Caroline closed the blinds and cast a cursory glance around her plush apartment. On the far wall, a colourful display of holiday pictures brought a smile to her face. Memories, captured in time with girls from the admin block.
In stark contrast, on the dresser, an old brown photo image of a couple with a young child clutching a big metal bucket.
The aroma of summer flowers filled the room. A huge bouquet adorned the table with many greetings cards from colleagues.
Strangely, the room seemed smaller, less vibrant than before. Caroline hoped that retirement proved to be the correct choice for her.
Of course everyone planned to keep in touch, like they do. Caroline had heard it all before. People become absorbed in the here and now; the old has-beens are soon forgotten. But she didn’t mind that so much.
Flopping onto the lounger her eyelids drooped as she took stock. A sea of faces, well wishes and hugs swirled in her head. ‘Time to collect the eggs Caroline.’ Mum’s voice was loud and clear. Caroline awoke with a start.
‘Oh mum,’ she laughed, picking up the photograph. ‘I’d no idea I was so exhausted.’
The phone rang. ‘Hi Penny, yes I’ve finally done it. And where on earth did you dig the old photo from?’ She asked her cousin.
‘In among my mum’s old stuff.’
‘That’s amazing. I’ll even forgive you for taking it into work behind my back.’
After a restless night’s sleep, Caroline awoke to the blissful realisation that she could stay in bed all day if she wanted to; but no, that was not on her agenda.
By 7.30, she had showered, breakfasted and settled in her ruminating spot by the window. In her hands she clutched a tattered, leather bound book. Glancing down on the vista of high rise office blocks and lines of congested traffic, she shuddered.
‘Lord,’ she began. ‘It’s the morning rush hour. And I’m done with rushing!’ She paused, ‘I have a confession to make.
‘Lord, I’m a fake. I’m not who people think I am. I am not the bright and bubbly oldie, always up for a laugh; the party animal who loves a knees up. Far less the jet setter, swanning the world over before she croaks.
‘Lord, my life is one big lie.’ There was no drum roll or lightning strike from above, so she continued.
‘How I wish I could step back in time. See this picture? Simple, hardworking folk. Dad tending his vegetable plot; me scattering corn for the hens.
‘We were poor and times were hard. But one thing I remember well. Though not church goers, every night when mum tucked me into bed, we recited a little prayer.
Jesus, tender Shepherd hear me
Bless Thy little lamb tonight
Through the darkness, be Thou near me
Keep me safe ‘til morning light
‘I can feel you now, sitting beside me in the darkness, holding my hand. You were so real to me once.
When the morning light awakens
Then I’ll thank Thee for Thy care,
Take me when I die to Heaven,
Forever to be with you there.
‘And I did. Every morning I thanked you. I trusted you to always be there.
‘What happened, Lord?
‘I’ve been searching. Endlessly seeking, chasing my tail; trying all ways to find a fix. I’m missing out big time. There’s a gaping hole inside me. A place that no-one sees. A wound that never heals. An ever flowing torrent of unrest.
‘I’m sorry Lord. I don’t even know how to speak to you. Can you help me? Please?’
Caroline sighed deeply, fingering the Bible on her lap. When she finally opened it she found spidery writing on the inside cover.
‘To my future grandchildren, whom I may never meet in this life, please…
READ… LEARN… DIGEST
Grandpa, who died in battle during WW1, handed down a family legacy to his child; who by kneeling in prayer at the bedside of her own infant daughter sparked a thirst in her that would not be quenched.
Caroline marvelled at the ‘coincidence’ that she should be given Grandpa’s Bible and the family picture right now. She’d seen neither for years.
She mused a while, reflecting on the endless unfulfilled and wasted years. The unfamiliar silence was delicious. She savoured every moment as she began to read; slowly, prayerfully and hopefully.
But in the silence, Caroline failed to hear all heaven rejoice as another lamb returns to the fold.*
*Scripture reference - Luke 15:7 (NIV)
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