"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 Fifty-eight
The Gentleness of Heaven

"Thy [God's] right hand hath holden me up, and Thy gentleness hath made me great."
~ Psalm 18:35 ~

After Charlie's eighteenth birthday, she had another reminder of the future that was never to be hers: Uncle Rick and Mae, the good friends that had hid Charlie and Adam during their honeymoon in the apple orchard in Oak Glen, welcomed a baby boy into the world. Once again, Charlie found herself holding a sweet, cuddly infant and telling the new parents how happy she was for them. And she was. But as she bravely kept back her tears, Adam was grateful that this was the last baby any of their friends were expecting for a while.

Adam knew very well that Charlie didn't need any more reminders of the future, and did his best to distract her with piano lessons. Every day, he had her working on finger exercises, until Charlie was impatient to play something that actually had a melody to it. Even "Old Mac Donald Had A Farm," would have been a welcome reprieve. When Charlie begged Dave to teach her something other than trills and scales, Dave only directed her to keep her wrists moving properly while she was playing them.

"I don't want to see any stiff movements," he instructed, returning Charlie's attention to the finger exercise before her. "I want smooth, fluid notes. Try it again."

Adam continued to alternate Charlie's lessons between himself and Dave. In Adam's free time, he would take one of Vera's books and sit on the thinking sofa to learn more about Alzheimer's Disease. At first, he also continued work on his new album, but as Adam kept reading about AD, the books gradually consumed his attention until they were all he could talk about.

As much as Charlie loved her husband for wanting to help, she found it difficult to continually hear about a disease that she was trying so hard to forget. There was nothing that could be done, so why torment themselves with statistics and medical journals that all said pretty much the same thing? There was no cure, and Adam's hoping for it only made Charlie all the more heartsick.

A few weeks after Charlie's eighteenth birthday, the situation finally came to a head. She was at her piano, struggling with a new exercise that Dave was trying to teach her, while Adam quietly sat on the tattered sofa with one of Vera's books.

Dave stood behind Charlie, trying to get her form down correctly. "You're not keepin' your fingers in the correct position," he sighed patiently. "Charlie, it's like this." He bent down and placed his hand on the keyboard. When Dave easily executed the exercise in perfect time to the metronome, Charlie groaned in dismay.

"It's no use, Dave! I'll never get it right!"

"If you haven't already noticed," Dave tried to encourage her, "the exercises have been getting more complicated, and you've been keepin' up. You're making good progress, Charlie. Now's not the time to give up."

With a weary sigh, Charlie straightened her back, and tried the exercise one more time. It was then that she noticed Adam on the sofa, gripping the book he was intently reading. Her fingers became still as she saw a single tear slip down Adam's cheek and fall onto his shirt. She didn't want to know what he was reading; it was about Alzheimer's Disease, and Charlie didn't need an explanation for his tears.

Dave silently resumed his seat at Adam's piano where he had been working on his own compositions. He didn't feel like playing right now, and sat motionless in front of the keyboard.

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