Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Coming Home

In 1973, at the age of nineteen, Husby (to be) departed for France to serve a mission for our church.
It was something he had always wanted to do.
And he had been preparing for it his whole life.
For two years, he wore out his shoes, walking the streets of Paris, meeting people.
Serving.
Growing to love both them and their country.
And then, in an instant, it was over.
His time was done and he was headed home.
His flight was booked.
Letters confirming dates and times were sent to his family, who would be meeting his plane at the nearest international airport two hours from the family’s home town.
All was ready.
He arrived, bag and baggage, at the airport in Paris.
Only to discover that the flight he was booked on . . . didn’t exist.
Oh.
Umm . . .
Frantically, he spoke to the people behind the counter.
No problem.
A new flight was suggested.
A flight that would have an overnight stop in one of the great cities in the US.
And then land in Calgary sometime the next day.
It was his best option.
He booked it.
Now, how to let his family know?
There was no time for a letter.
Overseas calls were ‘iffy’.
A flash of brilliance.
He would send a telegram!
He headed for the telegraph office.
Then, family duly notified, he climbed aboard the plane and relaxed.
Forty-eight hours later, heart pounding with excitement, he waited on the Calgary tarmac until the rest of the passengers had deplaned.
Then, closing the zipper on his bag, he stood and made his way out of the plane.
I should mention, here, that when missionaries come home families tend to get a little over-excited. After all, it’s been two years since they last saw each other.
Definitely justifiable.
It’s not unheard-of for groups of fifty or sixty people to crowd into the airport waiting room.
With banners and brass bands and dancing bears and acrobats and fireworks.
Okay, well, maybe not the fireworks.
Back to my story . . .
Husby was expecting, well, not a brass band, but a bit of enthusiasm.
Some smiles, some laughter.
A few warm hugs.
What he got was an empty waiting room.
Empty.
He stood there.
And blinked.
His warm welcome was a complete frost.
No one was there to greet him . . .
One phone call alerted his family.
And two hours later, they arrived.
And he did get his warm, enthusiastic welcome.
When the excitement had slowed to a gentle boil, they were able to compare notes.
The family had been at the airport the day before as per their original agreement.
They had waited.
And waited.
And finally given up in tears and despair and headed home.
But what had happened?
For the first time – before or after – the telegraph office in Lethbridge had ‘broken down’.
All telegrams had been rerouted to another office.
And Husby’s had ended up somewhere between the two.
Lost in the ethereal world of the wires.
His great once-in-a-lifetime entrance.
Spoiled by the hand of fate.
And a single broken wire.
Sigh.

Each week, Delores of The Feathered Nest issues a challenge for those of us brave (or crazy) enough to participate. The challenge is six little words. Use them or lose them. I've been behind a bit, so for the next few days, I'm playing catch-up.
It's too much fun to miss . . .
Last week's words: instanttelegramflashbrilliantzipper and frost

16 comments:

  1. What a great story....."for the want of a wire".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Makes me thing of the poem, "For want of a nail" . . .

      Delete
  2. Ok... being on the mom end of that... terrible... that's all I can say! But it sure makes for a good story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't happen now in our day of communication! Thank goodness!

      Delete
  3. Oh, the power of communication. And miscommunication,

    ReplyDelete
  4. And to think that thirty years later, all that would be needed would be a simple text message. Or email. Or cell phone call. How things have changed!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was one of those who deplaned only to find the airport empty. I had to call a taxi to take me home. VERY depressing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, so sad, Kelly! I hope your family made it up to you later!? Sorry to dredge up sad memories! But thank you for visiting! :)

      Delete
  6. Events like that likely inspired the movie: The RM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fiction so often has its roots somewhere in reality!

      Delete
  7. Amazing what you can do with 6 words. This was fun but also a bit sad. I can't imagine how he must have felt when he discovered no one was there.
    Blessings and hugs for this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Complete and total letdown, for sure! But his family made up for it! A little late is all! :)

      Delete
  8. How awful to arrive to an empty waiting room, after two years away. You made good use of the words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely something he never forgot! :)

      Delete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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