Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
TITLE: The Place To Be
By Deborah Engle
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The hand-full of mail he pulled from the roadside box included some attractive brochures. Marilyn’s been waitin’ on these. I’ll just add them to her pile…”
George looked across the yard where he saw his neighbor approaching. Tom’s arms were laden with a traditional summer offering.
“Now, that’s right nice of you. My garden’s doin’ rather poorly this year.” George slowly shook his head while leaning over to pull a clump of overgrown grass from under the rail fence. “It’s my own fault, though. I can’t deny it. Seems there’s just not time enough in the day to do everything that wants doin’.”
“I know what you mean, but another three weeks and that shouldn’t be a problem for you anymore.”
“You’re right. After 35 years, it’ll be strange not goin’ to the shop everyday. One of those condos in sunny Florida might be just the thing. No more snow or yard work.”
“Hey, have you considered that place I told you about? My brother can’t say enough good things about it. Boy, if I was of an age...”
“Ya know, I believe the brochure is right here in my hand. I’m on my way out right now, but we’ll sure look it over.” George checked his watch, then said a quick goodbye. “Thanks again for the zucchini.”
George met Marilyn coming through the door offering a gentle reminder. “There’s plenty of ailin’ folks that need a little cheerin’ up tonight. Best not to be gettin’ a late start,” She was settled in the car before he even had the front door locked.
Visitation passed quickly and the drive home offered a quiet time to talk over the days’ events. Remembering the unopened mail, George teased his wife. “We got somethin’ today that you’ve been waitin’ on.”
Studying George’s face for a clue, she took a guess. “It must be that brochure Tom ordered for us. We’ll both be needin’ to look that over.”
“You’re right. Tom thinks Sunny Haven is the place to be.” George shook his head. “He’s always lookin’ out for us. I believe he plants extra zucchini just so he can send some our way.”
Marilyn chuckled. “Or, maybe he’s just hopin’ there’ll soon be some zucchini bread comin’ his way.”
“You might be right!” George smiled, thoughtfully. “He is a great guy, but he still needs the Lord. We’ve lived next door to him all these years, but it just feels like we’ve not had an impact on his life.”
“You’re right.” Marilyn’s smile faded for a moment, but came back again with her next words. “Oh, I didn’t get a chance to tell you. Millie, across the street? Durin’ our garage sale last week she started askin’ questions. Now, she’s finally said she would come to my Bible study.”
“Well now, there’s something to thank God for.” George maneuvered the car into the driveway, turned off the headlights, and shut down the engine. Knowing her heart, George trusted that Marilyn would understand what he was about to say. “Darlin’ I’m thinkin’ there’s still an awful lot of work that wants doin’ around here.”
Marilyn could only agree. “Seems like we’ve got some more prayin’ to do.”
In time, they did make their decision, and one day George called across the yard, “Hello, neighbor!”
Tom shut the hose off, then ambled over to the fence. “What is it, eight A.M.? Hasn’t anyone told you that you’re retired now?” He smiled. “How’s it goin’, George?”
“I’ve got no complaints so far, but I do have a favor to ask.” We’ll be leavin’ soon, and I need someone to watch the house. Could ya do that for me?”
“You’re leaving? I knew you’d love that Sunny Haven. Wait till you get there. The brochures don’t even do it justice.”
“Yea, we’re headin’ down that way. Marilyn, she’s always wanted to see Florida, but we’ll be comin’ back. Seems, the more I look, the more work I see that needs doin’.” Hoping Tom wouldn’t notice the tears welling up in his eyes, he added, “We couldn’t ever be happy leavin’ things like they are.”
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