TITLE: The Long Journey Home (part II)
By R. Jamerson
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Sally collapsed in a nearby chair. A stroke, the silence seemed to scream at her but she still couldn’t get a word out. How a 39 year old woman could have a stroke, she thought. Those things just happen to old people!
Someone put an arm around her shoulders and whispered, “Don’t worry dear. Everything will be all right.”
The next few weeks were a blur. Nothing seemed real. It was as if everything was moving in slow motion. Sally stayed at the hospital with her mother, sleeping in a chair beside the bed. Mrs. Harmon would bring her food and a change of clothing. Three long, agonizing weeks passed with no change in her mother’s condition. Sally sat silently by the bed listening to the machines clicking away. The evening sun cast shadows across the still form lying beneath the sheets. She looks so helpless, thought Sally. I never noticed how pale and thin she was. I wish I had not said all those angry things to her.
Suddenly Mrs. Bryant’s eyes flickered, “Sally,
is that you?” she asked, in an unfamiliar voice.
“Yes, mother,” replied Sally, rushing to her side. “How are you feeling?”
“Not too good, I’m afraid,” she answered.
The words came very slowly and Sally had to move close to hear. Why does she sound so different, thought Sally, and why is her mouth crooked? “Is there anything I can do for you, Mother?” she asked?
“Yes there is,” she replied. “In my bedroom at home, you will find a letter. It is in the drawer of my night stand. If anything should happen to me, you are to take it and go to your father. The address is on the envelope. Ms. Harmon will get you a bus ticket and whatever you need for the trip.
“My father?” wailed Sally. “But Mother, I don’t even know my father! Besides, you are going to be home soon. Sally was crying now as she realized her mother might never come home again.
“Don’t cry, Sally. I love you very much, but I may not be able to take care of you. Your father is married and lives in Chicago. No matter what has happened in the past he is still your father.
Once again the passengers interrupted Sally’s thoughts as they made their way back up the bus steps. She brushed a tear away as she reached into her pocket for the letter. It was still unopened. She looked at the name scrawled across the face of the envelope and tried to imagine what kind of person her father might be. After all he just up and left eleven years ago and never came to visit, no letters, and no money! She was too young to remember him but Davie did, and he was very angry with him. What if he doesn’t want me, she thought. What if he hates me! I have never even visited a big city! Oh, how I wish I could wake up and find out this is all a dream. I would stay at home, I wouldn’t lie to my Mom, I might even go to that youth group meeting she was always bugging me about.
“Chicago next stop,” came the booming voice of the driver over the intercom. “All passengers disembark here.”
Suddenly Sally panicked; she realized she didn’t know what her father looked like! The bus roared to a stop. The passengers gathered their bags and made their way down the aisle. Sally stayed in her seat until everyone had left the bus. She slowly pulled her bags from the rack overhead and walked toward the door. Her heart was racing. Oh, Mom! I wish you were here, she groaned. I feel so alone. Her thin small frame appeared even more fragile, as she lugged the suitcases down the steps and into the station lobby.
There were no seats inside, and Sally had no idea where to go. Placing her bags on the floor, she sat down on the large suitcase and leaned back against the wall. Sally had never been one to pray much, but her mom had always put a lot of confidence in the process. It can’t hurt she thought, so closing her eyes she began to pray. “Dear God, you probably don’t know me very well, but I am sure you knew my Mom. Her name was Elizabeth she died a few weeks ago, but I guess you know that. She always told me that you were there waiting and listening for me to call, and that you would help me if I would ask. Well, I am asking. I don’t know what else to do. Please help me. And if you know where my brother Davy is, tell him I need him Amen.
Feeling a little calmer now, Sally settled down to wait. It seemed like hours before she saw a tall, well-dressed man heading toward her. He had a frown on his face and didn’t say a word as he approached.Sally stood up nervously. She wondered if this was her father.
He looked at her for a moment and then said, “Sally?”
Sally didn’t trust her voice to answer. She nodded and handed him the letter. The man tore it open and began to read. As she stood watching his face, many thoughts raced through her mind. Was this man her father? What would she say to him? How would he feel about her? Would she ever get over missing her brother? The man stood motionless, staring at the letter as if he had seen a ghost. Suddenly he crumpled the paper in his hand, shoved it into his pocket and turned toward her.
“Let’s go,” he snapped, reaching for her suitcase. He turned and walked quickly through the door and toward a brown station wagon parked on the street.
Sally hurried along behind him fighting back the tears. Somehow she knew her life would never be the same again. Sally would recall those days in the little white frame house many times over in the days to come. Her courage would be tried often, and she would find an unseen strength, and comfort in those memories.
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