The old man is sitting on the porch swing. The sun peaks through the swaying oak leaves to reveal a weathered face, deeply wrinkled with age. His eyes still sparkle with mischief, although his body can no longer act upon it. You can hear his labored breathing as he slowly rocks back and forth. His body is a mere shell of the muscular lad he used to be. Disease and years have eaten away all but his spirit. There is wisdom in his weathered face, the kind that comes from years of experience.
He is happy that he talked his son into bringing him outside, then helping him to sit in the swing. None of the children wanted to leave him alone, but his insistence finally paid off. He sits, and enjoys the peaceful silence while looking out over the land he loves so much. The sounds of birds singing and the buzzing insects are music to his soul. He struggles to breath in the sweet fragrance of the land. His heart swells with love for this place he has called home for so long.
Glancing around, he spies the wheel chair that has mocked him for too long.
“Soon, you will be pushed away into a closet. Or better yet, maybe dumped into a hole and covered with garbage. Ha!” he chuckles to himself as he scolds the wheelchair. The effort to speak leaves him gasping for air.
His mind relives a life of hardship, and abundant love as he glances over the landscape before him. The land belonged to his father, before it became his. Everywhere he looks, he sees a memory. He looks toward the old barn and remembers the day he met Sophie.
His face lights up with a smile as he remembers the first time he saw her. He knew right off that she was the one he’d been waiting for. It was only a few months later that he asked her to be his bride. Fifty years of marriage and three children followed. The years were hard, but they were good years. He still remembers the birth of each child and how proud he was to help her deliver them into this world. They were each other’s best friend and inseparable throughout their lives together.
A tear rolls down his leathery face as he recalls the day the Lord took her home. He felt the pain of losing her would kill him, and for many months he prayed it would. The Lord had different plans though. He never felt whole after she was gone, yet he trusted the Lord to guide him. The agonizing days turned into years, and he remained. He stood faithful.
He feels the pain that is ripping through his body as his breathing becomes more difficult. He could call for help, but instead fixes his gaze on a lone cloud in the sky. He summons all the strength of will he can, and remains calm as nature takes it’s course. He knows death is near. He is ready, and welcomes it.
Lord, don’t let my children see me leave. Please, just let them know it was time, and comfort their hearts.
The air fills with light around him. He sees her standing there, just as she was when they first met. His weathered hand reaches out to hers, and miraculously he sees himself becoming young once more. The two embrace and share a sweet kiss of reunion, then turn to see Him standing there.
“Welcome home my child” Jesus says sweetly as He embraces them both. The three of them watch as the family rushes out to the porch.
The swing is barely moving now, and the old man is slumped forward. The family is frantic and one dials a cell phone for an ambulance. For several minutes they try to revive the old man, but it is too late.
Long agonizing moments pass before the oldest son steps forward to intervene.
“Let him rest, he’s home now.” he says softly as he gently reaches forward, and touches the peaceful smile on his father’s face.
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