Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: LOVE (agape and/or phileo) (03/12/15)
TITLE: This Is Your Life
By Francy Judge
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I whispered back, “Surprise! Wave to the audience.” We waved.
“I’m surprised alright.”
Jack Clancy, the host, approached Jerry with the microphone. “Welcome, Jerry and Anna. We have a great show today because … Jerry…This is you!”
The crowd exploded as if Jerry was a movie star.
“Here comes our first guest. You should remember this friendly guy. He was a resident at the group home you managed twenty years ago. He often called you Daddy though you were fifteen years younger.”
Henry strolled on stage. He smiled his crooked smile, waved to the audience, and said, “Tank you.” Then he recognized Jerry. He ran to him as fast as his little feet could work and gave Jerry a huge bear hug. “Juwwee, I missed you!”
Jerry wiped his eyes. I needed tissues. Even Jack Clancy blinked back a few tears.
“Now, everybody, turn your eyes toward the World Cam and watch the scenes from Jerry’s life. A circular screen descended from the ceiling as we watched a day twenty years ago. Seagulls squawked, and people covered their heads. Laughter from a distant place filled the room … and Jerry, larger than life, held a tennis ball in pitching position. “Ready, Henry?”
He pitched the ball slow and down the middle. Henry swung, late.
“Strike one!” a voice called from the outfield.
“Aww…geesh,” mumbled Henry.
Jerry pitched the ball ten more times, each with the same result. “It’s okay. You’ll get this one.” He threw one right to Henry’s bat. “Swing now!”
Henry whacked the ball just over Jerry. It rolled over second base. “Run!” Jerry ran to him for a high-five. “You did it!”
The scene switched to a beach. The crashing waves roared as if at our feet. Jerry and I walked alongside the nine residents of the group home. Jerry called to Henry, “Run for a pass.” Henry jogged ten paces, stretched his arms up to catch the football, and tipped over like a bowling pin into the rushing water. The riptide pulled him toward the ocean. Jerry charged in and dragged Henry to shore. “You okay? You scared me to death.”
“I’m wet and cold. You saved me.”
Other men and women with various handicaps wheeled onstage throughout the show. Jack Clancy announced: “This group should look familiar—you teach them at the Center for United Cerebral Palsy every day.”
The screen changed to a classroom scene. “Mr. Jerry, something’s wrong with my computer.” The words on the monitor were upside down.
Jerry wiggled the mouse. “Looks like you leaned your elbow on the button and turned everything to bird’s eye view again. No problem.”
Jerry circled the classroom, fixing computer problems. He adjusted adaptive equipment so the student who could only move his eyes was able to type words; those who couldn’t hold a fork could play computer games; the paralyzed woman could control a device with her teeth and was able to email letters. He taught different classes during the day, but the laughter and smiles continued.
At the end of the day, Jerry helped ten pairs of limp arms into coats, pulled hats over ears, and gloves on twisted hands. He wheeled each student to the bus and said goodbye. He drove home and stopped at the computer store to buy another program for the class.
Jack Clancy took the stage again. “We have one more group of guests to complete your life … welcome your four sons and daughter.” Our kids bounded onto the stage and hugged us.
The screen lowered once more. Our eyes filled as we watched birthday parties Jerry orchestrated, soccer games he coached, and baseball games he organized. He drove them to games, to school, to church, to college and back. The room was filled with Jerry’s big laugh and smiles.
As the World Cam disappeared, Jack Clancy stood near Jerry. “Jerry, you left a promising art career and chose to give your heart to people who needed you. This is your life!”
Everyone clapped as the theme song played.
Story inspired by the man I married and love.
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