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Episode 13: "Mr. Garth"
My next assignment brought me to the richest elite of our society. It was a mansion of an unknown amount of riches. Mr. Garth was an inventor of diverse computer programs. He had become rich and famous. Before the success, he was a 'struggling loser' according to his friends and family. But as soon as he triumphed, they became very intimate with him. They became the long lost prodigals that now worshiped at his feet. Mr. Garth loved every minute of the ceremonial game because it revealed human weaknesses which he himself probably would have indulged in, if the shoe was on the other foot. But it wasn’t.
He wasn’t married. He had been too busy trying to venture out into the sea of trial and error to find out what worked and what didn’t. But now his hard work had paid off. He was rich with need of nothing.
Yet, something was missing. Emptiness seemed to be a constant companion. He felt lonely in crowds of people. He felt like a drop in the ocean, which wouldn’t have mattered to a brewing storm. While sleepless nights gained momentum to his emotional deterioration, Mr. Garth found alcohol to be a good friend.
He started out slow, but quickly started to spiral downward into an alcoholic pit of numb despair. The memories of being an abandoned orphan as a child haunted him. He had been poor and abused in foster homes. Going from one home to another was the only form of 'family vacation' and traveling he used to do. The thought of being successful was the only hope that was taught to him by his final foster parent. Joe Camper was this parent, and he truly loved little Jed Garth.
This single foster parent was a good man but had a heart condition that eventually cost him his life. The heart attack came at the most inconvenient time. It was Jed’s ninth birthday. Jed and Mike had been together for a year and a half. The party was set with cake and candles and children waiting on a commencement that never came. The sudden death came and Jed was once again a lonely, heartbroken soul. By now his hope was almost gone. The bitterness set in and the only thing that kept him going was the great memory of Jed’s love for him.
A sour taste of vinegar was left in Jed’s heart as he traveled through a struggling life. He went from a hard working grocery sacker to a store manager and from there college opened the opportunities of life. Success came at a hard working price but the pay-off was great.
But the void in his life was still there. The bitterness took a great toll. The consequence was loneliness and emptiness. This drove him to an abusive lifestyle with alcohol. His last binge found him on skid row where all of his money and fame was meaningless. He didn’t know how or when he got there.
This successful businessman was rich in money, yet poor in spirit. I was sent to witness the tragedy and I thought I was going to bring him in, but the plans were different as I was about to find out.
As Jed finally came to his wasted senses, he saw a woman rummaging through the garbage cans in the back of a restaurant. It was cold and she was hungry. Jed started towards her but didn’t want to scare her away. Jed started to rummage in the garbage himself and then she said, ”Look, I found a half of a burger. I’ll share it with you mister. I know a place where we can find some more, if you help me.”
Jed answered, ”Okay, just lead the way angel. Lead the way.”
So off they went into the streets of the city. Their destination brought them to a hotdog stand. The proprietor barely spoke English but he was just trying to make a living on this cold and dreary day. Jed and his newfound friend got there around lunchtime. This 25 year old girl was a brave and hungry soul and had an idea of robbing the hot dog stand. But Jed stopped her just in time. Jed had found a way to come back to the world of the living by seeing himself in a poor desperate street person. Jed ceased the opportunity to stop his own suffering by stopping someone else’s.
They would be friends until the end. Jed took Charlene as a friend and took care of her. He gave her a home, education, and eventually they gave each other to themselves. It wasn’t at all like Jed had pictured his destiny, but it didn't matter because happiness had finally knocked on his door. Many of his friends thought it was appalling that such an educated and elite individual would throw away his life on a useless marriage. Five years and three beautiful children proved to his friends that they were wrong. Love was the perfection. Jed forgave everything and everybody for the rough ride in his life.
When it was time for Jed to come home, he had become a great grandfather full of enjoyed blessings. As he lay sleeping, I touched his wrinkled brow and Jed awoke to the calling of his reward. Jed said, “I knew you would come for me angel. I’d been waiting a long time. I’m so glad. He gave me everything. I am thankful and I am ready. Lead the way angel. No more pain and worries. Everything is taken care of now. He was with me then and He is with me now. Lead the way.”
I couldn’t hold back the tears as I saw Jed walk into eternity’s blessings. Hearing the joy and laughter as he arrived was unspeakable. It was his time.
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