It had been hard after his wife had gone. Life was just so very different. He was no longer goaded, nor were his decisions ever challenged anymore; no one shared the meals or the house space. He was lonely, but he could now get his own way. There were no obvious solutions; he didn’t need new friends. He could remarry, but this just somehow seemed unthinkable. Someone else intruding into his personal space was a frightening thought.
He still had the kids. The daughter lived in the next suburb and “checked up on Dad” every week. He appreciated the attention and she did bring a meal each time but; did she have to go on and on about selling the place and moving into a retirement village. “Don’t hang on to this place for our sakes Dad” she kept saying “sell up and get a place that suits your needs better.” But this old home just suited his needs perfectly. The son was over every New Year to “see how Dad was getting on and what needed fixing?” Well yes the house did need some fairly urgent repairs, and these needed proper and reliable tradesmen, and you can never find these during the New Year break.
What he really wanted - well did he really know? Perhaps a good period of rest so that he could spend the money he had put aside for one last trip to the UK. There was no reason why not, except he was constantly so tired these days. If the GP could get his medication right he should be able to pick up enough to really enjoy one last trip. And then he could come home to die, say in about five years from now. We all have to die some time so why get precious about it? It was easy enough for his wife when she went, God grant that he would find it just as sudden and just as easy.
While he was on about God was he? you know, Ok for dying? Obviously it pays to get things right from the church point of view, and then you have a bet both ways. His wife never took her religion so seriously. So where was she now? Not in Hell, that was not so much as unthinkable as just silly. But wasn’t the Sunday school idea of heaven just as silly? Heaven, in the clouds was supposedly an everlasting church service; anything would get boring after a while; but for ever and ever that was just too much. What was it that he was supposed to do again? Repent, believe, change his ways and wasn’t there some special prayer he was supposed to say? There was, and he said it when he was fourteen does this mean he has been saved ever since? Well he didn’t go to church just to meet friends and have a cup of tea, did he? No he really was moved by those solemn moments, he even enjoyed the sermons without being critical. It would be silly to ask the minister how to be a Christian. The minister might tell every one about it, or worse still make him give a testimony. No on the whole he reckoned he knew God well enough and God surely knew him all too well. You can’t hide from God can you?
“Stop being so morbid”, he thought, “just get on with enjoying what is left of life and making the most of it. In fact get positive and go down to the travel agent in the morning and start asking about air fares; well I suppose I will have to ring. But it is so hard answering all those questions and beside they all try hard to book you in and get you to pay your fares on the spot. They never properly understand just what you are after. Actually I’m not really sure what I want myself. If only I had a helpful person to make economical suggestions and fix everything up for me, the way I like it.”
It was night-time so he went and lay on his bed too tired to change into his pyjamas. He still had to take his tablets and they were over in the bathroom. He would just relax for a while before getting up to go through all the whole rigmarole of going to bed. He lay back with his head on the pillow and realised that he seemed to be sinking slowly and the light was getting dimmer. “Hey”, he thought “I’ve had this before; it is just like one of those sensations that my daughter called a TIA. Should I ring for help or will it just pass over like the last one?” He felt a little scared and wished someone was with him. “Jesus and God help me.” He thought, it sounded a more like an irreverent oath than a prayer. As he lay there he found he could hardly move. Then he heard a voice from directly behind him. This was strange as he was lying down and completely alone, but the voice was quite clear even though he knew that no one else would hear it. “Here I am and …”.