Seventy-five years ago I enrolled in high school. Climbed the stone stairs up the long, dark halls, stood in line to register, was assigned a locker with its key, and off to find it among so many.
Next to me at the next locker was a student, new like me, who said, “Hi.” I replied, “Hi.” That’s all the communication we shared for 2 ½ years. Not even that cold, windy, wet January day when the whole town stood at the railroad station, no smiles, no greetings, no waves – just the stomping of feet trying to keep warm.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, came a whistle, the rattle of a train on the tracks, and the screeching slide to a stop. Bags flew onto the shoulders of the boys and men, up the steps and gone inside. The whistle blew, the rattle of the train, and off into the distance it went – gone.
The group at the station turned and headed for home. Every one of us knew then our lives would never be the same. It never has been.
A week later came a letter. “Hi” – this is lonely country – no people, no animals, once in awhile a small white house and a huge red barn.
A week later came a letter. “Hi” – this land is beautiful. Big snow covered mountains disappear into the sky. Big tall green pine trees climb the mountain side and disappear. At night the valley is alight with colored lights, just like a Christmas tree.
A week later a letter came. “Hi” – this land is flat, not a tree, not a house, just dust and heat. And it’s to be called home for six weeks. A two man tent, no water, no electricity, just orders and food in the cafeteria – bring your own dishes.
Every week for four weeks came a letter. Then came a letter. “Hi” Don’t worry when you don’t hear from me. We’re moving. No one says when or where or why or how, just be ready.
Thirty days later a letter came. “Hi” – postmarked Anchorage, Alaska. God’s own country. It’s beautiful – quiet – empty, full of mountains and snow. Much was censored, blacked-out.
Three and a half years the letters came.
One night at midnight the telephone rang. I answered, “Hello.” “Hi, I’m coming home.”
.… It’s about time
What would you say if I said I Love You Truly.”?
Let me rephrase that. What would say if I said, “I Love You.”?
…. I’d have to think it over.
I’ll be home in 3 days. Is that enough time for you to decide on an answer?
…. We’ll have to see.
Three days later the doorbell rang. There stood the man, that boy who left on the train that cold, wet January day had become.
My dad reached out a hand. “Welcome home Son.”
“Son?” I thought.
My mother said, “You ate the cookies we sent.”
My 7 and 8 year old sister and brother peeked out from behind my folks.
And so it was 65 years of adventures, challenges, happiness, and love.
The question was answered every day for 65 years.