I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME
(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Transformed Heart Of A Woman)
AUNTIE YONNY: THE UNEXPECTED (Part 3)
HOPING FOR THINGS TO COME
Derek was in the conference room of Graves Tower, planning his next campaign rally and writing a press release about his romantic elopement with Rachel Montgomery, when Rachel walked in and told him that she wanted to go to The Daily and get some work done, since it would be her last week working at the office before she went on maternity leave. Too wrapped up in his plans, Derek didn’t have time to discuss the matter, but, after she left, he made a phone call to someone telling them to follow her.
Since she was in her last trimester of pregnancy, at her doctors advice, Rachel stopped driving. She knew that what she told Derek wasn’t the whole truth. Yes, she wanted to go to The Daily, but, she also intended on meeting Pastor Allen at the church. She told their chauffeur that she would call when she was ready to be picked up. However, after doing a few things in her office, she called a taxi and went to her church for the meeting.
She didn’t know why she was being so secretive about the meeting. Maybe it was because of Derek’s reluctance to return to church with her, or to have anything to do with the people she formerly associated with. However, she decided that she wasn’t going to let Derek keep her from the people that she loved, or from the fulfillment she had received from their fellowship.
When she exited the taxi, she was feeling deliberately happy. She had good news for Pastor Allen as the newly married Mrs. Derek Graves and expected him to be excited and happy for her. As she entered the church, she greeted and hugged a few members who were leaving. With a ready smile and joyful anticipation, she knocked on Pastor Allen’s office door.
As the door opened wide, revealing the two men seated within, the expression on her face went from shock to fear to anger. She stood in the doorway still too stunned and angry to say anything. Then, seething with anger, she looked at Pastor Allen with great disappoint and through clenched teeth, she let loose the venom that anger produces to hurt others.
“How could you do this?! You lied to me!”
Rachel turned and started to walk away, but, Pastor Allen, grabbed her hand gently and hugged her, not letting go.
“I could because I love you, Rachel and God loves you, and because we love you, we want you to do this for yourself. Please, Rachel. You can’t keep running away from it.”
Pastor Allen kept holding her hand. Reluctantly, she entered the office and sat down. Hal kept staring at her stomach and she wanted him to stop. It made her very uncomfortable.
Pastor Allen immediately began to pray and they all kept their heads bowed in prayer. Then, he took out a folder and placed it on top of his desk. The three still hadn’t said a word to one another, not even a hello.
“All right now, we’re going to start with some things from the past that are relevant to the here and now and that will certainly have an affect on the future, from here on. I’ll give each one of you a chance to speak and I ask that you respect me, one another, and the presence of God.
Within this folder is a part of history that continues to resonate and effect the lives of everyone, which proves to us that everything that we do, think, and say affects everyone around us. Each of you is carrying on a legacy started by someone else, but, it is up to you now to decide what kind of reputation that legacy will have today and how it will effect others.
Rachel, the child you are carrying has a father and grandfather and you deserve to know their history and how it will effect your child and his future.
Hal didn’t know how or why, but the word just came blurting out of his mouth. He looked at Rachel, who put her head down to avoid eye contact.
“Yes, Hal…he…congratulations, it’s a boy.”
Hal looked at his father whose face was beaming with happiness.
“As I was saying, the child has a right to know his father and the history of his ancestors. Within this folder is proof of this ancestry, which is not only filled with brutality, cruelty, and heartbreak, but, also a story of American History, God’s Grace, Mercy, Righteousness, and Vengeance.
Now, Rachel, what we are about to tell you is shocking and will change things from this day forward. However, God knows how much we can bear. The Word of God says to hold on to God’s unchanging hand. This you will certainly need to do in order to accept this information.
Now, this is the lineage of your son, Rachel, starting from the paternal side of his family. He will be born to Rachel Montgomery and Hal (Harold) Siegfried; Hal Siegfried is the son of David Siegfried, Junior and Karina (Long) Siegfried; David Siegfried, Jr. was the son of David Siegfried, Senior and Elizabeth (Johnson) Siegfried. Now this is where we must change to the grandmother’s ancestry. Elizabeth Johnson was adopted, by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Johnson, but, her natural parents were Willard Maynard Graves, who would later become the 45th President of the United States of America, and Elizabeth Mae Howard, a domestic worker for the Graves Family. This pregnancy was a result of the brutal and merciless act of rape. Now…”
Gripping the arms of her chair, Rachel let out a chilling, blood curdling scream and began crying hysterically. For a moment the three men looked at her with horror. Hal was so frightened, he didn’t know what to do. He looked to his father and Pastor Allen, hoping they would do something and he could follow their lead. Pastor Allen arose and went to Rachel to comfort her, but, she seemed to be inconsolable. He called for his wife, who brought Rachel some water and began wiping her down with a cool cloth and calming her with motherly love.
Rachel had kept trying to tell Mrs. Fitzgerald something, but, she was too hysterical. Finally, when she calmed down, she whispered into her ear. Mrs. Fitzgerald stood, holding onto Rachel’s hand, looking at her husband rather shocked. Mustering up all the calm that she could, she heralded the news to everyone.
“She says that she’s married!”
Rachel let out a howl that turned into gut-wrenching sobs.
Jaws dropped and Hal completely lost his composure. Mrs. Fitzgerald hurriedly poured him some water and began pulling tissues out of the box to dry his tears. David Siegfried took over her position as Mrs. Fitzgerald hurried back to Rachel, who was holding and rubbing her stomach as if she was in great pain. All the while she kept repeating, “NO, NO, NO,” over and over again.
To those involved, it seemed like this misery went on for hours. However, Pastor Allen called upon God’s help and began to pray aloud for God’s mercy and guidance. Then, it was as if the Holy Spirit had convicted everyone and everybody wanted to talk and confess at once. Even Mrs. Fitzgerald began to give a testimony of her trials and tribulations in life. Pastor Allen thanked her, gave her a hug and kiss, then said he would see her later that evening. After she left, he proceeded to get things back on track.
“Alright, this is good, but, we need to take turns in speaking. Out of respect for our elders, Mr. Siegfried, you may go first.”
“Well, the first thing I want to do is to tell Rachel that I love her and none of this is her fault. And the next thing is, I wanted to announce that I’m changing my name to David Siegfried-Graves….”
“Dad?! Why would you want to do something like that?!”
“Hold on, now, Hal, let your dad speak, please.”
“Son, I am accepting who I am, so that others know who I am, even if they don’t accept me. Look, Rachel. You need to know what’s been going on and what Derek has been doing. Your life and your baby’s life is in danger. Derek is only interested in furthering his political career to have power and money. He’s willing to kill to get the money given to us by Tanya and Miriam Graves.
He doesn’t know that we’re part of the Graves Family, but, he does know that you’re carrying Hal’s baby. That should tell you something. Derek understands lineage and the line of succession and inheritance. With me and Hal dead and out of the picture, the next of kin inherits the money and that would be your and Hal’s baby. He’s probably got plans for Zenobia and her baby too. I don’t even want to think about that. Maybe he plans to kill Hal before they get married, or both of them before the baby is born. Who knows? However, by marrying Hal’s baby’s mother, all that money is his for the taking. He’d be the legal guardian over the inheritance.”
Rachel shook her head in disbelief. She didn’t want to face the fact that Derek married her to spite Hal, get back the Graves Family inheritance, and further his political career. David continued to tell her about Derek sending his attorney to the jail to bribe him, threatening to harm her and the baby if they didn’t give up the money, and then trying to kill him.
When he was finished, Hal turned to Rachel and begged her to leave Derek because she and the baby would always be hostages.
“Don’t you see, I can’t leave Derek. He will find me and probably kill my baby. Besides, where would I go. I can’t come to live with you with Zenobia being there.”
Pastor Allen looked at Hal and David, as if to say that Rachel definitely had made a point. Zenobia needed to be taken into consideration. For the moment, no one knew what to say or do. Reluctantly, Hal said that he would change his name also for the baby’s sake.
“Okay, everyone wants to change their name so the baby can identify with his family and be seen as legitimate. This is good, but, what will it change in God’s eyes? What do we need to do to make things right for the baby’s spiritual life? God is a holistic God who treats the whole person. He wants things to be right mentally, physically and spiritually. Changing your name is a sign of wanting acceptance from the world. It can also send a message of your strength and intent to the entire Graves Family. However, our intent should be to please God, first. If you are going into battle, don’t you want God on your side?”
Everyone was quiet for a while, as they meditated on Pastor Allen’s words.
Hal watched Rachel out of the corner of his eye. The first thing that he had noticed about her was her glow. Her face seemed a little rounder but her beauty was enhanced by a healthy glow. Unlike Zenobia whose pregnancy was draining the life from her, pregnancy seemed to agree with Rachel. Or could it be that by not having him in her life, Rachel was a lot happier and had less stress in her life, he thought?
He blamed himself for Zenobia’s unhappiness. He began to think that perhaps, Derek was the better choice, if Rachel was happy and healthy. Then, coming to his senses, he remembered that Rachel and their baby weren’t safe with Derek and he definitely wasn’t the right man for Rachel.
Steve and Jake weren’t taking any chances. They had come with Hal to the meeting. They were in a van nearby with guards strategically planted around the church staying out of sight. They had dropped Hal and his father off at the church, hidden remote cameras inside and outside of church and went to listen and watch the surveillance cameras in a nearby crowded parking lot.The guards had instructions on what to do if Derek or any of his men showed up.
Hal began telling his story from the day he went to interview Tanya at the hospital and met Miriam Barrett. He told her how he didn’t want to involve her in what was going on because he wanted to protect her from the Graves. He looked at Pastor Allen, then, confessed.
“I admit that I was also caught up in the prospect of career success and material wealth. But, my feelings for you have always been genuine Rachel, since the first day I met you at The Daily. Sometimes, what drove me was the idea of bettering myself to be worthy of you.”
Rachel started sobbing hysterically. Hal rushed to comfort her, kneeling in front of her holding her hands. Pastor Allen, taking out his handkerchief and wiping his eyes, was the first to speak, pleading with her.
“Rachel, honey, please, I know people expect me to be used to this but, I can never get used to seeing people hurt and in pain, especially a woman. Don’t blame yourself for what you did. We’re all responsible. That’s why God want’s to keep us from sin. Two wrongs can never make something right. We’ve got to try and do what is right from now on. What’s pleasing in God’s eyes.”
Finally, things started calming down.
“The enemy knew our plan. So, it was never that simple. He knew how we all felt and that was the give-a-way. We may not reveal to one another how we feel, but, God and the adversary always know because we are all Spiritual Beings.
When I came to your office last week you were embarrassed, weren’t you?
Rachel nodded her head and covered her face.
My paying you a visit and your guilt and shame played into your deciding to fly to Las Vegas to elope with Derek. Am I right?
Rachel nodded her head and cried even harder.
Like most unwed women carrying a child, you wanted a father for your child and to be married. No one can blame you for that. You were following your heart and believing you were making things better.
Now…ALL OF US…need to make sure our heart is in the right place…following Jesus, instead of our own desires and plans. If you don’t feel that you know Him. There’s no better time to get started. It’s never too late. Jesus will show us what is pleasing in God’s eyes.
Mr. Siegfried…David, why do you want to change your name by adding Graves? Is it to get back at the Graves family by embarrassing them and shaming them?
“Don’t answer me now. I want you to take time to search your heart and ask God’s guidance.
The younger Mr. Siegfried…Hal, you seem to care a lot about this woman, but…”
Rachel looked up with a tear-stained and saddened face. Through tearful, watery eyes, she and Hal looked at one another.
“…neither one of you could get on the same page and work things out, because of your pride. If a relationship is going to work, you must have unconditional love; not just for one another, but for everyone. Now, because you took God out of the picture, and started making your own decisions and plans, you’ve both complicated things. The only way to solve this mess is through total surrender and sacrifice.”
Pastor Allen noticed how they all looked at one another questioningly when he mentioned sacrifice.
“Let me explain…”
You see, Jacob…Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, had a similar problem. He was tricked into marrying his Uncle Laban’s elder daughter, Leah, and was told that he had to work for him for seven years to get Rachel, the other daughter, whom he truly loved and wanted to marry. Still, he did what he had to do to get Rachel because he loved her so much. He never stopped hoping for things to come. He worked for his uncle for a total of fourteen years to get Rachel. His uncle was a trickster, just like he was. Anyway, to make a long story short, things got complicated when he did get married. He married sisters and there was jealousy. Rachel’s sister, Leah, knew that Jacob’s love was for Rachel and not her. Yet, God blessed Leah anyway and gave her many children for Jacob, while Rachel remained barren for many years. Now, perhaps, there is where the comparison ends.
Hal, unless God intervenes, it’s going to take some time to right this wrong, therefore, you must make sacrifices, by surrendering your will to God. We can’t always have what we want, when we want it. Nor, can we mistreat others to get it.
You have a responsibility to Zenobia and your child with her, also. Now, we know Rachel is in a precarious position…”
“Precarious?! Her life and the baby’s life is in danger! We don’t know what Derek is going to do, but, he will definitely do something if she doesn’t go back to him!”
“Hold on now, I’m getting to that. The important thing is to make sure Rachel is in a safe and loving relationship, I mean, marriage doesn’t seem to have taken place for her and the child’s benefit. However, we must respect the bonds of marriage…”
“RESPECT THE BONDS OF MARRIAGE?!!”
“HAL! Listen to the man…I mean the pastor. Pastor Allen, go on.”
“Thank you Mr. Siegfried. Hal, I understand how you see this. However, we don’t have the right to tell Rachel what to do or force her to leave her husband; that, she must decide to do on her own.”
Hal looked at Rachel’s wedding rings, then, he looked into her eyes, hoping to see the answer he wanted.
Rachel’s head was spinning from all of the crying and the unexpected news she had received. She was having trouble thinking and trying to find the words she wanted to say to Hal. She couldn’t look at him, feeling that way that she felt, so she lowered her head from his expectant stare.
“I…I…can’t help loving you Hal…but…but, I can’t l-leave him now, not yet.”
Hal jumped up and crossed the room with clinched fists. He leaned against the wall and pounded it with his fist.
“HAL, CONTROL YOURSELF!”
“It’s alright, Mr. Siegfried. Rachel, you do understand that we’re concerned about your safety and the baby’s safety, and it is Hal’s baby, too?
Keeping a lowered head, Rachel replied in a very quiet and timid voice. “Yes, pastor, I understand.”
“RACHEL, YOU CAN’T GO BACK INTO THE ARMS OF A MAN WHO TRIED TO KILL YOUR BABY’S GRANDFATHER! AND, HE’S PLANNING TO KILL ME! HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT OUR BABY!”
“Son, don’t try to put guilt on her. Rachel…sweetheart…I hope you know how much I care about you and it’s not just because of the baby. You’re like a daughter to me. I don’t want anything to happen to you…”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Siegfried. I’ve been looking for an excuse to clear out my apartment, since I’ve been staying with Derek. I’m not going back to his…well, I guess it’s our house now. I’m going, I’m going to take some time to think about things. I’ll tell Derek that since we’re married now that I need to get rid of my apartment, so, I’m staying at my apartment until I’ve boxed up everything and moved it into storage. I…I just need time to think about what to do next.”
“Rachel, you may not be safe there, either. I know Hal and I don’t have a place for you right now, but, I’d like you to at least consider us providing you with security; someone to keep an eye on you; and someone you can call on if you need help; and you know you can always call me, or, Hal.”
“And you know I’m still your pastor, Rachel. You don’t have to go through this alone. You never did. We at the church are here for you.”
“I kn-know. It-it was me. I pushed everyone away. I knew I wasn’t living right and God wasn’t pleased.”
“God may not be pleased with us Rachel, but, He never abandons us.”
They all sat quietly for a while. Then, suddenly, the church doorbell rang and everyone jumped. Through the surveillance camera on his computer, Pastor Allen saw a tall and stocky man staring up at the camera. He turned the screen for the others to see if they could identify the man. Rachel looked at the screen in horror and gasped. Knowing what she now knew about Derek and his men, she was terrified.
“It’s one of Derek’s bodyguards! He had me followed! What am I going to do?!”
Pastor Allen looked at them reassuringly.
“Don’t worry. I’d told you that I could handle it if this happened.”
He spoke to the man over the intercom.
“Hello, this is Pastor Fitzgerald. May I help you?”
“Yeah, I’m looking for Mrs. Graves, Rachel Montgomery, she’s a perisher, a perish-ner…uhh…part of this church. She goes here doesn’t she? Is she here?”
“And who are you, sir?”
“Well, I…I work for her husband. She’s pregnant and he’s worried about her, since she didn’t come home. May I come in?”
“He’s lying, pastor. I told Derek I’d be at the Daily catching up on work tonight. Why would he come here?
Hal answered very sarcastically.
“Your husband doesn’t trust you, Rachel! But, then, why should he? You lied to him. So you must not trust him, either.”
“SON! You’re embarrassing yourself, we all know how hurt you are.”
“I’ll meet you in the vestibule, mister, uh…What did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t! Mac…you can call me Mr. Mac.”
Pastor Fitzgerald cut the bodyguard off in the hallway and told him that he and Rachel were still in conference and he was welcome to wait inside the sanctuary for Rachel. He started talking to Mr. Mac about God and asking him if he had given his life to God and believed in His Son Christ Jesus. Then, he began gathering and presenting him with various materials to read about faith and discipleship. Then, he began to question him about his life and his family. He moved closer and closer to Mr. Mac each time, encroaching upon his personal space, making him become more and more uncomfortable. He continued working on recruiting Mr. Mac as a disciple and suggested participation in the choir or as an usher. He pressured Mr. Mac like he had never pressured anyone to become part of the church. Finally, Mr. Mac had had enough.
“I don’t want to keep Mrs. Graves waiting on my account, Pastor. How about I go wait outside. I don’t mind. I like the outdoors.”
“You do? Oh, we really need someone to help our groundskeeper. He’s getting old and can’t do it all by himself. Let me go outside with you to show you the work that needs to be done. It will only take a minute.”
Pastor Allen walked outside with Mr. Mac and noticed a man he didn’t know gathering fallen dead branches and weeding. The churches gardener never worked on Sundays. He was tempted to say something to the man, when he felt the Holy Spirit move within him and he was momentarily silenced.
“Well, uh, some other time, pastor…uh…on second thought…uh.. I think I can tell Mr. Graves that his wife is fine, in good hands, and she’ll be home soon. He’s waiting to hear from me. I better go now.”
“Can’t you call him while we talk?”
“No, the boss likes us to report in person. Maybe I’ll see you later when you’re finished with Mrs. Graves.”
“That would be nice.”
“Yeah, real nice. Bye!”
The bodyguard who called himself, Mr. Mac, walked quickly to his car and sped out of sight.
Pastor Allen watched and listened as the new volunteer gardener adjusted his earpiece, talked to other security guards planted around, and then, placed the gun that he was hiding back into the holster beneath his coat.
Returning to his office and opening the door, Pastor Allen found Hal holding Rachel, ready to protect her and David Siegfried with his hand in his suit jacket ready to pull out something hidden inside, which he could only assume was a weapon. He shook his head at the lifestyle these people were forced to choose and the lifestyle to which he was now a part of.
“It’s alright everyone. We’re alone now. I got rid of Mr. Mac. He’s gone to report to your husband, Rachel.”
Hal was clearly irritated with Pastor Allen for insisting on referring to Rachel as Derek’s wife. It was a reality he was not ready to accept.
“Now, everyone have a seat and let’s finish this meeting and get Mrs. Graves…uh..Rachel somewhere safe, where she wants to be.”
Sensing the tension from Hal, Pastor Allen, realized that he was the irritant responsible for Hal’s irritation. He decided it was probably best that he dispense with references to Rachel’s marital status around Hal, for now.
“Rachel, if you ever need a place to stay, our guest room is open to you, anytime. I know my wife would say the same thing. For now, you say you want to go back to your apartment. How long do you think you can keep things from your…uh…Derek? You just got married. He won’t want you staying away too long.”
“I…I know…uh…but…OH I CAN’T THINK! I DON’T KNOW! I don’t know what I’m going to do!”
“Well, Rachel, we’re going to keep you in prayer. Will you at least accept protection as Mr. Siegfried suggested?”
“But….but…if Derek is having me watched, he’ll know that Hal is watching me too. The guards may see one another.”
“Rache…Rache, that’s what we’re counting on so that Derek doesn’t try anything. Don’t worry, our guys can handle themselves. We’re prepared now. We aren’t taking any chances of someone getting hurt or killed, if we can help it. PLEASE RACHE! LET ME DO THIS FOR YOU AND FOR OUR BABY!”
“Oh…well, okay. But, what if he asks me if I’ve seen you? Then, what do I say?”
“You’re right, Dad, it’s time to stop being bitter. Tell Derek the truth, Rache. If we’re going to do things right, let’s do it all the way. I started all of the lying. Now, I have to set the example in doing what’s right. I’m not going to lie to Zenobia, anymore. I love you Rache and I’ll always love you. And…and…I’m sorry for all of the mess, chaos and danger I’ve brought into your life…”
“But, I’m the one who got involved with Derek, Hal!. I didn’t plan to, but, it just happened.”
“Look Son, Rachel, we all can take some of the blame in this, but, like the pastor said, we’ve got to start looking to God for solutions. That’s why things happened as they did. We didn’t have enough faith to trust God and do things His way.
“Hal, call Steve or Jake and set things up for tonight. Rachel, do you mind me seeing you home tonight?”
Rachel looked at Hal, who turned his head, feeling embarrassed that he wasn’t in the position to offer to take her home. They both knew that he had to go home to Zenobia.
“Yes, Mr. Siegfried. I’d like that very much. I’ve missed you and our talks.”
David smiled as only a father would, knowing that his child loved him.
Thinking about how Rachel belonged to someone else, Hal looked at Rachel with his heart aching so badly he could barely stand it. Lovingly, he looked at her stomach, wanting to touch it and feel the baby inside. He remembered what he had asked Rachel about Auntie Tanya…
“Do you think there’s any hope for Tanya and her family?”
“Hope is eternal Hal. Where God’s Grace and Mercy allows it, only He knows. No one can predict who He sends it with. Perhaps, that’s the real reason why you’re there.”
Imagining their child, who would soon be emerging into the world, Hal knew what he had to do. Hal closed his eyes and began to hope.