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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

Home Sweet Home
by Sharon Niese

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Grace shuffled down the narrow hallway to the small bedroom located at the rear of her house. The worn gray carpet had little give anymore, making her every step even more painful. Grace found it so very hard to move lately. She had to will herself to get up and move. She had never been one to just sit around, but at the age of 90 she was well aware of the fact that just being able to move was a blessing.

Every afternoon when the sun was high she would shuffle back to her room, her special room. She would go and sit in her rocker and just enjoy her room.

As she reached the knob to open the door she smiled. "My," she thought, noticing her hand on the doorknob, "my hands are so bony and so wrinkled!" There was a time when they had been so soft; a time when her fingers had been long and slim. How long ago had that been? Many, many years had passed since then. Grace opened the door and she could see the sunlight streaming into the room for the back window. The bright sunlight seemed to warm her whole body. The faded blue wallpaper still looked beautiful to her. She blinked several times as she looked around the room. Every wall of the room was filled with pictures, pictures from her life. No van Gogh or Rembrandt, No sir! These pictures were much more valuable to Grace than any of theirs could ever be.

Grace walked to an old oak rocker and eased herself into it. Her husband, Tom, had made this rocker for her in honor of their first child. The rocker was still strong and sturdy like she used to be. Grace pushed a strand of hair away from her pale blue eyes and once again noticed how white it had become. Her hair had been golden blond once, and she had always worn it long because of its natural wave. Tom had loved her hair. He always kidded her that her hair weighed more than she did. Grace was only 5'2" and slim built. Her blue eyes no longer had the gleam they once did. But, there was still a special light in them. Her eyes seemed to smile.

Grace had married Tom at the age of eighteen and for 54 years she was blessed with the most wonderful man in the world. They had shared their love for one another along with joy, sorrow and pain. But, they shared it together. And with the Lord's help, they had grown strong in their relationship. Oh yes, God had been good to them. Now eighteen years later she could still feel the loss she had felt when Tom went home to be with Jesus. She had never gotten over that loss, and she knew she never would. But, the Lord helped her to go on and go on is just what she did.

Grace looked at the wedding picture of Tom and herself that hung on the wall. Oh, so long ago that had been! Time since that day had seemed to fly by. Beneath the wedding picture were the baby pictures of the two children God had blessed them with. Richard was the first born, then two years later Janice came along. Grace and Tom had both their pictures taken often, and these pictures now lined the walls of her special room. Every wall was filled with family pictures. Oh, the memories, those precious memories. God had not only blessed her with two beautiful children but with five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Their pictures were displayed on every wall of this room. This was her room, her special room where she could come and read God's Word and pray for her blessed family.

On a small oval table near the rocker was her family Bible, a little worn from use, but still readable. Although her eyesight was not what it used to be, she could still open the Bible and read it everyday. This was her time, a time to be with the Lord. She knew that without Him she had nothing at all.

Grace reached for the Bible, and as she did, a card slid out of it falling toward the floor. As she quickly reached to keep it from hitting the carpet, she lost her balance and fell from the rocker onto the floor. Dazed from the confusion, she tried to sit up, but was unable to move. She brought the card to her lips and held it there. This was the card Tom had given to her on their 50th wedding anniversary. Tom had told her to put it in her Bible at Proverbs 31. That is exactly what she had done, and it had stayed there always--until this moment. Grace knew every word that was written inside it. She had read and re-read it many times. She closed her eyes, seeing in her mind the words Tom had written to her.

"My beloved wife, our precious Lord has given us fifty years together as man and wife. They have gone by so quickly. God has never left us. He has been our Comforter, our Healer, our Banner, and our Peace. Yes, He has blessed us immeasurably. When I thank Him for all He has given me, I thank Him for you, my wife. I love and cherish you, my beautiful Grace..Love forever, Tom."

Grace opened her eyes and sighed, "Yes, oh yes, God is so good." She once again tried to get up from the floor. Using every ounce of strength she possessed, she was able to get back into the rocking chair. Winded and worn out, she sat back and took several deep breaths. "Thank you Lord," she whispered. Everything was so hard to do anymore. She was so very tired. Grace looked around the room. How she loved this room. It was her favorite place to be. The room was peaceful and warm. Grace picked up her Bible and opened it to Matthew. She turned to one of her favorite Scriptures, Matthew 11:28-30 and read it out loud.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Tears ran down Grace's face as she said, "Oh sweet Jesus, I do lean on you as I always have. Thank You for loving me."

A brilliant light filled the small room. It was so bright Grace had to close her eyes. When she opened them again she saw a man in the center of the light. She knew who He was! It was her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! He opened His arms wide and said, "Come home, Grace." Grace smiled and just nodded, then rose eagerly and lightly to go with Him.

That evening when Tom II and his daughter Rose came to bring Nan's supper they went straight to her favorite room as usual. As they walked into the room they saw Grace sitting in her favorite spot with her eyes closed and a soft smile on her face. Tom walked quietly over to the side of the rocker, intending to waken her gently. He soon realized that she was not just sleeping. She was gone. Tears filled his eyes as he turned to his daughter and said, "Nan has gone home, honey, Home Sweet Home." He then held Rose in his arms as they both cried. They did not cry for Grace, but for themselves and for their loss. Tom coaxed his daughter out of Grace's special room back to the living room so they could call the family and tell them that their beloved Nan had gone home: Home, Sweet Home.

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