By Ron Mears
Rose Patterson stared vacantly out her kitchen window. The rain was
cascading down. As she slowly sipped her black coffee Rose’s thoughts drifted
back to a similar rainy day seven years ago - the day she lost everything she loved.
That fateful day Rose’s husband, Jonathan, her daughter Mindy, and beautiful
granddaughter, Sally Ann were all killed in a car accident caused by a drunk
After seven years the intensity of the pain had eased some but still there was
a big hole in her heart that could never be filled. For the first five years Rose had
lived in a deep dark hole swirling with despair, hatred, and a host of other emotions.
Before the accident Rose had been active in church and charity work. She had
been a leader of the women’s circle and had often volunteered at the Salvation
Army and hospital auxiliary. All that ended seven years ago. Her faith was shaken.
If there was a loving, caring God where was he that day?
Time heals ever so slowly but two years ago something happened that gave
Rose a new reason to live. Most of her old friends at church had given up on her,
including the pastor. His heart was in the right place but he told her friend, Betty,
“Rose is beyond my reach. Only God can help her now.” Betty didn’t agree and
did not give up. After continuous prodding Betty convinced her to visit Bellview
Nursing Home with her one day. Rose didn’t want to go and had only agreed
because Betty promised if she would go one time she would never ask her again.
It was there that she met Tony. Tony was a grizzled old man suffering
from cirrhosis of the liver and a legion of other health problems brought on by
years of cheap wine, cigarettes, and hard living. A nurse told Rose that Tony
had lived on the streets before coming to the nursing home. Social Security
Disability paid for his care, or at least part of it. The rest was written off
because as far as they knew Tony had no living relatives. For some reason Rose
was drawn to Tony. Maybe it was because she understood his despair.
Rose started visiting Tony almost everyday. It was rough going at first.
Sometimes Tony would cuss at Rose and call her filthy names. Rose knew that it
wasn’t personal. It was just a defense mechanism. Tony was trying to keep her
out, to protect his dark reality. Later when she wouldn’t go away he stopped
cussing at her and just ignored her. He would turn his back and stare at the wall.
Rose would sit for hours knitting and talking about whatever came to mind. She
would sometimes read to him. She noticed an old tattered Gideon Bible on the
night stand next to his bed. Several times she had been tempted to pick it up and
read to Tony from the gospels or the psalms but she was still struggling with her
own faith. How could she offer Tony faith if she had none to give?
Eventually Tony stopped turning away when she came in. The nurses told
her that Tony anticipated her visits and would watch the door when it was time for
her to come. One day as she was leaving Tony mumbled “Bye Rose.”. The next
day he opened up and began to talk to her. He told her that he once had a wife and
and two boys but he came home one day and they were gone. Tony never was able
to find them. She also found out that he had spent a short time in prison but he
wouldn’t tell her why.
One day recently Rose finally had the courage to tell Tony her story.
As she talked about the accident and her lost family Tony grew quiet. He turned
away and stared at the wall to shut her out. Rose noticed a tear in the corner of
his eye. Even when she left he would not turn around to speak to her. That was
the last time Tony spoke to her. The next day his health took a turn for the
worse. His nurse said that it was as if he had given up. Rose sat and talked to
him but Tony didn’t respond.
Rose took one more sip of her coffee. It was so warm and cozy in her
kitchen. Surely he would understand if she did not go today? It was wet and
cold and more importantly it was the seventh anniversary of the accident. While
she was struggling with her conscience the phone rang. Must be Betty she thought
checking up on me.
“Hello.” she said softly.
“Hello, Mrs. Patterson? This is Denise Winslow.” Mrs. Winslow was the
Administrator of The Bellview Nursing Home. Rose had often spoke with
her about Tony. Rose was impressed by her kindness and concern for Tony.
“Rose, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
Rose gasped, “Tony?”
“Yes, I’m sorry. Tony passed away this morning. I wanted you to be the
first to know.”
Rose was numb. Poor Tony. “Not today, God! Of all days, not today.”
Rose’s mind was swirling. It was as if it was happening all over again.
“Are you okay, Rose?” asked Mrs. Winslow.
“Yes, I’m sorry. I will be there in about 30 minutes.”
“Are you sure? The weather…”
“Yes, I’ll be there soon. Thank you for calling.”
Rose hung up the phone and started dressing. How could this happen
today? Tony had saved her from deep dark despair and now he too had been taken
away from her.
Even with Jonathan’s big old yellow and white golf umbrella Rose was
soaked by the time she arrived at the Nursing Home. The receptionist took her
to Mrs. Winslow’s Office and brought her a hot cup of coffee.
“Rose, thank you for coming.”
“Thank you for calling me, Mrs. Winslow. That was very thoughtful.”
“Well, I knew that Tony had no one else. You were his only friend.”
“In fact, I am glad you are here. I have something for you. Tony told
Peggy, his favorite nurse that if anything happened to him he wanted you to
have this.” Mrs. Winslow handed Tony’s tattered Bible to Rose.
“Thank you. You know I never saw Tony read this.”
“Peggy said that she had caught him reading it a few times but when she
came into the room he would put it down.”
“Can I… Would it be possible..?”
“Would you like to see him before the funeral home picks him up?”
“Oh, yes, please. If you don’t mind?”
“Certainly. I’ll walk down there with you.”
The two women walked down the hallway hand in hand. Tony was
covered in a white sheet. Mrs. Winslow pulled it back and said, “I’ll let you
have a few minutes alone with him.”
“Thank you so much” said Rose as the women hugged.
Rose stood there a few minutes looking at Tony’s sad grizzled face.
She remembered the Bible in her hand. She opened it to find the Sermon on the
Mount. It fell open to the very page she was looking for. Tucked in that page
was a folded yellowing newspaper article. The date of the article caused a
chill to course through her body. She slowly lifted the paper and read it. Her
fear was confirmed. It was an article about Jonathan’s accident.
Her mind raced. Why would Tony have that article in his Bible? She
noticed something written on the margin of the article in Tony’s shaky scrawl,
“Forgive us our trespasses..” Then in an instant of horror a name leaped out at
Rose from the paper, William Anthony Jones. Tony was the drunk driver who
had taken away everything she loved on that wet and dreary day seven years ago.
Rose collapsed to her knees by the bed. Sobs welled up from deep within
her being. “No, God! No, not Tony!” she cried. Rose sobbed uncontrollably. Seven
years of pain; seven years of hatred.; seven years of sorrow all flowed out of her at
Then just as quickly as the sobbed began, they ceased.
She touched the face of the broken soul on the bed and in a soft calm whisper
Rose said, “I forgive you, Tony. Please forgive me.”
Rose turned and left the room. She stopped by Mrs. Winslow’s Office to
thank her for her kindness.
“Mrs. Winslow, If you don’t mind I would like to help pay for and
coordinate the funeral arrangements.”
“That is not necessary, Rose. Are you sure?”
“Yes. It may not be necessary but it is what I need to do.”
“I will notify the funeral home and have them contact you.”
“Thank you and God Bless You.”
That was the first time Rose had said that to someone in seven years.
When she stepped out of Bellview the sky was clearing and the light of the
sun was just beginning to break through the clouds.
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