This story first appeared at Daily Love.
"Oh, snap," Father Pat said. His clerical collar prohibited the use of stronger words, even though he'd heard them all many times. He pulled the black coat closer to his body and stepped off the porch into the hostile wind. Mrs. Allgood needed him.
They had known each other since the diocese assigned him to St. Francis over fifteen years ago. She chaired the committee that put together the brunch served after his first mass. He remembered her welcoming smile, her husband's strong handshake, and the bashfulness of her twin daughters.
The following week she asked him to attend the women's prayer meeting. She sat next to him, and when they held hands during the closing prayer, he felt a spark that made him uneasy. Through the years, they had many encounters, and he worried that her actions were flirtations in disguise. He smiled at the thought. It wasn't until late last year, when her husband passed on after a long illness, that she became more forward, brushing against him and gently touching his arm.
He stood in the doorway to her bedroom. She sat in a wheelchair facing a window. ALS had stolen the use of her limbs and the ability to speak. Still, her eyes glowed when she saw him. Aware of what she wanted and knowing he couldn't provide it, he sat next to her and held her hand, just as they had during that first prayer meeting.
A sound gurgled from her throat. He nodded and squeezed her hand. A deep breath escaped from her lungs, and he saw something in her eyes. In a few months, he would administer the Last Rites. For now, he quietly sang her favorite hymns and cradled her hand in both of his.