Maybe I should explain . . .
My Dad sold the Stringam Ranch in Milk River and bought another ranch in Fort Macleod in the spring of 1974.
We – those of us still living at home - were rather excited.
Alright, yes, it was hard to leave the town where we all grew up.
And where the Stringam's had been a fixture for two generations.
But we were about to meet new people.
Have new experiences.
We packed our boxes and headed out.
I won't describe the move to you.
Mainly because I wasn't there for most of it.
I was studying Journalism at college.
But I managed to show up on weekends.
Mom and Dad worked their usual magic.
And within a few weeks, the Stringam family was officially ensconced in its new digs.
It was a beautiful spot.
In the shadow of the Porcupine Hills.
Just below Head Smashed In buffalo jump.
More about that later . . .
I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with Grant.
Especially when he was living in France at the time.
Wait for it . . .
Our family are church-attending folk.
The first Sunday after moving found us standing at the door to our new chapel.
About to meet our new congregation.
It was a time of . . . hesitance?
No. I think fear more aptly describes it.
We entered and stood, uncertainly in the foyer.
Hanging on the wall directly across from the door, was a picture frame.
I walked closer.
It was actually a picture of . . . pictures.
Young men, ranged from the top to the bottom in a row.
Twelve of them.
With a country and dates listed beside each name.
The missionaries currently serving from that congregation.
I ran a practised eye down the row.
Hmm . . . pretty cute.
Also pretty cute.
Wow! Most of these guys were gorgeous!
I started at the top again.
This time, I looked a little more closely.
There! I thought to myself.
Third from the top.
That one's mine!
I sounded out his name.
I studied the information beside his picture.
He was serving a mission in Paris, France.
He had been gone six months.
That meant . . . eighteen months before he got home.
I'd be ready by then.
Time passed quickly.
And, suddenly, it was time for Grant to come home.
By this time, I knew his family quite well.
The anticipated Sunday when he was supposed to make his first appearance arrived.
“We've lost him!” his brother told me.
And they had.
And a night's stay in New York had put him in the airport in Calgary a a day behind his anticipated arrival.
A lost telegram put his family at the airport at the originally scheduled time.
They waited in vain, finally giving up and making the two hour trip back to Fort Macleod . . .
I should tell you that the return of a Mormon missionary is pretty important.
His family and friends all gather at the airport and
scream and make fools of themselves
welcome him home.
Grant got off the plane, expecting his loved ones.
Picture here the quiet chirping of a lone cricket.
Okay, it wasn't quite that deserted, but you get the point.
He made a quick phone call.
And two hours later, his excited and worried family was gathered around him.
Ah. This was a little more like it!
The next Sunday, I finally got the meet him.
Yep. He didn't have a chance.
Tomorrow. Grant's side of it . . .