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"I want to be useful to the people I love," pleaded Charlie. "I know I can do it. It won't be easy, but I'm determined!"

"That's sound reasoning," Jerome replied, snidely.

"You think I should pursue dentistry, instead?" asked Charlie, fighting to remain calm.

"Money answers all things," retorted Jerome, in the affirmative.

"It doesn't answer love, does it? I want more out of life than just legal tender-- I want happiness!"

"You're going to find happiness as a caregiver?" mocked Jerome. "You've a lot to learn about life, Charlie."

"I realize that," replied the girl. "But, if I became a dentist at the expense of Daddy's health and well being, I can guarantee that it wouldn't make me happy! Besides, surely you're happiest when you're helping others. That's one reason why I wanted to become a dentist, in the first place! If I really wanted to help others, I'd be willing to do it whether it paid well, or not!"

"Self-sacrifice doesn't ensure happiness," replied Jerome, firmly.

"You sound like you know from experience," observed Charlie.

"I've been in the health care industry for twenty years, and the only happiness I've ever fancied myself possessing was derived from work executed in a professional manner. Happiness is a mirage, Charlie; it's all dry sand."

Oh, Jerome! What happened to the man who was going to make a difference? After the first few years of youthful zeal, you had no delusion of reforming health care, on the whole, but, in part, you did think you could change it for the better; to leave it in better condition than when you found it. Do you remember, Jerome? Alas! you set out to change the industry, but without the love of God, the industry has changed you.

Charlie, your dream of helping others has become to mean much more than the "do-gooderism" of your past. It is now a rooted belief that true Christianity helps his neighbor, and carries one another's burdens. Yes, this is what it means to "fulfil the law of Christ"!

Since Vera had to be near her husband, and Chuck was unable to remain home alone, he found himself in the Recreation Room of Mullen-Overholt. To have something to do, he brought along his family album, in the hopes of conversing with some of the others. As the album was passed from person to person, the interested residents talked about their families. Some of them were falling asleep in their wheelchairs, while others related experiences of raising their own children.

The oldest resident at Mullen-Overholt was Mrs. Goldie Cook, who at ninety-seven, could remember her childhood on the plains of Topeka, just forty-four years after it became the capitol of Kansas. She could still recall the stories her mother had passed down to her of how runaway slaves bound north on the underground railroad were hidden there in Topeka by abolitionists.

Goldie had outlived all her friends and relations, and was now waiting for "the Good Lord to gather me up to the Promised Land." She joked that she had been waiting since 1975.

Some days, her mind would slip, and she would plead to be taken back to her home in Yucca Valley, (which had long since been sold). A hug from a kind face, and a few gentle words usually served to calm her down. Today, Goldie was her normal, intelligent self.

"I didn't have any girls," Goldie was telling Chuck, "only boys. God knows Cecil and I tried for a girl, but it just wasn't meant to be.

I was fifteen when the Great War ended in 1918. I married Cecil the year after and we had Frank the year after that. George came along in '23. The year America entered World War II, George turned eighteen.

When both of my babies joined the army, I was terrified. Cecil was glowing with pride. I was so angry with him for encouraging them to join. George was killed in Normandy, but Frank came back home to us and married a nice girl.

Cecil and I had some hard times, but mostly, it was good. I thought nothing could be harder than losing George, but I didn't know how wrong I would be. I'm ninety-seven, and I've buried two sons, a husband, and a daughter-in-law. But, I know I'll see all of them again in heaven, so that comforts me."

The conversation then turned to their children's first steps, first words, and early accomplishments.

"Charlie was early at nearly every stage," recalled Chuck. "Her first word was 'umbrella.' At five, she took it upon herself to start recycling our trash.
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