TITLE: Girshom's Walk
By Holly Jensen
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He was eighty-two years old. It had been a good life; it was full of good deeds and misdeeds, as all lives are. It was his daily routine in this full life to take a morning walk. Of course, their had been breaks in this routine. When his wife was dying of cancer and he couldn't bear to leave her side. When his little ones were sick, and he told them story after story to keep their minds occupied. But for the most part, Girshom Frankel had remained faithful to this custom.
Today he was readying himself for a walk near his little house. He would walk two blocks down, one block over, two blocks back up, and cross to his side of the street once more. For some reason, he was more tired than usual today, but not so tired that he would stay home. He loved the tree-lined streets of his neighborhood. The birds sang and the residential area did not have an over abundance of traffic. It was a good time to talk with his Lord and contemplate His goodness over the years.
Girshom locked his house and started on his way. He had only gotten a little way down the first block when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Good morning," he said to the gentleman he saw walking beside him.
"Are you new in this town?"
"Not really," the young man said. "I've been here quite a long time actually."
"That's funny. I thought I new all the young folks in this town."
"Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Frankel," the young man said with a small smile.
Girshom was a bit taken aback by the fact that this young fellow knew his name, but in his eighty-two years, he had learned not to be overly disturbed by seemingly odd events. He didn't have long to think on these things because the young man began speaking again.
"I've been told to show you a few things, Mr. Frankel. You will take more than one walk this day."
Girshom didn't have time to think about this last comment either because all of a sudden, the tree-lined sidewalk disappeared and a school-room replaced it. His eyes were focused on a little boy sitting near the back of the classroom.
Involuntarily, Girshom burst out, "It's me!"
"Yes," answered his companion.
The people in the school-room didn't notice because they could not hear the conversation of their observers. The classroom was quiet and all heads were bent over papers. It was test-taking time. Then the boy near the back of the room furtively flicked his eyes to the left and began to write on his paper. The teacher rose from her desk and quietly moved toward him. Silently, she removed the boy's paper from the desk.
Girshom's vision then focused on a living room. There sat a man, a woman, and the little boy. He watched and relived the memory of confessing to his parents what he'd done and their disappointment. Then he relived what was the sweetest memory of his lifetime. His mother and father told him of the saving grace of Christ that would provide him with forgiveness for what he'd done and cleanse him from all other sin. He had been raised with these teachings all of his life, but now they had real meaning. That night, Girshom Frankel knelt and prayed to ask Jesus into his heart.
Elizabeth Chase was watering her flower beds when she saw Mr. Frankel walk by. He walked this rout every day that the weather permitted and Mrs. Chase looked forward to seeing him. Mr. Frankel always had a friendly smile and greeting for everyone. This day, however, he seemed distracted. He had a broad smile on his face, but he didn't seem to see her! He passed without turning his head or saying a word! Mrs. Chase thought it was awful strange, but she knew that people get absent-minded sometimes. So she didn't pay any attention as he walked by her yard on his way down the next block.
"You grew slowly at first," the young man with Girshom was saying. "It was hard to remember what Jesus said was good and bad and keep on the straight path, but you stuck to it. You paid more attention at temple and seemed to understand more."
"Yes," Girshom said, "I remember. My friends thought I'd turned into a goody-goody. They were right, I suppose. But I don't regret it one bit."
"No," said the man, "And you began to grow faster as you held firm to the new life you'd chosen. You began to read the Bible as you grew older and the Holy Spirit taught you more and more."
Just as Girshom's companion finished, Girshom saw a hospital room slowly appearing before his eyes. There was his wife, young again and even prettier than he remembered. She held something in her arms. It was a tiny baby boy; his first-born. Girshom also saw himself gazing at the tiny infant and weeping his heart out at the joy, beauty, and sheer overwhelming delight of seeing his baby boy. He saw his hands rise in thanks to God who had entrusted him with this beautiful gift. Girshom wept at sight of this precious memory.
Mr. Archer was taking his own daily walk on this beautiful day. He didn't enjoy it as much as his fairly close neighbor, Girshom Frankel, though he wished he did. Girshom was healthy and spry; a result of his many walks, to Mr. Archer's way of thinking. Why, there was Girshom now, turning the corner to head back toward his house! He was crying!
"Something wrong, Girshom?" Mr. Archer called.
There was no answer from the silently weeping old man. Why, it seemed as though he hadn't even heard him! What in the world was going on? But nothing really appeared to be wrong, so Mr. Archer continued his walk and didn't give it another thought.
"I couldn't get it in my head," Girshom said. "He was so small, so perfect, and God had given him to me! Me and Anna."
"Yes, you and Anna. She was a good mother to David and your other children. And you are a good father."
"I have to admit, I've had my doubts," Girshom replied. "There's many a thing I'd do better if I had half a chance. Like spend more time with them when they were little. And spend more time with Anna."
"Yes, Anna. You know she's with Jesus now, Mr. Frankel."
"Yes, I know. She knew she'd go there. It was so beautiful to see her trusting like that."
"Yes," said the young man, "And it was beautiful seeing your trust in God through everything."
Suddenly, there it was before Girshom's eyes. The sunny bedroom and his wife on the bed, looking almost like a scarecrow. The only thing the cancer hadn't quite taken was her bright smile. She was smiling now as she told him that it wouldn't be long until they would both be together, hugged hard by their Savior. Girshom hadn't cried at first when she left him. He just sat with the picture she'd painted in his mind, smiling slightly. Then it hit. Until that time, he would have to wait. And that seemed an unbearable task. He wept then, as though his heart would break. It didn't, though it came close. But the years he'd spent in the Word and growing closer to the Lord stood Girshom Frankel in good stead. He went to Him Who Bears Our Burdens, and found the strength to stand again.
"You found work to do then," said his traveling companion. "You volunteered with youth and other old folk who were grieving the loss of someone they loved. You touched many lives in the name of Christ, Mr. Frankel. And you grew even closer to your Savior."
"Yes," said Girshom, "That's been the best part of it all. I had time after losing Anna. I had more time for the Word and I found more joy in it than ever before. It hasn't always been easy. I still miss her, but I haven't been alone."
"No," the young man answered, now taking hold of Girshom's aged hand. "The walk hasn't been an easy one in many ways. But you walked the walk, Mr. Frankel. It's the end of the block now. It's time to go home and rest."
Nurse Cherrylyn Marquez was just leaving her house to head for the hospital when she caught sight of her next-door neighbor, Girshom Frankel, heading across the lawn toward his house. She was just about to call out to him, but saw Mr. Frankel fall to the ground. Her professional instincts taking over, Nurse Marquez rushed to the old man's side. She found no pulse, no breath. She hurriedly placed a call to 911 and then began administering CPR. She kept on until the paramedics arrived.
Girshom Joshua Frankel was pronounced DOA. by Doctor James Carlyle of Joseph Gains Memorial Hospital.
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