Proud Mary

Mark - Hudson, Ohio
Entered on December 16, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, legacy
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It’s a steamy Cleveland night in 1931 and the band plays her song “I Found a Million Dollar Baby (in a Five and Ten Cent Store)”. She loves to dance, more than anything else she loves to dance. She is young and full of life; positive dreams fill the cup full.

We sit in her house as I look closely in her eyes; she tears off her glasses and rubs away the old age. Nineteen years old one day, 82 years old the next, the years just slipped away. She places her glasses back on her face, looks down and murmurs, “Proud Mary ain’t what she used to be”.

Old age has stolen her life and pain has a solid grip. Morose defines the mood but she masks her gloom with a story of long ago; how she would dance with the young man, so many years have gone by but she still remembers the color of his eyes.

At this stage – the past no longer has a future to comfort you. The rainbow looses another color.

I feel helpless; I want to help her as she has always helped me. I take the sword from the sheath, swing with all my might and slay the demon of death; I will protect her from her fear.

Months later – I visit the senior home. I paint on a smile and enter the grey room on that grey day; it is hard to mask the sadness as I look into her tired eyes, the paint washes from my face.

I feel helpless; I want to help her as she has always helped me. I seek the oracle for his magic; he reveals the alchemy for a panacea and reveals the ancient rites. Now I can save her from despair.

We sit and chat for a time and turn on the Braves, she came to love baseball, watching us kids play. I wonder if this will be our last game, I wonder if she is thinking the same thing. I know we are both staring through the television with thoughts of the past. I remember that sweet tea she would always prepare and the perogies with butter, sour cream and bacon. It has made me appreciate my ethnicity.

I get up to say good-bye; it’s the first time I see my Grandma cry. I want to comfort her but I can’t find the words, as the colors of her rainbow turn to gray.

I learned from her to work hard, be good and dress nice. I remember her saying “don’t dress like a bum.” She’ll always be with me, I’ll remember her till my last day.


Years later – I’ve learned I can’t search for magic, and demons I cannot slay, but one thing is true, one day our colors will fade to gray. Death takes life and everything with it, and our spirituality is merely for the living. I don’t feel her looking down on me or pushing me along. It’s my memories of a wonderful person, it was our time together that makes me strong. No gods, no oracles, no angels to guide us along but I will always remember Mary and I’ll always remember her song.