Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GREEN (01/19/17)
- TITLE: The Chair
By Francie Snell
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“We'll see what the doctor says, Dad. If he says it’s okay, then I'm taking you home, okay? I promise.”
For many years, Dottie had diligently and lovingly cared for her elderly parents.
The next day Louie was released and then sedated for the ambulance ride home. He awoke sitting in his favorite chair, and in the house he had lived in for over 61 years.
“Are you comfortable Dad?”
A look of astonishment swept over his face. “ I didn't think I’d ever get to sit in my green chair again, but here I am … you did it Dottie!”
“Yeah Dad… we did it… you’re home.”
When Paul and I talked with Louie over the phone a few days earlier, we realized it would probably be the last time. He could barely get a word out, choking with every breath. Right away we changed our flight plans and moved them three days ahead.
We prayed, that in those last precious days, God would give us time alone with Louie to talk with him about the Lord.
When we arrived in the early evening the house was full of family: sons and daughters, grandkids, and great grandkids, all gathering in the house Louie had remodeled six decades before. And in the middle of the living room sat Louie, eyes closed, resting in his big green Barcalounger.
I sat in a chair next to his and leaned in toward him. Softly I asked, “Hey Louie, how ya doin?” I reached up and stroked his forehead. “We love you Louie.”
He opened his eyes and gawked at me. “Susy?... well, I'll be darned (not exactly those words). When'd you get here? I didn't know you were coming! Where’s Paul?”
Paul moved in and sat next to me and took his father’s hand. “Hi Dad.”
“Paul!” he said, with heart wrenching affection in his voice. “Boy it sure is good to see you.”
Paul squeezed his hand. “It’s good to see you too Dad. We scheduled an earlier flight so we could get here sooner.”
“Heck, I didn't even know you were coming.”
“Yeah, well, you know how we always like to surprise you.”
“Well you sure did that.” Louie chuckled slightly, sputtered, and then started in a coughing bout that seemed to last forever. When he had finally caught his breath, I tried to lighten the mood. “Hey Louie, I like your green chair, looks comfy, I can see why you wanted to get back home so bad to sit in it.”
Dottie had bought it for him soon after he had lost the love of his life of 69 years. Dottie’s mother/Louie’s wife had died just before Christmas a year earlier.
The next day I got some alone time with Louie. My prayers had been answered. He silently rested as I sat reading aloud from the Bible. I hoped he was listening as John 3:16, John 14:6, and Psalm 23 were repeated throughout the day. And without knowing the secrets of his heart, I prayed aloud for his salvation.
That evening Paul spent over an hour alone with his dad having a one- way conversation. Normally, Louie may not have been willing to listen to Paul’s entire testimony, however, now, he was a quiet and captive audience.
The next morning Paul and I were at Louie’s side, both holding his hand as the country voice of Allan Jackson singing gospel songs emanated from my iPhone.We thought Louie was asleep. Yet, as the first chorus of Amazing Grace began, he opened his eyes and gazed up at the ceiling, appearing in awe of something only he could see. Paul and I looked at each other with wonder. Was God giving Louie a sneak preview of what awaited him?
A few hours later, with five of his family lovingly gathered around him, Louie peacefully gave his last breath.
We all stood around the casket in the dead of winter as three rounds of rifle shots crackled through the frozen Nebraska air, the resounding honors of a gun salute. The somber melody of Military taps echoed through the cemetery as our group huddled together against the biting wind.
At the ripe old age of 91, Louie had left a lesson to those who had paid attention, on how to live a selfless life, and die a peaceful death.
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