Carol couldn’t understand Kay’s insistence.
“Why me?” she asked. “I don’t have time. Take someone who will appreciate it more and be able to relax.”
“I’m choosing you,” Kay replied, “because you’re my best friend. Look, I’ve been given this voucher, and I really want you to come with me.”
Carol sighed. “I feel too tired to think about it. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but it seems easier not to go.”
“Exactly the reason I want to take you,” Kay said. “Look, you are wearing yourself out. You do so much for people and hardly ever take time for yourself. My boss has given me this break and it will do us both good.”
Carol looked again at the voucher and brochure. Three nights accommodation for two at a lovely hotel at the beach, all meals included. Kay would drive them and it did sound appealing. Why, she might even have time to read that waiting book.
“Okay,” she said at last, “I’ll come with you.” She glanced through her kitchen window. “But look at all those weeds out there. If I had time to take a couple of days off, I should be getting into the garden and tidying the place a bit. Since Jim’s been gone, I just don’t get these things done.”
“In other words, you’d still be working,” said Kay. “That’s why I’m going to whisk you away so you have nothing to do for a few days. It will do you good.”
Carol found herself getting excited at the prospect. She made arrangements: briefed her deputy at the food bank; completed the paperwork at her voluntary job; visited all on her visiting list from church; and let her daughter know she’d be away so she could clear her mail and check on the house.
As she took her bags out to Kay’s car Carol tried not to look at the weeds and broken paths, at the overgrown trees that Jim had once kept trim. When she got back, she really must do something about them, if she could find the time.
Once on the road, however, she began to relax. Kay was a good friend and good company and both being widows with grown children, they had much in common. They found their hotel where the shared room was spacious and comfortable. Carol unpacked her book and put it on the bedside table, along with her Bible.
Too soon it was Sunday and time to go home. Kay planned a leisurely lunch at a nice café on the way home. Carol thought that once on the road they should keep going.
“Relax,” Kay said again. “Tomorrow will come soon enough when you’ll be running after people again. Today is still a rest day and I’m going to make the trip home last as long as possible.”
Carol laughed. “Okay, you win,” she said.
It was four o’clock when they finally drove into Carol’s street.
“What a lot of cars,” said Carol. “Someone must be having a party or something.”
Kay didn’t reply but drove up to Carol’s gate. Carol’s jaw dropped.
“What?” she said. Her place was unrecognisable. Her crooked old fence had been replaced by a neat white-painted picket fence. She didn’t know where to look first, but was aware of the tidy front garden with freshly planted shrubs and flowers, and there was a crowd of people at the side of the house.
She looked at Kay. “You knew about this?” Kay nodded.
“You took me away specially?” Kay nodded again.
“Come on,” Kay said. “You have to look around and meet the wonderful people who put all this together.”
Amid cheers and tears, hugs and speeches, Carol was speechless. Her whole section had been given a makeover, and now there was a barbecue for all the workers. When she found her voice at last she was full of questions.
Later when she went to bed, exhausted and exhilarated, she thought back over the speeches. The foreman, who was a Christian, had even quoted the Bible in front of all her friends.
“Jesus said with the measure you use, it will be measured to you,” he said. “And Paul wrote that whoever sows generously will also reap generously. We all know the generous way Carol works for our community. Carol, this is our gift to you to say thank you for the huge measure of your love and service to us.”
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