"Well, I'll Be John Brown"

Real stories about folks who have blessed my life with the joy and fulfillment of laughter. Long may they live.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

A Southern Boy - Born In Alabama, Reared In Georgia, and Matriculated, Married & Initiated Into Manhood In Tennessee.

Monday, November 01, 2010

"Autumn Belle - Chapter 23"

It was 3:00 AM when the phone rang at the Hamilton home. "Wrong number," Autumn thought, as she turned over in bed. The phone went silent after about the third ring. One of her parents must have answered it.

In a few moments, Rhett Hamilton opened the door and slipped quietly into Autumn's room. He turned on the small lamp on the table in her sitting area. She felt her father's hand as he patted her on the back. "Sweetie, wake up," he softly whispered. She turned over and wiped her eyes and sat up in bed. Rhett Hamilton's expression was one of concern. He hugged Autumn and softly said, "That was Beau on the phone." Autumn flinched and pulled away from her father's embrace. "What?," she demanded. "It's his mother, baby, I'm afraid she's gone," he said, lowering his eyes in sadness. "Beau is at the hospital...He said not to wake you up...He just asked me to tell you whenever you woke up..."

Autumn jumped out of bed, threw on her housecoat, and ran to the bathroom. "What hospital, Daddy, where is he?," she asked as she hurriedly washed her face and applied some makeup. "He's at Crawford Long, baby," her father replied, "I don't know how long he will be there...There's no sense in you going down there tonight, Autumn, he may not even be there by the time you make the drive..." Rhett Hamilton could tell he was talking to a wall. Autumn threw on some jeans and a sweater, grabbed her keys and purse, and flew out of her room and down the stairs.

Tears ran down her face as she started the car and flew out of the driveway. A lifetime of thoughts raced through her mind as she drove. She thought about the sweet expression on Rose Jackson's face as they broke the news to her about the engagement. She cried even more as she thought about Beau, sitting at the hospital all alone. "He has nobody now but me," she whispered to herself. She thought about the wedding. Who would sit on Beau's side of the church now? Who would be, "his family?" Autumn looked at the shiny diamond on her left hand as she clutched the steering wheel. "I hope he still wants to marry me now that this has happened," she thought.

The trip to downtown was over in a flash. Autumn hoped that the valet parking normally available at Crawford Long was a twenty-four hour service. It wasn't. She had to park across the street in the near vacant visitor lot. She ran across the street without paying attention to the late night traffic, and was almost hit by an Atlanta police car. Out of breath from running, she could barely speak when she finally got to the emergency room desk. "The family of Rose Jackson," she huffed. The attendant looked over the roster of patients admitted that night, and hesitated. "Just a minute," she said, as she dialed an extension from the phone on the information desk. Autumn heard her ask if the family of Rose Jackson was still in the hospital. She hung up the phone and turned to Autumn, "I'm sorry Miss, but the family has already gone."

"I AM family," Autumn blurted, in almost a shouting tone. She burst into tears. "I've got to find her son, Beau," she said, "he is my fiance'," wiggling her ring finger in front of the attendant. "Just one moment," said the attendant, as she rose from the desk and disappeared through the large double doors leading into the emergency treatment area. In a few moments, she came back. Her countenance was not good. "Miss," she began, "Mrs. Jackson is deceased, and there is no one here...They said that her son left here about fifteen minutes ago...He probably went home."

Autumn turned and bolted out the door, running back to the Jaguar and screeching its tires as she left the parking lot. It took only about then minutes for her to reach the Jackson home. As she pulled in the driveway, the headlights of her car found him. Beau's motorcycle was parked in the small front yard, and there he was - sitting on the front steps of the house. Still in his leather jacket and jeans, he was leaned back against one of the modest columns of the front porch - looking up into the sky and cradling the motorcycle helmet in his arms. He looked like a lost little boy whose best friend had just deserted him.

Autumn ran to his side, slinging her keys on the lowest concrete step, and throwing her arms around his neck. "I am SO sorry, honey," she said, bursting into tears. Beau laid the helmet aside, and took her in his strong arms. He began to cry as well. "She really loved you," he said. "She was so happy for us," he continued, with a hollow emptiness in his voice, "she'll get to watch our wedding with Daddy now...Maybe that's how it should have been anyway."

Autumn couldn't think of anything else to say. She just knew that she loved this man with all her heart, and right now her heart was breaking for him.

They stayed out on that front porch, neither of them saying much of anything, and watched the sun finally begin to come up. "You want some coffee," Beau asked, breaking the long silence. "Sure, that sounds great," Autumn replied. They got up, stretched, hugged each other tightly, and went inside.

Rose Jackson had "chosen" her time to die. She held on for her Beau - until she was certain that he would be alright without her. Seeing him so happy with Autumn convinced her that her work was done, and she could finally let go of this world.

God is good.