling. It had plot and substance. When you add substance to writing it gets that much better. It gets the reader hooked on it and make them feel as if they are part of it. As long as their is that emotional connection between the reader and the story then it's good. The connection you were able to established in the writing gives the reader a sense of comfortably that they are in tune with the writing. So that way when the writing is over, the reader wants more, and wishes it didn't end. I feel the same way when I watched a movie or tv series that I get so attached to, I never want it to end. And for this writing, I didn't want it to end. You had me hooked, and I am sure everyone else who read it was hooked as well. That is good, that is what you want for people to keep wanting more. The way you put the story together makes me feel like my life is different for that moment in which I read your story. I love it, and it was beautiful. Just keep posting stories like this, and you'll have a good following.

Posted 5 Years Ago

I have old man's skin. They sent me a medicare card in the mail last winter and sometimes I find myself in the garage and wonder; what the heck did I come in here for. It's not so bad. I still remember who I used to be.

A beautiful story well told.

Posted 8 Years Ago

life, standing on the deck, sheets unfurled shaking them to the wind, the salt laden breeze quickens a heart beat to memories now on top,How does a thought square its self so fast, why do some hide buried refusing to be found and others perk up and down choose me choose me? I think when you write through your soul like this ,the writing will sail to the heart of our beliefs ,shining light into the darker corners .Palatable textures to walk on water with.If it needs polish to you,fine but I love the patina it gives off right now.

Posted 8 Years Ago

' to when she was a wee girl chasing the prairie winds through her grandmother's white linen sheets left hung on the clothes line to dry.

She thought of Jillian, her grand daughter, and how she used to do the very same thing at her GramGram's house... this house, where all of these women had been born, had lived, loved and lost. '

The above are just a few lines from a post that moved me start to finish, Shelley. There's such beauty and sincerity in this writing, its what I 'd call a wondrous weeping of words because it's family history sweetly, graphically set. Apart from that, technically it's finely written.

Tis beautiful, dear friend, beautiful. (You) As to the ending .. gulp.

Posted 8 Years Ago

Impressionistic. Beautiful. Read after a night with Gramgrams and Mommom's and a warm belly. This is the best of people. Parents and those with warms hearts find solace. Praise of the good and true. Clean, readable prose made for fun reading. Evolution. Reincarnation. Purpose.

Posted 8 Years Ago

I love what are u an author

Posted 8 Years Ago

I think this is your best piece ever. A truly professional write. Very touching and visual. Is the sarcastic beach girl developing a soft spot. I love your usual raging, but this was great.

Posted 8 Years Ago

This is written directly from the heart, a very warm heart. Shelley, you've crafted this piece with cohesion of truth and sentiment and brought all the story telling elements to bear. Age was represented with care, family was painted with love, and life, life was awash with fresh air and sunshine.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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12 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on February 14, 2013
Last Updated on February 14, 2013
Tags: shelley holt-lowrey, grandparents, grandchildren, family, love, continuity, death

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