Season 4

Episode 419: “Flights Of Angels

Episode 419: “Flights Of Angels
Original Air Date:March 22, 1998
Written by::Sally Storch Bunkall & Sally Howell
Directed by:Peter Hunt
Produced by:

Martha Williamson
Jon Andersen
R.J. Visciglia, Jr.

Guest Cast:
Richard  Gregory Harrison 
Sally  Linda Purl 
John Henry Haley Joel Osment
George Ian Meltzer 

Richard is an artist diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a terminal sickness that has a debilitating effect on one’s motor functions.  Richard is in denial about the prognosis but his wife Sally is not, and she prays for guidance for her family.  Monica arrives to help her take care of their 3 boys; John Henry, George and Ray, while Andrew will assist Richard with his paintings.  Sally explains that Richard is working against a deadline: he must finish more paintings if he wishes to showcase them at a gallery.

John Henry, the oldest son, is aware that there is something wrong with his father, but attempts to get him to play games with him.  Richard is too weak for this, and also preoccupied with finishing his work so that he can leave his family with the revenue from his paintings.  At the same time Richard is working on “dream books” for his sons, scrapbooks that contain sketches and mementos of all the things their father holds dear.  When Richard’s legs give out, he and Sally break down and cry as the despair of the disease overtakes them.  The next day Sally, the boys, Monica and Andrew surprise Richard with an electric cart. He explains to the boys that he has a disease, but when John Henry asks if he’s going to die, Richard tells them “not for a very long time.” This upsets Sally since he wasn’t “truthful” with the boys.

Tess, posing as an artist’s manager, agrees to represent Richard even though he only has two paintings finished.  With Andrew at his side, and using a respirator to help him breathe, Richard begins work in earnest, but his goal of twelve paintings is cut short when a fire breaks out in the studio.  Andrew is able to save Richard from the fire, but all but one of the paintings is destroyed.  Richard, feeling that his life is now worth nothing, gives up hope.  But Andrew sets up a studio in the living room for Richard to finish his last painting.  Richard gets to work right away, realizing that this one painting is going to have to go a long way.  Over the next few days Richard is hard at work with the painting.  Sally explains to the boys what’s happening to their father. As much as they don’t want their father to die, they’re happy he won’t be in pain anymore.

That night Andrew reveals himself to Richard and tells him that he only has a few hours left and asks him to make a choice: finish his last painting, or finish the scrapbooks for his sons.  Richard decides to leave his sons with a piece of their father by finishing the books.  Richard works all night and finishes each book and Andrew helps him say goodbye to the boys and Sally before he passes away. The next day Monica and Tess reveal themselves to Sally and assure her that if she puts her trust in God, He will provide.  This is evident when Sally finds Richard’s lone painting to have been miraculously completed.  And it is clear that this won’t be the last painting, as John Henry takes up a brush and begins to paint on one of his father’s blank canvases. (JU)

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