Saturday, May 12, 2018

Homecoming


            
            We’d just finished running the race known as Run For Your Mama 5K, a race in honor of Mother’s Day which fell on the next day. I was talking with a man from another town, a stranger to me, an older runner near my age. He told me that he was a high school baseball coach. We talked and laughed easily, as runners at a race always do. Suddenly he turned serious, recalling another time, another place.
His face twisted as he relived the moment, telling me how he'd come home from Vietnam, how he reunited with his mom. I averted my gaze for decency. It took his entire athlete's strength to choke back the catch in his throat.
It had been a long journey. Toward the end, he hitchhiked and finally walked the last stretch, arriving at his mom's home on a cold morning just as she was sitting in the car warming it up to go to work. She didn't know he was anywhere about.
"I dropped...I just dropped... the bag...and went running. I knocked...I knocked on the window." His hand made the knocking motion.
She looked up and recognized him. He described the surprise and joy. The memory was too powerful. His throat caught, his face drew.
"I opened the door... There was the seat belt..."
But they got it finally unlatched.
The telling didn't have to be eloquent. The tears, the joy, the happiness—you could see it all in his face, the memory there.
We stood on the grass, two old men reflecting, remembering. He was every mother’s son and his mom was every son’s mother.

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