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Resignation, Part 52: The Final Chapter

Fred woke up at 4:30.  On the dot.  He wondered how many days he had done that.  Countless.  Lonely ones since Betty had left him behind.  He reached and felt her side of the bed.  Even after all these years, he didn’t slide to that side of the bed when he slept.  It was her spot.  Sacred to no one else but him.  It was as cool as it was the day before and the day before that.  How he longed for it to be warm again.

Fred laid there until 5:00.  He couldn’t stay there any longer.  He performed his morning ritual before moving to the kitchen.  He started his coffee before slumping to his recliner.  He listened to the coffee crack and pop as it perked.  He imagined that it would be good, though he wasn’t sure had drunk a good cup of coffee since Betty had passed.  They could prepare it the same way, but hers somehow always tasted better.

He read Psalm 23 while he waited on the coffee.  It was Betty’s favorite, just like her mother’s before her.  He thought back to the graveside service and how so many in the church had been there.  She had been loved by so many, most of them she felt like she had helped raise in the nursery.

Fred stretched back and closed his eyes.  He whispered some prayers in his mind.  He felt….strange was all he could think of.  He needed to get up and get that coffee.  He needed something to get him going this morning, but he was so tired.  It just wasn’t normal.  Maybe if he just shut his eyes for a few minutes, he could…..

*****

David woke with a start.  He had been dreaming, but he couldn’t quite recall it.  It seemed like Fred was there and maybe someone else.  Was that Betty, Fred’s wife, who was there?  They had seemed so happy, almost giddy, like they hadn’t seen each other in a long time.  They looked different too, younger, but even better than that.  Stronger.  Better than he had ever seen them.  They had seemed to be worshiping.  That was when he woke up.  He thought it was weird that he would be dreaming about them, especially Betty.

David thought he must have dreamed about Fred because he was supposed to take him out to lunch, but it sure didn’t explain Betty being in the dream.  They had both been like another set of grandparents.  His first times in the church had been in Betty’s nursery.  He had taken his own children there when they had come along.

David leaned back and started praying.  He couldn’t get Fred off his mind.  He was going to have to check on him a little earlier than he expected.  He tried his best to keep praying.  Finally, he gave up.  He got up and grabbed his cell phone.  He found Fred’s number and dialed it.  He let it ring until the answering machine picked up.  David hung up.  He waited a minute and called back.  He hung up again when the machine picked up again.  He waited and called again.  Again, no answer.

David went to the bathroom  and quickly brushed his teeth.  He slipped on his clothes and headed out the door.  Jumping in his truck, David headed for Fred’s.  He wasn’t going to worry until he got there, but he was worried.  It was strange that he couldn’t get a hold of Fred.

*****

Dale had been awake for a while.  He loved following the same routine.  He got up and grabbed a Diet Mountain Dew.  He would stretch a  bit and read a bit for the Gospels.  He loved starting with Jesus.  Then he followed a plan that he used for reading through the Bible.  He went through this plan four times a year.  He would spend some time praying and stretching.  Then he would eat a little something.  A little more study and then he would head out for a run.  He loved listening to a sermon he had downloaded  while he ran.  Sometimes he would listen to praise music.  Whatever he was in the mood for or what he needed.  Whatever his soul needed.

He came back in from his run after about forty minutes.  It had been a good run and a good sermon he had listened to.  It was just what he needed before he headed into the office.  He still couldn’t believe it that he was back in the pulpit.  He had a few items he needed to take care of.  He wanted to set up a schedule to begin visiting church member.  He wanted to really get to know his people and love them in their homes.  Later, he needed to make a hospital visit.

Melissa was waiting on his as he came in the door.  The look on her face told him most of what he needed to know.  There was an emergency, a crisis of some sort.  There were tears in her eyes.  She handed him his phone.   He hit the last number that had called.

“Dale, thanks for calling me back.”  David sounded frantic on the other end.

“Hey, David.  What’s going on?”

“It’s Fred, Dale.  Can you get over to the hospital?”

“I’ll be there in just a minute, David.  Hang on.”

*****

Tom and Teresa woke up and glanced at the clock.  It was up in the morning.  They had stayed up late the night before, but that was ok.  It was their honeymoon.

Tom remembered when he had first asked Teresa where she had wanted to go on the honeymoon.  He had expected her to say something like a cruise or an exotic location like Cancun or Bermuda.  He had laughed when she had told him where it was she had wanted to go.  He may have laughed louder when he had made the reservations.  He had received a strange look or two, but he didn’t really care.  It was where Teresa had wanted to go, so he was happy to make it happen for her.

Now they were at Disney.

Teresa had never been before.  She had always wanted to go, but her family had not been able to afford it when she was growing up.  She had never really had any friends as an adult who had wanted to go with her.  Now, at last, she did.

They had been to the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.  Today there were scheduled to go to Animal Kingdom.  Tom was more excited about this than any other part of the park.  He was about to head to the bathroom to get ready when he heard a phone ringing.  He saw Teresa reach for her phone with a puzzled look on her face.  She answered and then he quickly heard a cry.

Tom reached Teresa as she put the phone down.  Tears were streaming down her face.

“What’s wrong, Babe?”

“He’s gone, Tom.  He’s gone home.”

“Who?”

“Fred.”

Tom clutched her to him.  He couldn’t believe this.  They had gotten so close to Fred and the team during the search process.  Their life together was just beginning.  Now, Fred’s life on earth was ending.  Tom smiled just a little, though, because that it wasn’t the end though.  It was just the beginning.  Fred had gone on to glory.  He was just beginning his life in eternity.

“Let’s head home.” Tom looked down into Teresa’s eyes, wondering what she would think of cutting their honeymoon short.

Teresa pulled back a bit, looking back at Tom.

“Yeah, let’s head home.”

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