Flash fiction is described as a short story between 300 and 1500 words. In light of that, and the recent events that have taken place, i.e.; my husband losing his aunt this morning, further complicated by an invitation to happy hour at Frijoles (thanks to my brother) my submission will be short…if not sweet.
Raking leaves was one of Millie’s favorite “jobs”, she loved to get a pile raked up and just as she was finished, her two brothers, Greg and Tommy, would jump in, spreading leaves in every direction. How could she know at the time, that her life would end the exact reverse of that, accumulating a wealth of love and knowledge, just to have it erased, bit by bit, until she did not even recognize her own two brothers, much less the well wishers that visited her at the nursing home’s rehab facility.
Millie’s life began in a small suburb of Houston, having been adopted by a couple looking to improve not only their lives, but those of the southwest area of Houston. One in seven hundred children in the US are born with Down’s Syndrome, Millie was one of the fortunate few. The Cowart’s other children, Greg and Tommy, seemed perfectly normal, except for their propensity for large leaf piles. Millie’s life was an also happy one, save for the difficulties those with Down’s syndrome experience, like the short stature, facial deformities and “accelerated” aging. Yet she got along with her brothers just fine, and they adored her in return, protecting her with a fierceness.
In her 26th year, Millie’s family started noticing a change in her, like the inability to locate everyday items like her hairbrush, or her beloved coffee cup. Before long, she could barely recall the names of her kitty cats, much less her important information-previously she could rattle off her drivers license at the drop of a hat. Her mother became more concerned when her appetite decreased and she cried all day for no apparent reason.
Unfortunately, Millie was all too well informed of the details regarding her disease, including early onset Alzheimer’s, therefore she had her parents secure a do not resuscitate order with her lawyer and physicians in charge of her care about the age of twenty. When the situation became so dire that Millie forgot how to eat, her parents sought the aid of hospice to make her comfortable and her brothers stayed close by in case she needed them. She was placed in a rehab ward of the local nursing home Healing Hearts Nursing Facility, where she received the best care possible.
Millie passed from this life to the next with her family by her side, flowers and balloons on the side table and shelves of her tiny room at the nursing home. She was 28 years young. Her parents knew how rare this occurrence was, so they set up a foundation in her name, hoping to educate others dealing with Downs’s Syndrome that the possibility existed for their children to become angels at an early age. In 1990, the Gone Too Soon foundation was born, Millie Cowart being credited as founder.
I Had No Time To Hate Because
by Emily Dickinson
I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.
Nor had I time to love, but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.
(Millie’s favorite poem, picked out by her and recited at her funeral by her brother, Tommy)
(This is a work of fiction, any similarities to events or real life incidents are purely coincidental)