Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)
TITLE: Can You Hear Them Singing?
By Suzanne Shepard
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The once vibrant life of a young carpenter named, George, was quickly waning as his tanned, weather-worn body succumbed to the disease that slowly and methodically claimed his last breath.
“Daddy”, Mary whispered softly, “Are you comfortable or is there something else I can do for you? Would you like a back rub, or do you need a sip of water?”
“Auuwwh,” grunted Dad with all the strength he could muster. His breathing was labored and it was obvious that he was close to slipping into eternity. The family was gathered around his bed as they waited solemnly for their father to leave. He was the kind of father who was always there for his children and now it was only fitting that they would be here for him at such an important time of transition.
As Mary quietly sat on the edge of his bed, pleasant memories flooded her mind as she replayed some of the most precious times she had shared with her father. Memories that from this day forward would be held in a most honorable place in her heart.
Memories of him crafting beautiful little pieces of furniture for each of his children’s homes for Christmas. Her favorite was the sculpted magazine rack that she still has proudly being used in her front room.
Memories of sitting on his lap as a young girl every lazy, Sunday afternoon as he read the Sunday funnies. She didn’t always understand what they meant, but she giggled anyways.
Memories of late summer evenings spent trudging through shoulder-high weeds and stumbling over furrowed fields as Dad led the family to the wooded blackberry patch. The bushes were fortified with ominous pickers, but the huge luscious fruit they harbored was well worth the wounds they incurred while gathering them. The youngest child always had the privilege of riding high on Dad’s shoulders and when they returned home, Mom would bake fresh blackberry pies and have fresh berries waiting on the breakfast table for the children to dress-up their morning cereal.
Mary thought back to the Sunday mornings when the family faithfully attended Catholic Mass. All of George’s eight daughters sang in the church choir. The loft was perched high above the congregation and it was a privilege to lead the people in song and praises to God. Sometimes, especially during the Christmas season, it was easy to imagine the voices of the choir singing in unison with the angelic hosts proclaiming the birth of the promised Christ Child.
Dad stirred just a bit and the movement brought Mary’s thoughts back to the present….
“What is it Dad?” Mary noticed that Dad was trying to make a motion with his knarled hand.
“What do you suppose he’s trying to say, Mom?”
“I think he’s making the sign of the cross…. I think he wants us to pray.” So Mother began to lead her children once again in the all familiar prayers of the rosary.
They had not prayed long when Dad stirred again…
Faintly, they could hear him say, “Do you see them? …. Can you hear them singing?”….. His voice drifted off and a smile lit his countenance for one last time. His feeble, twisted hand lifted ever-so-slightly to wave his final goodbye and then … he was gone. The angels had surely come to carry sweet Daddy off into the Presence of the Lord he worshiped and long patterned his life after.
“How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance.” Psalm 89:15
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