Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: HOME (02/07/19)
- TITLE: It's Time
By Jennifer Woodley
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‘Happy Birthday, Florence!’ life-long acquaintances shouted.
‘Happy Birthday, Grandma!’ the grandchildren and great-grandchildren chorused.
‘Happy Birthday, Mum!’ called her seven, beautiful, laughing adult-children.
Florence positioned her frail ninety-year old body a little more comfortably on the lounge. She folded her gnarled, arthritic hands that had been molded by a life time of pain and pleasure, on top of one another.
‘Thank you, thank you’ she whispered softly in a voice that was barely audible. Her heart burst with gratitude, but she didn’t have the stamina to express how thankful she truly was.
The sea of faces before her swirled, the joyous laughter and chattering mingled indistinctly, over the music of, who was that singer? Florence strained her mind to remember way back. Perhaps it was Frank Sinatra crooning ‘Nice and Easy’, but she couldn’t be sure.
A welcome memory caught her by surprise: a time long ago when Florence and Bobby danced every Friday night entwined in each others arms at ‘Riccardo’s Restaurant.’ Like gold star dust, the image of young lovers in full flight on the dance floor settled gently upon Florence, leaving her glowing and shining as she mused on the memory.
‘Grandma, would you like a drink?’ her youngest grand-daughter asked, slicing through Florence’s pleasant reverie.
Florence looked affectionately at the blue-eyed, little fairy that twirled in white lace, stiff tulle and pink ribbons. ‘Was that shimmering star dust on her glowing cheeks too?’ Florence wondered.
‘Well, maybe a cool glass of lemonade would be nice’ she murmured back to the dancing nymph, who floated away effortlessly on her errand.
Another memory: this time gliding together with Bobby in their teens at the school dance. Her dress was just like Chloe’s: soft, wispy, lace and white tulle with a slender, pink sash tied at the back. The memory warmed her heart and sudden, hot tears dampened her cheeks. Florence ached for Bobby.
‘Don’t fret my love, I’m coming home soon. The waiting is almost over.’ she whispered.
The birthday celebrations continued. Speeches, applause, photos and prayers. Caring actions and kind words. Florence chuckled to herself as she heard them announce, ‘The most wonderful woman we've ever known!’
She rallied herself for their sake, though Florence felt detached from the party in her honor for most of the evening. ‘Almost like I am outside myself looking back’ she mused. ‘Perhaps I am floating away in lace and tulle on fairy wings, leaving a trail of star dust behind me.’ Her thoughts were muddled; fragments of past memories and momentary, present realities woven together with a thread of deep longing.
The following morning dawned bright and sunny with a gentle wind whispering through the camphor laurels in the garden below Florence’s window. But there was another whisper that called out stronger and louder: God’s loving call beckoning Florence into a faraway land. She was ready to answer. A long-awaited place had been prepared for her: Florence’s everlasting home.
‘Good morning, Florence’ chirped the duty nurse. ‘Such a beautiful day. Let me help you up to get showered.’
Florence smiled to the nurse. ‘I’m being made ready to bow before my Maker and see my Bobby.’she said.
‘Perfume, Florence?’ the nurse smiled.
‘Why not?’ she answered.
A fresh, white, toweling bathrobe adorned her. Was that a sash of pink satin being tied around her waist or just the plain, terry toweling? Florence wasn’t sure.
‘Are you up for breakfast today, Florence?’
‘No, just a cup of tea, thank you.’
Florence leaned back on her pillow. Soft morning light filtered through the floral curtain, splashing sunbeams playfully over her face. The warmth soaked into her tiny frame and the soothing sensation reminded Florence of a time long ago.
‘Bobby, remember those wonderful afternoons when we lay loafing under the maples in our backyard and dreamed of what we’d do together?’ Dreams about marriage, about children, about traveling and sharing a home. I’m ready for our new home together, Bobby. And we’ll never have to leave.’
Florence knew it was time. She had no fear; just an eagerness to see the One whom she had faithfully served and loved for a life time. And to see her Bobby again. The time had come and with a gentle, nod of her head and slump of her body, Florence was home.
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