Ten Years Earlier
The doctor talks to Robin in the waiting room, asking if she has anyone to help her during the difficult time. She states “it’s just the two of us,” at which point the doctor produces a child’s drawing from her coat pocket asking about “Ferd” (Fred) who it is revealed is Owen’s best friend.
As Owen lay in the hospital, Robin gets on the phone looking for John Marx and Fred. She gets an address, and attempts to mail a letter outside the hospital.
Shane and Oliver are greeted by Hazel at work. Their wedding is in a few days and they need to interview temp help while they’re out. Norman and Rita have begun screening their candidates, the first of which mishandles a piece of mail. The mishandled piece of mail is among many and Rita explains the fate that befell the poor envelope before it landed in their custody.
At lunch, the POstables visit Rita and Norman’s potential new home with Ramon as their realtor. Joe signs off on the house for its new electrical and copper plumbing. Shane shares with Joe that her mother is coming into town and she shares her concerns. Meanwhile, Norman and Rita’s offer on the house is accepted.
In town, Rita and Shane celebrate Rita’s new home and discuss her plans for starting a family and her resolve to “trust the timing.”
Later that day, Joe drops candles off at Shane’s house, only to encounter Shane’s mother, Sharon, who has arrived a day early.
As they attempt to restore the letter to a safe state, Shane receives a phone call from Joe letting Shane know that her mother has arrived early, which sends her into a state of panic. Oliver attempts to put Shane at ease, but the moment is interrupted by news the letter has been extracted and dried and is ready to be opened.
In addition to a child’s drawing is Robin’s letter to John, which describes that Owen has Leukemia and that is asking to see Fred. At the time, it’s unclear how long the letter was in the system. Determined that, if Owen was still alive, he was “waiting on someone he loves to come back,” Oliver and the team resolve to start their investigation. When the envelope fails to yield any useful information, they turn their attention to the drawing.
Their pursuit is interrupted by Charlie, their second applicant for the temp job who is also VERY pregnant. When she starts experiencing cramps before the interview can even begin, Norman and Rita end up rushing Charlie to the hospital. Turns out she was only having braxton-hicks contractions, so they finished the interview in front of the hospital. Despite Charlie’s concern her pregnancy might disqualify her somehow, Rita and Norman offer her the temporary position.
While investigating his desk, Sharon comes across the child’s drawing. As a former first grade teacher she notes that the picture is of a little boy with a fireman who is potentially named Fred, as well as the reference to a fire “line” in the letter, which they previously read as fire “lawn.”
Satisfied with her impact, she assigns herself to planning the meal for the upcoming dinner party Shane had not had a chance to plan yet. Joe assists.
That evening, Shane, et. al. set up for the barbecue. Shane puts more pieces together regarding the identities of John and Fred, but acknowledges that trying to cross reference them with an Owen could “cut into [their] honeymoon.” Sharon tries to get to know Norman, who gives his complete endorsement of Oliver. This prompts Sharon to visit with Oliver, who is shucking corn.
In addition to acknowledging his sweet gesture of planting the yellow roses, she also comments on his decision to “wear a suit and pocket watch to a barbecue.” When Sharon asks why he has such a penchant for the past, Oliver finds himself unable to answer, and it clearly bothers him.
After dinner, Shane asks Oliver about his evident preoccupation. He admits it would be nice to avoid having any “outstanding work” when they leave on their honeymoon. Shane reaffirms her faith in finding Fred.
Norman, Shane and Oliver visit Theo at his firehouse and inquire about Fred. They discover Fred is a stuffed doll that traveled from firehouse to firehouse. The story goes, a five year old boy who always wanted to be a fireman took his favorite doll and gave it to the fireman fighting the peak to peak fire ten years prior to keep them company on the line. Fred was lost in Roosevelt National Forest during a large fire that turned out to be an arson. The area turned into a crime scene and Fred hadn’t been seen since.
The three resolve to track Fred’s custody backwards, until Oliver has an idea. The POstables exercise their postal discretion inside the evidence room of the Denver Fire Department Administration, where Oliver discovers Fred.
As they continue their investigation back at the DLO, Norman discovers some handwriting in the corner of Owen’s drawing, which he attempts to reveal with some of his revelation solution. Meanwhile, Shane confronts Oliver with the possibility that Owen might have already succumbed to his condition given the time that has passed. This suggestion strikes a chord in Oliver that causes him to become sharp with Shane, who does her best to keep her cool. Shane’s phone rings, interrupting the conversation. Alerted to an attempt by her mother to change their wedding plans, Shane leaves to address the situation. Despite Oliver’s attempt to apologize, the tension between Shane and her fiancé is tangible.
Meanwhile, Oliver visits various fire houses in hopes of determining Fred’s origins to no avail.
At the DLO, Rita informs Norman of Charlie’s plans to give the baby up for adoption.
Oliver arrives at the church for their 7pm rehearsal only to find Shane has canceled. They don’t need practice for the ceremony, they need practice for the marriage. Reasoning that if Oliver can’t share what’s going on with him now, how can she possibly expect him to do it once they’re married. Shane asks Oliver about Dumbarton Oaks.
Oliver reveals that his mother abandoned the family not once, but twice. When his mother returned the first time, she brought Oliver a bear named Dumbarton Oaks, because she “thought he needed a friend.” Reasoning that if he could hold onto the bear, he could hold onto his mother, Oliver cherished the bear. When his mother left the second time he found himself unable to throw it out, but instead took it to his church and left it on the altar. He never saw the bear after that. Shane surmises that he still has something he needs to leave at the altar, but that for now they can start by making sure Fred gets home, no matter what - or how long- it takes. Before all is said and done, the two have a good laugh over the “tabernacle of love” being constructed in the chapel.
Shane’s mom arrives looking for advice about her mother-of- the-bride dress. As Shane attempts to usher her mother out, she offers to make dinner and takes requests, to which Oliver responds “clams and red wine.” As Sharon leaves with the dinner order, Shane wonders if she said “she wanted to be just like her mother when she grows up. The thoughts turns into a lead and the POstables determine that perhaps Owen’s father was a fireman.
While Oliver takes a break to get a YooHoo, Norman confronts his dinner request. While Oliver seems settled on pointing out what both he and Norman have lost in terms of parents, Norman is quick to remind Oliver of all the women who stayed in Oliver’s life - Shane among them.
Norman’s solution reveals the fire station for which it was destined, enough for Shane to do a search. Her search uncovers that the Peak-to-Peak fire had one casualty from that fire station, and that it was likely Owen’s father, Lt. John Owen Walker, who died while saving Station Captain John Marx.
Later that day, Oliver remembers Mrs. Genzinger, his Sunday school teacher, and everything she has taught him, including “when to hang on and when to let go.”
Norman and Rita invite Charlie to lunch at the Mailbox Grille but she declines, citing the need to start looking for a permanent position. The couple ponders the difference between “trusting the timing” and “twisting the timing” - what if Charlie isn’t their miracle, but the other way around?
At Shane’s house later, Oliver encounters Joe and Sharon cutting roses from the bush he planted for her. Seeing how perplexed Oliver is by her behavior, Joe encourages Oliver to embrace Sharon because they have more in common than Oliver might think.
Sharon and Oliver proceed to have a heart-to-heart in which Sharon levels with Oliver about “getting his act together.” Sharon identifies that Oliver needs to heal, but he doesn’t have to do it alone because he is surrounded by people who love him - including her. Sharon offers to be the mother “he deserves” and the two share a hug - and a Shakespeare quote from Much Ado About Nothing.
Later that afternoon, Rita and Norman offer Charlie a full-time job at the DLO, as well as a home and a village to help her raise her little girl, to which Charlie agrees. Moments later, Charlie goes into labor.
In the evening, Shane gushes with excitement about their honeymoon to London, but that excitement is interrupted by Oliver’s troubled countenance. He begins to express his deep-seated fear that Shane will ultimately leave him because “forever is a promise not everyone can keep - especially to me.” Shane directly - and emphatically- addresses Oliver’s pain, declaring that the women who left did so not because of who Oliver was, but because they didn’t know where they were. Knowing who she is, and loving who Oliver is, Shane declares, “I will never leave.” They share a kiss - and a dance.
Later that morning, Shane, Oliver, Norman and Rita visit Owen and his mother at their home to return Fred. They aren’t alone, as members from the different fire houses from to which Fred had traveled line the walk to honor Owen as he makes his way to the first day of the clinical trial.
With Fred returned to his owner, the POstables prepare for Shane and Oliver’s wedding. Rita and Shane share a special moment. Sharon helps Shane with her dress. Oliver is greeted by Ramon, who subsequently shows Hazel to her seat. Joe and Oliver share a moment before the ceremony begins. Oliver gets hugs from Rita and Norman.
The ceremony begins with voiceovers of scripture from Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes as read by Norman and Rita. Shane and Oliver exchange extremely personal and authentic vows alongside words of scripture from the book of Ruth and, of course,they seal their vows with a kiss and are celebrated by friends and family.
P.S. If you haven't already, don't forget to check out review and music from The Vows We Have Made!