I sat cross-legged in my garden, well aware I wasn’t supposed to still do that at my age.  I hear people talking– another thing they act like I can’t do.  True, some eighty-one-year-olds can’t hear worth beans, but I think for many, it’s a pretty good act.  Why, Henry Walters zips around on his scooter and pretends he doesn’t see people in front of him or hear their screams as they scamper out of his way.  Oh, but I’ve seen the grin on his face as he zooms by; ornery old coot!

I plucked frost-bitten leaves off my lantana.  It wasn’t supposed to freeze in March, but sometimes God doesn’t much care about rules.

“Hi, Grandma.”

I glanced at my granddaughter, Emma, suspecting my daughter sent her on a fishing expedition.  “Hi, sweetie.”

“That plant looks half dead.”

“Ah, but inside, it’s very much alive.”  Like me, I thought.

“I doubt it will bloom again,” Emma said.

“It had a rough winter, but sure as I speak, those yellow flowers will be back.  To sort of quote Gloria Gaynor, ‘it will survive’.”

Emma wrinkled her forehead, “Who?”

“Never mind.”  Emma was an old soul.  Sometimes I forgot she’d only lived eleven years.

“Mom’s scared you’re gonna die.  You’re not, are you?”  Worry creased her brows.

I wiped my hands on my polyester pants and cupped her face in them.  I had to admit that against her youth, the contrast of old, wrinkled, sun-spotted hands didn’t look good for me.  “Like this lantana, I will survive this season too.”  I felt my will crack.  I turned back to my weathered plants so Emma wouldn’t see.

“So you’re not going to follow Grandpa?”

I half laughed, half snorted.  “I miss Grandpa with all my heart, but he reminded me I still have a garden to tend.  Besides, he promised he’d be waiting for me when my work here was done.”

My tears reminded me: I needed to water the garden.



TrifectaPicture11-1This fictional story was written for the Trifecta weekly writing prompt.  The challenge given was to write a 33 to 333 (mine is 328) word response using the following word and definition:

Survive:  to continue to function or prosper despite : withstand <they survived many hardships>

If you’d like to read other responses, or try it out yourself, click on the tricycle picture to see complete guidelines on Trifecta’s site.  Wishing everyone a Happy New Year.  May we all recognize our blessings!

71 thoughts on “Survival

  1. nrhatch December 31, 2012 / 10:12 AM

    Terrific post, Janna!

    One quick fix: Sometimes I forgot she only lived eleven years. ~ she’d

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:20 PM

      Thanks for pointing out that typo, Nancy. I fixed it 🙂 I hope you had a happy new year!

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:22 PM

      Yes, getting through grief is sad. I do hope to stay active- activity shouldn’t be limited by age. Thanks for reading, Scriptor…and happy new year!

  2. Paula J December 31, 2012 / 10:32 AM

    I always enjoy writing when the narrator is an older person. Something about the voice allowing one to tell the truth without apology or rancor. At least, that’s the way it works for me. Of course, some would argue that I AM an older person. I guess I am older, on the outside, at least. You did a great job. I enjoyed this character.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:29 PM

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I like to write all ages, but I am drawn to the older generation. Maybe it’s because many stories focus on the young, I don’t know. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Paula.

  3. Sean December 31, 2012 / 11:00 AM

    As we warrant our good-byes to others, we see the tranquility which we long for over the years. As solemness prevails so does life itself. Thank you for the post. Keep using your gift and shine from within.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:35 PM

      Thanks for the kind comment, Sean. With age, we tend to prepare for the inevitable. With any luck, we will rest in peace.

  4. Sandi Ormsby December 31, 2012 / 1:22 PM

    That is just beautiful!
    I’m not looking forward to being the old spouse left behind…a friend of mine had a grandfather that lived a very long life, did a crossword puzzle each morning and rode his bike every day… except there was a long time where it was sad because his wife passed, and then all his friends started passing, and he was the only one left. It broke my heart to hear that. I told Bill, that he has to outlive me. Morbid, right?


    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:40 PM

      Being the last one left on Survivor, is great…you get a million dollars. Being the last one left in life is just lonely. I can relate to wanting to go first, but that would be one morbid conversation, Sandi! Thanks for stopping by. Hope the kids enjoyed the New Year’s Eve festivities.

  5. diannegray December 31, 2012 / 1:57 PM

    Beautiful post, Janna – sad and poignant. I love the old woman’s voice…

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:41 PM

      Thanks so much for reading, Dianne. I’m glad you liked the story 🙂

  6. Imelda December 31, 2012 / 3:38 PM

    You painted a delicate vignette here.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:43 PM

      I appreciate you stopping by to read it, Imelda.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:44 PM

      Thanks so much, APaN. Appreciate you reading 🙂

  7. ApplePieAndNapalm December 31, 2012 / 3:55 PM

    Your blog is so fantastic, I just love it. I was the recipient of the Very Inspiring Blogger award and I am repaying that kindness by nominating yours! Just go to my newest post and save and upload your award. You’ll see from my post what to do. Keep up the great work!

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:47 PM

      Thanks so much for the nomination. That you like my blog enough to think of it means a lot to me. I’ll be by to check out your post tonight when I’ve got my computer 🙂

  8. Tara R. December 31, 2012 / 4:00 PM

    A very sweet moment between grandmother and grandchild.

  9. themisanthropicmuse December 31, 2012 / 6:04 PM

    My grandparents were together for over fifty years and after he died my grandmother withered away. It was horrible to watch. I guess for some folks it’s just too hard of a loss to bear. Lovely story told expertly.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:56 PM

      I do believe it’s possible to die of a broken heart. My grandma made it a couple years after my grandpa, but she wasn’t the same. Thanks for reading and sharing how this related to you, Muse.

  10. GodGirl January 1, 2013 / 2:14 AM

    Wow. Such a poignant insight into her grieving heart. Love the imagery of the plant… and the picture of her weathered hands cupped around a young face. Great the way she is able to remind herself of what is needed for her to keep living despite the loss.
    Wonderful again, thanks Janna.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 12:59 PM

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your reaction, GodGirl. Sometimes we must go on even when the pain feels like we can’t.

  11. Debbie January 1, 2013 / 8:20 AM

    You nailed it again, Janna. Wonderful, moving piece, well told from a grandmother’s viewpoint. See? You DON’T always have to “write what you know”!!!

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 1:04 PM

      Haha! True, I’m not that age yet (even if my older son acts like I am :)) I’m glad you liked the story, Debbie. As always, I appreciate you reading!

  12. atrm61 January 1, 2013 / 8:35 AM

    “I miss Grandpa with all my heart, but he reminded me I still have a garden to tend. Besides, he promised he’d be waiting for me when my work here was done.”Just beautiful Janna:-)We all are going to grow old & the final destination for all is death but how we travel to that & our attitude towards it,is very important.Being young at heart,& having a strong will to live life fully goes a long way towards a happier & healthier end.Well done-salute !

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 1:07 PM

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment- you”get” it 🙂 Sometimes living is hard, grief hurts- but we work through it until the garden no longer needs tending.

  13. jesterqueen (@jesterqueen) January 1, 2013 / 10:24 AM

    Your portraits of the old among us are striking. I love these insights into age (though I do not accuse you of sharing your characters’dotage.) You capture the small moments of an old woman’s life, the creaking shifts in her will and her bones, and her slow progression towards the inevitable so beautifully here.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 1:14 PM

      Thanks for taking time to read the story, Jester Queen. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful comments. We all encounter grief, and with any luck, we’ll experience old age.

  14. cshowers January 1, 2013 / 1:33 PM


    This was one of the most poignant, beautiful posts that I’ve read so far for the Trifecta Challenge. I wish it could have gone on… 🙂


    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 9:58 PM

      Your kind comment means a lot to me, Cheryl. Thanks so much for reading…I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

      • cshowers January 1, 2013 / 10:02 PM

        I think this “Survive” challenge has been one of the best I’ve read, in the short time I’ve been participating. It seems to have evoked all sorts of different, but beautiful responses in almost everyone.

        • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 10:13 PM

          I’m liking the responses, too, Cheryl. I’m a bit behind on reading (thanks to a cat curled up on my lap sleeping today) but hope to catch up a bit tomorrow 🙂

  15. Stephanie B. (@B4Steph) January 1, 2013 / 4:21 PM

    I know a long married couple who died within two weeks of each other. When her husband died the wife died of a broken heart. You’ve captured this beautifully. May we all experience old age like this.

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 10:06 PM

      It is sad when half of a longtime married couple dies. They’ve spent so many years together, they don’t know how to be alone. The idea for this character is based on my grandma on my dad’s side – she lived for nearly 30 years after her husband died. She paid no attention to the idea that there were certain things she shouldn’t do for safety reasons. And she sure did love her garden! Thanks for reading, Stephanie.

  16. barbara January 1, 2013 / 5:51 PM

    beautiful picture of the elderly – but I do love the granddaughter with the old soul. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 10:07 PM

      Thanks, Barbara. I’m glad you enjoyed the characters!

  17. mairzeebp January 1, 2013 / 6:56 PM

    Loved it. Once again, I could see your characters as clear as day and wished there was more of them so I could follow their lives for a little while :);

    • jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 10:09 PM

      Thanks so much, Mairzeebp. I’m glad you took some time to read my story and catch a glimpse of these two 🙂

  18. Dawn Lamond January 1, 2013 / 7:07 PM

    Beautiful painting of a story 🙂 Great depth, with humor *and* sadness all wrapped up in there. Great use of metaphor – felt real 😀

  19. jannatwrites January 1, 2013 / 10:11 PM

    Thanks, Dawn. I appreciate you stopping by to read the story. I’d hoped the humor would balance out the sadness a bit and I’m glad to hear that someone else thinks it worked 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 2, 2013 / 10:06 PM

      Thank you for reading. Trifecta editor(s) 🙂

  20. Sorrows In A Serenade January 2, 2013 / 5:21 AM

    This is beautiful! (:

    • jannatwrites January 2, 2013 / 10:07 PM

      Thanks! I’m glad you stopped by, Sorrows in a Serenade.

  21. Kir Piccini January 2, 2013 / 10:25 AM

    I don’t think this is sad at all..I think it’s hopeful and beautiful. I think it’s poignant and truly heartwarming.

    I remember looking very closely at my Grandma’s, wondering if I was losing them to something beyond my control and hugging them tight.

    coming from a long long long line of women who were YOUNG widows, (my mom, my 2 grandmas, one great grandma) I know that history might repeat itself for me…and while that scares me, I also know that just like that plant, some things just look like they are hibernating, they are merely resting themselves for the big reveal.

    in other words, I SIMPLY LOVED THIS>

    • jannatwrites January 2, 2013 / 10:11 PM

      I’m glad you could see past the ‘sadness’ of losing loved ones. When we slow down and think that each day is one less day our loved ones will be on this earth, it should prompt us to show our love now…to end grudges now…because later may be too late.

      Well, I hope you break the trend and are not a young widow, Kir. I like the way you put that – “resting themselves for the big reveal.”

      I appreciate you reading and taking the time to offer your thoughts on the story. Thank you 🙂

  22. deanabo January 2, 2013 / 12:31 PM

    This is beautiful. Sad for the granddaughter that is losing someone she love, but lovely for the grandmother who is looking forward to being reunited with her love. I love that she is staying strong for her age. Beautiful.

    • jannatwrites January 2, 2013 / 10:14 PM

      I also like it when I meet older folks who get around so well. It’s inspiring to me to want to keep my body healthy, instead of just accepting that I will gradually lose my abilities. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts, Deanabo!

  23. agjorgenson January 2, 2013 / 4:54 PM

    Lovely. You caught so well that special connection between generations separated by one.

    • jannatwrites January 2, 2013 / 10:16 PM

      Thanks, Agjorgenson. I was fortunate to have at least one set of grandparents nearby for most of my childhood. Grandparents offer a wise listening ear when children can’t seem to communicate with parents. This bond can last through adulthood.

  24. Linda Vernon January 2, 2013 / 9:42 PM

    Oh I love everything about this story Janna. I especially love how you’ve captured her youth inside an old body. Grandma is the same as she has always been only getting closer to the end. And it isn’t sentimental, it’s just a matter of fact. Superb! 😀

    • jannatwrites January 2, 2013 / 10:20 PM

      Your compliment made me blush a little, but thank you, Linda! It’s funny how age is only skin deep. I can’t believe how old I am…I sure don’t act (or feel) like it 🙂

  25. Mike January 3, 2013 / 2:29 AM

    A great story Janna, beautifully written. I look forward to being an “ornery old coot” and charging around on an electronic zimmer frame scaring the living daylights out of the youngsters around me. Death is inevitable but until that day we should live life to the full.

    • jannatwrites January 4, 2013 / 11:57 PM

      Thanks for reading, Mike. I think being the ornery old coot would be a blast, too 🙂

  26. Sandra Tyler (@SFiberworks) January 3, 2013 / 5:36 AM

    What a lovely little nugget of writing; I could hold it in my palm and it glows. And rings so true; children are wonderful at speaking exactly what’s on their minds. And Gramma knew just how to answer her so that she might understand. In metaphors.

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2013 / 12:16 AM

      Thank you for your kind comment, Sandra. I appreciate you stopping by 🙂

  27. KymmInBarcelona January 3, 2013 / 5:40 AM

    Like the practicality of having to water the garden. Nice touch.

  28. Draug419 January 3, 2013 / 7:05 AM

    I love this so much ❤

  29. Jennifer Dillon January 3, 2013 / 9:29 AM

    What a wonderful balance between wry humor and heart wrenching, Just lovely Janna.

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2013 / 12:17 AM

      Thanks, Jennifer. I didn’t want to drag everyone down too far 🙂

  30. Sandra January 3, 2013 / 3:49 PM

    Janna, what a beautiful exchange between generations! It is both sad and heartwarming at the same time. I just watched the movie Les Mis, and in my mind I hear the lyric, “and rain, will make the flowers, grow” to your character’s tears. Sniffle.

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2013 / 12:22 AM

      I haven’t seen that movie, Sandra. Watching someone near death is bittersweet: they are taken from us, which is sad, but they will be reunited with loved ones already passed.

  31. Tina January 3, 2013 / 4:39 PM

    Beautifully done. Old folks are more spry than we think. Look at William Shatner!

  32. habibadanyal January 4, 2013 / 1:50 AM

    I have known a survivor all my life, my grandmother. She has survived the worst of medical problems and doctors say its her will to live on that helps her cope with her situation. Your story reminded me of her. And I loved the bit about Henry Walters. 🙂

  33. rerodan January 5, 2013 / 1:41 PM

    Great post, about survival interwoven with grandma, a garden, a lantana, and a girl, truly inspiring, I wrote a post on the Glory of the Garden, hope you’ll find it half as interesting as yours.

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