"The Greatest of These"
A Contemporary Romance

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Plot Summary

Love is the greatest of all...

Charlotte Overholt is used to responsibilities in her teenage life, but they're quickly multiplied when she learns her father has Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. As "Charlie" adjusts to these changes, she becomes acquainted with her father's good friend, Adam Clark. When Charlie's friendship with Adam blooms into something unexpected, Adam suddenly finds himself in a situation he never dreamt possible.

Middle-aged Adam Clark is a confirmed bachelor, settled in his ways with no hope of ever changing. But this unassuming Master Plumber has a big secret that not even Charlie can anticipate, and when it comes to light, no one in their small town will ever be the same again.
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Chapter Twelve
A Righteous Man's Prayer

"To every thing there is a... purpose under the heaven."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~

For some reason known only to the Providential planning of God, Clark Plumbing Service and Supply saw so little business Thursday morning, that Adam left charge of the store to Mike, while he went home to work in his garden.

Adam was dressed in his gardening overalls, bent over a tomato plant, and about to reach for a spade, when the tool suddenly appeared in his hand. Adam looked up, only to find Charlton, who had been quietly observing Adam as he worked in his garden.

"Hello," greeted Adam, surprised by Charlton's unannounced presence in his backyard. Charlton nodded in response, and leaned back on the wrought iron fence that ran the border of Adam's backyard. The silence of his visitor was at first disturbing to Adam, but the longer Charlton remained mute, the more Adam realized there was an unspoken war ensuing between the Alzheimer's and Charlton-- both battling to gain control of his body. Not wanting to make his guest feel uncomfortable, Adam continued with his gardening. "Look at these peas," observed Adam, pointing to a long row of clinging vines that had grown over into the tomatoes, "give a pea an inch, and they'll take over the whole garden!" Adam's joke had some effect on Charlton, for his lips parted in a small smile. "Got to keep the peas in their place," continued Adam, pruning back the unruly vines. When Charlton realized that his presence had not made Adam feel uncomfortable, he ventured to make a short remark about the weather. "Yes, it is good weather today," replied Adam. Charlton was about to say something more, but hesitated, as if unsure what word he was missing to complete his next thought. Seeing that Charlton was embarrassed, and not wanting to show pity that would, doubtless, make his guest retreat from the yard, Adam continued with his work in silence.

The sun slowly crept to the noon position in the sky, reminding Adam that it was lunchtime by its stinging rays on his back. Adam looked to the spot where Charlton had been standing, and upon seeing that he was no longer there, suddenly realized that he was bent over in the tomato row, busily pulling weeds and small shoots of grass that had migrated from Adam's lawn. "Thank you," smiled Adam, gratefully. "Come on, let's clean up. I'll treat you to lunch," invited Adam, pulling off his gloves and tossing them down on the green lawn.

"You don't have to do that," responded Charlton, who was unaware that it was lunchtime.

"The workman is worthy of his hire," disagreed Adam, opening the back door, and disappearing into the house. Charlton noticed Adam left the door open for him. Charlton remembered how Frank, his longtime friend of several years, had acted uncomfortably around him upon learning that he had Alzheimer's. Not wanting to repeat that same feeling of desertion, Charlton had put up a wall, to guard himself from being hurt again. But Adam was different. Charlton had sensed that the very first time he met him. He didn't know why he felt drawn to Adam, nor did he understand the Divine Providence that was drawing him, but the leading was there and could not be denied. Charlton stepped out of the garden, stamped the dirt from his shoes, and went inside.

Adam was standing at the sink, rinsing off a lather of soap from his hands, when Charlton closed the back door and stood, blinking, in the middle of the kitchen.

"It takes a while to adjust your eyes to the indoors," observed Adam, drying his hands on a towel beside the sink, and stepping aside to let Charlton use the sink next. While Charlton washed up, Adam opened the refrigerator and pulled out a casserole dish of barbecue-glazed chicken. "My sister," said Adam, sliding the casserole dish into the oven, "refuses to believe that I can live without 'home cooking,' so she makes these meals for me ahead of time." Adam placed two plates on the kitchen table and returned to the refrigerator. "Seven Up or Pepsi?" he asked his guest.

"Pepsi," replied Charlton, looking around the kitchen now that his eyes had adjusted. "You have a nice house," observed Charlton, upon seeing the marble counter tops and oak-finished cabinets lining the kitchen walls. "Jerome mentioned that you're a plumber," continued Charlton, the words coming easier now.

"Yes, I am," replied Adam, pulling out a chair at the table and opening his can of Seven Up. Charlton did likewise, feeling relieved that the Alzheimer episode was retreating. He was beginning to feel "normal" again. "What do you do?" asked Adam.

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