A Long Trip Back….. Vol 19
My mom and dad came to Rochester this past Sunday morning to join us for church and later to see Leah in her last high school musical before she graduates this June. It was great to see them. I feel very blessed to have parents who I have always loved and respected….and even at 83, drive out to make birthdays and special events.
Leah turned 18 last month. We had a cake for her and I took her to Applebees for a birthday dinner. Then she came home and it was life as normal. In a few more months all that may change. It did for me when I was her age.
My best friend Kevin and I loved to ski so the thought of living in Colorado, working there and skiing every weekend was intoxicating. Especially when there were enough of his relatives and friends out there to make sure we had a place to sleep and an occasional hot meal. It took a little bit of the “on our own” out of the equation…but you can’t eat spaghetti-o’s every night!
Armed with just about enough money to get us there and eat for a couple of weeks …we loaded up my ’66 Buick Skylark GS and pointed her west, bound for the Rockies and lots of fluffy white powder. Our plan was to be there for a year, work a little, ski our butts off, then come back home to start college.
I didn’t give any thought to the way my parents were feeling when I pulled out of the driveway that late October morning. I didn’t notice that they hugged me a little tighter and held on a little longer than normal. I didn’t see the tears in my dad’s eyes as I drove away. Not that I didn’t care…but I was in a zone. I wasn’t leaving because things were bad at home…they weren’t. I wasn’t running away from anything. I was leaving to spread my wings. To see some of the world with a buddy and to experience life relatively un-tethered for the first time. A chance to see if we could make it. It was exciting and a little scary all at once.
The trip out was a blast. Got stuck in the biggest traffic jam of my life in Chicago…spent the night in the Popcorn capital of the world, then pushed on to Denver. I remember hearing the group Chicago playing on the radio as we crossed the state line into Colorado. And I also remember that the eastern part of Colorado was really flat…I mean really flat… and wondering if we had taken a wrong turn somewhere. And suddenly really flat became really stinky as we came up on the stockyards along the interstate 70. You could smell the place long before you could see it.
But it wasn’t too long before we could make out the Rockies in the distance. Majestic mountains cutting into the horizon. Stretching across the windshield. I was late October so there was snow already. This was going to be great!
Another couple of hours and we pulled into Denver and our temporary home where our big adventure started and stopped rather quickly.
It would be just three months later after a lot of skiing, a bad car accident, me getting hit by a car and the loneliest Christmas of my life, that we would pack up the Buick once again to go back home. Kevin had a girlfriend and would have stayed the year. But for me it was over. I was extremely homesick. For the first time in my life I literally longed for home. I wanted to see my folks…I even wanted to see my brother. I wanted to sleep in my bed and to be in familiar surroundings again.
.I remember when we crossed the NY state line in early January. We had driven straight through and we were both so tired that we were driving in 45 minute shifts. Buffalo flashed by than Rochester, Syracuse then…..home to Oneida.
I can’t describe the feeling…the knowledge that the adventure was over for now. The fun, the danger, the pain was a memory. I was home. And I was glad to be there.
I don’t know that any of my kids will have that same wanderlust that I did. I hope none of them have to experience all physical pain and trials I’ve gone through…But no matter where they go in life, whether they leave at 18 like I did or wait till much later, I hope they feel the same way coming back home. I want them to feel the welcome and love that I felt from my parents. They missed me. They were glad to have me back…even though they knew it wasn’t for long.
As much as I loved coming home…as much as my parents welcoming me was such a comfort. It was nothing compared to the homecoming we will have as Christ welcomes us into our eternal home.
But we’re not home yet. Many adventures still wait. There will be love and laughter as well as pain and suffering for many of us. Some of our sons and daughters will go off on adventures never to return. My parents, now in their 80’s will most likely find their way to heaven before me. And I will deal with that loss and miss them more than I can imagine.
I still have a lot on my plate here and now…but I already long for my heavenly home. I think about it more and more as I grow older. Every ache and pain reminds me that this body was not meant to last forever. I’m gonna trade it in one day real soon.
This life has been and continues to be a great adventure…there is still work to do…but the lights of home are waiting. Peace and joy and….rest.
That sounds real good to me.
John 14:2 – For in my house are many mansions, If it weren’t so I would -have told you. I go to prepare a place for you that where I am you will be also.