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Chapter Twenty-one
The First Snow of the Season

"He [God] giveth snow like wool: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth His ice like morsels: who can stand before His cold? He sendeth out His word, and melteth them: He causeth His wind to blow."
~ Psalm 147:16-18 ~

As the jeep neared home, Abby glanced at her quiet passenger. She noticed that the nervous excitement in his face was starting to give way to weariness, for he could still feel the lingering effects of the hospital medications. Sedated with drugs and fatigue, the young man was becoming increasingly anxious to reach home so he could finally lay down and let the pain in his chest subside. Just as he began to think that he could wait no longer, Jake saw the small yellow house he called home, suddenly come into view.

"We're home," announced Abby, pulling the vehicle as close as she could to the front of the house. "Do you think you can make it to the front door, Jake? I'm afraid we don't have a wheelchair, like at the hospital."

"I just want to lay down," he softly breathed. Seeing Abby still looked concerned, he added, "I can make it."

John and Terry got out of the jeep and went to Jake's passenger door, ready to help in whatever way they could.

Mentally preparing himself for the pain that would follow, Jake carefully stepped out of the jeep, and weakly stood up in the bracing November air, his knees buckling ever so slightly beneath him. The ex-convict wasn't wearing the coat Abby had offered him earlier that morning, and he was beginning to regret it. The cold effortlessly penetrated his thin, long sleeved shirt, chilling him to his very core.

When Abby joined him on the other side of the vehicle, something small and white, gently floated to the ground. The snowflake was soon joined by its friend, and others quickly followed. Before long, the air was scattered with delicate bits of frosty white.

"What do you know," smiled John, looking up at the overcast sky. "It's the first snow of the season."

"Yeah," added Terry, "but it'll probably melt by tomorrow afternoon."

"Jake, let's get you inside," coaxed Abby. "I should have made you wear that coat. Your body has enough to overcome right now, without catching a cold."

Resisting help from anyone, Jake insisted on walking to the porch under his own power. Racing ahead of him, Abby unlocked the front door and swung it wide open.

"Head straight for your bedroom," she needlessly instructed Jake, walking ahead so she could turn down the blankets and make sure everything was perfectly ready for him.

Terry had been quite excited to show Jake the new fireplace and all its novelties, but he quickly realized that this was not the time. Jake was fading fast, and the sooner he went to bed, the better. Subduing his own excitement, Terry watched as John walked down the hall behind the young man, making sure that he was there to help, if called upon.

As the three men finally entered the bedroom at the end of the hall, Abby folded her arms and sighed.

"Jake," she informed him, "you can't stay in those jeans and shirt."

"But, I always sleep in day clothes," Jake weakly protested, sinking down onto the edge of his bed.

"Dad bought you some nice, long nightshirts," continued Abby, trying to sound upbeat. When Jake opened his mouth to resist, she went to his dresser and pulled out one of the white garments. "You can't bend over," she pointed out, "so this will make trips to the bathroom much easier for you. And unless you're ready for someone to help you in the bathroom, just stand in the shower when you need to clean yourself, all right?"

"If you say so," sighed Jake, for he had to admit that she was making sense. "Just let me lay down for awhile," he whispered, ready to recline that very instant. "I'm so tired, Abby."

"Oh, no you don't!" exclaimed his wife. "I want you to change into that nightshirt BEFORE those painkillers from the hospital wear off any more. Now, do you want me to help, or Dad and Uncle Terry?"

Even through his fatigue, Jake glowered at her defiantly.

continued on next page...
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