Soldier Son

The woman at the airline ticket counter in Munich, Germany, just shook her head. “I'm sorry, but there's no more availability on this flight,” she said. Great, I thought. My husband, Bob, and I had enjoyed every moment of our dream vacation, two weeks in Europe, but I was ready to go home to Shreveport, Louisiana, and sleep in my own bed. Bob could see how frustrated I was. “We'll just have to try to get on the flight tomorrow,” he said. “Let's enjoy the extra day.”

Bob's right, I thought. There were more important things to be worried about—my son Joe, a First Lieutenant in the Army 82nd Airborne Division, would be returning to Ft. Bragg in North Carolina for a short R & R from his tour of duty in Baghdad, and we weren't sure we'd be able to see him in the little time he'd be stateside. Plus the time was so up in the air! Back at our hotel, I checked my e-mail to see if our daughter-in-law Monica had any news on when Joe was due to arrive. Sure enough, there was a message. “Joe's been delayed again,” it read, with one of those little frowny faces.

The next morning we made it onto our flight back to the States. Unfortunately, we had to stop in Atlanta. Our connecting flight there was delayed because of bad weather. The hours passed. I felt the frustration building. “That's it!” I finally said. “I just want to get home already!”

That's when I saw a group of soldiers coming down the ramp from one of the gates. I thought of Joe. They're coming back from a war, I reminded myself. I'm coming back from vacation. What right do I have to be frustrated? Maybe the troops were God's way of reminding me to trust in his time. Bob grabbed my arm. “Look at those soldiers coming down the ramp.”

“I see them,” I said. Bob persisted. “Do you see who's in front?” Suddenly, all those delays across all those miles made perfect sense. I rushed toward my son Joe's open arms.