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Mrs. W and her Paintings

Mrs. W had been declared legally blind before I became her pastor nine years later. She told me it had been a gradual lessening of sight, but nevertheless she had been unprepared for the reality of it. She was not totally blind, but was unable to see more than blurred faces and shapes of objects.

The day she was no longer allowed to drive had been the worst, Mrs. W. said. However, she had been resilient, helped by numerous friends in the community and the church. Her older sister lived with her during the early years but had herself become too frail to continue.

Thankfully, her sister’s youngest son Jim had recently moved to the town to begin his new job. He needed a place to live, and Mrs. W invited him to live in the private suite once occupied by his mother. He gratefully accepted the invitation, and became a wonderful, attentive help: shopping, preparing meals, in short tending to all the household chores.

During one of my visits to bring Holy Communion to Mrs. W, she could barely contain her excitement. She had something marvelous to show me.

“Jim had a business trip to Wyoming last week,” said Mrs. W. “He purchased some beautiful paintings of the Grand Tetons. He only finished hanging them last evening. “You must let me show you!” She held out her hand so I could guide her to nephew Jim’s rooms. “He’s at work, but I know he would want you to see the art. I love the soft shades of peach and rose where the setting sun colors the granite slopes, and the purple and gray of the canyons, or cloud-shaded areas. Jim gave me two of the paintings. He put one in the dining room and the other in my bedroom. I’ll show you those after we view the ones in his room.”

Mrs. W opened Jim’s unlocked door. The paintings were large, perhaps three feet high and five feet long. They were exquisite; original oils. Undoubtedly very expensive. Quite beautiful, and even I knew they were not works of contemporary artists. I was speechless at first. After exchanging appropriate remarks of admiration, we viewed the paintings in the dining and bedrooms.

Mrs. W watched me closely. I didn’t know what to say. She pressed me for my opinion. I stammered, searching for the right words.

“Oh, Pastor,” she said with a laugh, “I’m not totally blind. I can make out the reclining forms of naked or barely clothed women. Jim thinks I’m able to see only images of the Grand Tetons, a mountain range he knows I’ve always loved.. Isn’t it just too wonderful? He sees what he wants to see, and I see what I want to see!

Pack of Scoundrels, the third book of the David Elliott mystery series, will soon be available in paperback via Amazon. Here's a brief description: Las Cruces, New Mexico. 1954. The suspicious death of a friend and a Confidential memorandum stolen from White Sands Proving Ground, epicenter of America’s postwar space program, plunge young David and Judy Elliott into a deadly battle to uncover the real name of the mysterious “Cholla,” the key that unlocks the answers to their friend’s death, the memo and the unsolved murder of a teenager.

Literary Trivia Answers

1. What author became famous for his six-volume biography of Lincoln? Carl Sandburg

2. The crime novel The Godfather, also a hit movie, was written by whom? Mario Puzo

3.Who wrote the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are? Maurice Sendak

4. The hero Beowulf faces a monster known by what name? Grendel

5. What color was Anna Karenina’s bag in Tolstoy’s novel? Red

6. In which state do Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn live? Missouri

7. What novel written by Oscar Wilde has to do with immortality? The Picture of Dorian Gray

8. Which character in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick was the voice of reason? Starbuck

9. What novel centers around marriage during the Victorian era, describing the fascination that a group of sisters have over one man? Pride and Prejudice

10.What pen name did Norman Bean write under? Edgar Rice Burroughs

11. In what fictional town is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird set? Maycomb, Alabama

12. What other novels did Margaret Mitchell have published before Gone with the Wind? None.

13. What is the name of the heroine of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter? Hester Prynne

14. Mary Ann Evans was the real name for which author? George Eliot

15. In 1984, who serves as the leader of The Party? Big Brother

16. Who wrote “Under Milk Wood” a 1954 radio drama commissioned by the BBC and later adapted for the stage? Dylan Thomas

17. What pen name did Eric Arthur Blair write under? George Orwell

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