Miryam Howard shares of herself…our contest winds down


We have fewer and fewer stories to post in The First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest. As it comes to a close, how fitting that one of our final entries is from Miryam Howard, who befriended Peggy on our website, and their friendship went well beyond the boundaries of our literary playground.

Here is Miyam’s second and her final entry into our contest.  As Miryam would say, “Shalom, Baby!”

Miryam forgot a title.  Why don’t ye who will leave comments suggest the best title for this poignant tale?

Here is


by Miryam Howard


“She’ll never change! There’s no dam hope for her!”

I stormed out of her apartment in a shocked daze, fleeing down six flights with my suitcases in tow to my rental car on the curb.  It wasn’t until I sat behind the wheel that I realized my body was shaking and my heart was pounding out of my chest.  I thought I might throw up.

Then, a wave of disbelief filled my mind like a thunder storm…..

“Did she really scream those words? Did she actually whirl things across the room at me?”

Flash backs suddenly bolted like lightening across my mind — the deep wounds revisited, like a kick to the ribs when already down for the count.

It had happened so fast — out of nowhere! All I knew was that I had to escape. Quickly.


My fantasy evaporated like vapors of smoke into the night air.

My longing crushed like a cigarette butt on a dirty sidewalk.

I had planned this trip for weeks. It was to be the first Mother’s Day we would spend together in many years; perhaps the last. She was in her 80’s— time was running out.  I had filled my mind with false hope, envisioning that we would share our hearts together, creating new memories that would wash away the pain of the past.

“Why did she insist on always ruining it all? Was she mentally deranged? Possessed by some demonic force of darkness?”

Anger began to  boil within me as I realized it was I who allowed it. If I had not been so desperately needy, I would have never put myself back in her world. It was all my fault. When was I ever going to learn? Why couldn’t I just grow up and realize that it is what it is? My mother hates me, and that is that.

Boarding my plane for Seattle, I left her behind, — at least physically. I pleaded with God to take this love I still had for her away. I reminded God that I had forgiven her, so now I could forget her, but my prayers went unanswered. The more I tried to cut her out of my heart, the more love came in.  Forgiveness came too easy — compassion too smoothly. I concluded to lock this love up, placing it in the basement of my heart, never allowing it freedom to hurt me again. I would not allow her vomit to be spewed upon me one more time. I pressed the delete key.  The psychotic cycle would never lure me in again. To this, I was committed.

Three years passed. I could not bring myself to pick up the phone…hearing her voice would be too difficult. However, little by little, we began to correspond. A card here, a note there… photos of the grandchildren, postcards from our travels. It seemed safe enough.  But I reminded myself, — the sweetness could turn to a tangled tirade at any moment.

All the while, I secretly loved her….adored her… wanted to be like her…

I have recently moved to California.

I find myself in the same elevator, going down the same hallway from where I fled just a  few years before. I open her apartment door with a key and greet her as I enter. I bring a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup and sit it on a tray next to her bed.  She lifts her head and smiles. I kiss her wrinkled face and smooth back her glossy white hair.  I tell her she is beautiful and that the weather today is warm.  She slowly sits up and tastes her soup. She says she isn’t hungry and  proceeds to finish it all. I give her the newspaper.

We talk about the headlines.

I read her a story.

She says she loves me and likes my pretty pink blouse. She won’t remember that I was there ten minutes after I leave. I phone her later and she calls me by my sisters name. I remind her of our walks and recent conversations and she pretends to remember. She sometimes thinks she is back in Wisconsin and I will gently remind her that she has lived in California since 1947. She doesn’t argue with me, yet struggles to remember.  Her bitterness has been swept away and only unconditional childlike sweetness remains. The pain and wounds which raged within her life for so long, no longer haunt her. She lives within the breath of each sacred moment.

Occasionally she is lonely and becomes fearful.

“Lonely for what?”  I ask, — but she can’t recall.

“It’s so scary when I can’t remember” she shares in a whispering, shaky voice.

I reassure her, telling her I understand, and that she is safe.

She turns the pages of her photo album and gets teary eyed. She points to a picture of me as a child. I tell her,

“That was me mom.”

Her eyes meet mine and we share a smile that cascades beyond time.

God answered my prayer, — but in His own way. I am now able to love her without fear of flying objects or cruel words.  She is now able to love me and is free from the tormenting bitterness that clouded her life for so long.

Looking back, I believe it was Gods love for her which I could not escape. My carnal love was incapable of such extraordinary feats.

Our wounds are healed.

We are at peace.

…..I swear, it’s not to late.

34 thoughts on “Miryam Howard shares of herself…our contest winds down

  1. Thorn says:

    And for those of you who count(?) this is story number 20 since I started posting Thanksgiving weekend. You can begin to review all the stories by pulling down contests then current contests from our menu bar.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Congratulations on a brilliant contest Mr. Editor in Chief and the level of work quality you have given the writers. Reading and reviewing these fine stories has been a true priviledge for me. So far I have read and reviewed every single story presented and the extra ones outside this contest. I honestly congratulate those submitting, those reviewing for making this contest so powerfully presented and the staff of A Word With You Press for the opportunities.

  2. Michael Stang says:

    Oh, as I reach towards the end, my every wish is that there is someone as loving as you beside me. A terrific endearing story, Miryam: physical/mental failure, nearsighted selfishness, god’s grace, written in that sweet hand I have come to recognize.

  3. KYLE Katz says:

    Miryam, How many times has life taken us down the stairs, up the stairs…back down again? Sometime out of breathe and miserarble. But you show us not only to never give up but to have faith in God’s time. Out of nowhere things can shift and will shift. You, me, your mother, father,your husband, sister, brother, co-worker. Your writing is so clear for the reader. You don’t have to bring a shovel to dig out the words that aren’t needed. Your style of being authentic seems to appear out of nowhere, then whips up a feast letting you know everything is alright…in God’s time. NoT ours. Story Title….Out Of Nowhere.

  4. Diane Cresswell says:

    I’ve been underground for a long time and now when I surface – the first story I get to read is from the beautiful and compassionate Miryam. Everything that Kyle has said I will only say ‘ditto’ for you have such an extraordinary way of placing words on a page that tells a story of exquisite spirit. You have brought the true meaning of what forgiveness is about – not only for ourselves but for those who are very hard to forgive. Forgiveness opens doors in ways that can take our breathe away and one of the components of compassion. Sometimes our greatest teachers are those that are the hardest on us. Forgiving heals – not just one but all. Blessings Miryam on your wonderful spirit. And Peggy adores this story. I can see her smile and tears.

    • Glclark says:

      Been underground??????????????? Holy Shit! Are you a Zombie now?
      Speaking for all who dine regularly at the AWwYP table, your absence has been painful and to find your beautiful self back here among us is worth a celebration. (throws confetti into the air and blows New Years Eve horn.}

      You are so right about Peggy loving this story. This contest is all about her and I know she would be all over this story with her beautiful, sweet, motherly comments and praise. She was and is LOVE!

      • Diane Cresswell says:

        Thank you – I guess no one would notice that I was hiding underground. Met some nice zombies though but I got booted out…that just goes to show you – zombies are a picky lot!!!! Guess i’ll have to come back here and bother the lot of you – again!!! These are great stories and I would find it extremely hard to pick just one. At least i got one in and that’s good enough for me to honor our wonderful friend – Peggy!

    • Miryam says:

      Thanks Diane…. I’m so touched. Ms Peggy was a part of praying for my mother, daughter & grand daughter!!!! I believe NO prayer goes unheard, & if it were not for Peggy’s, this story would have been very different!

  5. Parisianne Modert says:

    The soleum sadness of separation and the close bittersweet’s until time takes the double edged memories away. I wonder how often people are apart until the reunion is so bittersweet? I wonder how many mother daughter relationships become reconciled to peace when the catalyst is an approaching helplessness headed towards death? The power here is in these emotions of human experience that many women face during their lifetimes in their middle and late years. Here is a healing hello again without fullness and the anticipation of a farewell without a total remorse other than what might have been if prides weren’t so engraved upon their feminine egos. Here is both a victory without victory of mother and daughter in the mother’s limited capacity. Very moving and well written.

  6. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    God answers all our prayers in His good time and in His good way, not always what we’d expect, but in your excellent story He did so to your heart’s desire. In my senior years I have come to believe that forgiveness unlocks many doors, especially the one that leads to true light and peace.

  7. Glclark says:

    Miryam – if it were up to me, I’d just make the $500 first place check out to you right now for this incredible story. For those of us who had ‘rocky’ relationships with one or both of our parents, you just created the story that so many of have wanted to write for all the years that we’ve carried the hard feelings toward that parent.

    My father and I didn’t like each other. We wanted to be friends, Lord only knows we tried to be friends, but I couldn’t measure up to his expectations, his legacy and his image of what HIS son should be. He introduced me as his ‘other’ son, the one that “ain’t won the buckle yet.” I loved him with all my heart but I hated him with every breath I took, and I knew all along that someday, if I didn’t pay attention, I’d be just like him. When I heard Neal Diamond’s song, “Some Days are Diamonds,” for the first time, I was struck by the line that says……….

    “More and more I can see there’s a danger
    In becoming what I never thought I’d be”

    And I knew he wrote that song for all of us who struggled against become just like our parents. Your story explained so much to me. It told a story that so many of us have experienced, and writers that we are, we were never able to put the right words together to say just what you said.. Anyway, I told you that to tell you this……..Thank you for putting into those great words something that I’ve been trying to write for all these years. My dad’s birthday was December 14th and this year he would have been 101 years old.

    • Miryam says:

      Blessed be your fathers memory…. My heart is touched by your words. Thanks so much for letting my story sink into yours.

  8. Laura G says:

    You have touched a tender chord in me! My father is in the same state, and our stories are similar (it’s sweeter now than it was before). These final moments of simple peace and presence are what we always needed, but even if they only come now, “I swear, it’s not too late.” I love your lines on deciding whether to protect your heart or keep it open despite the lack of reciprocity. It’s a delicate dance…forgiveness is not forgetting. You’ve managed to move forward emotionally and find redemption (and help your reader to, as well) in less than 1000 words and less than 2 minutes: an admirable feat!

  9. Beverly Lucey says:

    Title suggestion: Mother’s Days

    The idea that an illness that can never be cured cures a toxic relationship is quite provocative.

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