My son is coming home this week from a brief overseas deployment with the Air Force. His wife and two young sons are beside themselves with joy and anticipation….and I’m right there with them. As we watch the news each day we realize there are thousands of such reunions happening across the nation as our men and women return from war.
There was another homecoming on September 17, 2004 when Brad Weaver, an American Marine, came home from the war. I don’t know Brad. I’ve never met him and wouldn’t recognize him if he were standing beside me. To be honest, I know absolutely nothing about who this man is or what his life is about. Brad had an amazing group of friends and family who were so overjoyed about his home-coming that they had posted dozens of eye-catching red, white, and blue signs along the highway from the I-75 Richwood, Kentucky exit, miles out into the country to his home. The day I saw those signs, curiosity got the best of me and I followed those signs to his home. A waiting crowd of family and friends had gathered to give him a proper and grand welcome home. Tears streaked down my face as I choked back the emotion that had urged me forward to see this place. According to the signs, Brad was a true red, white, and blue hero- he served his country well, and his home coming had been a joyful reunion day.
As I remember the joy and emotion of that day when I saw those signs, and anticipate my sons’ homecoming, I ponder another type of homecoming.
Sixteen years ago, September 21, 1995, my mother was welcomed home. It was not the type of homecoming we associate with joy from our particular viewpoint, but I’m quite sure her perspective was different. She was a loyal, honorable citizen in her duties to her family and friends, and had served her 68 years well. As she lay dying in the OwensboroDavisCountyhospital, pain was relentless on her broken body after being struck by an oncoming car. She looked one last time at the face of a citizen of this world; a nurse, and said, “I’m in a lot of pain, but it’s okay – I’m going home tonight.” Her pastor said a prayer, sealed it with an “amen”, and her spirit left. Her citizenship was instantly transferred from this world to her heavenly home. What a glad reunion there must have been when she bid her temporary tour of duty here on earth farewell, and made her journey to her eternal Home in heaven. Welcome Home, Mom.
To my son and the thousands of men and women in uniform, thank you for your service to America. And Weaver, thank you for causing me to reflect once again upon the beauty of a true welcome home celebration that we may each anticipate at the end of our journey.