Word had quickly spread through town. This time it was real, Bobby was coming home. Of course, word spreading through the town of Ranlo was never slow, nothing more than a postage stamp of the mill town with a few city buildings, shops and restaurants, news always spread fast, good or bad. The old cotton mill that was the heart had been shut down for years, causing the locals to scatter for work in the surrounding county. Frozen in time, Ranlo accepted their slow pace of life, with plenty of time on front porches to wave neighborly at friends passing by. And today the topic was their proud soldier, coming home after a 15-month tour in Iraq. Everyone had been praying, writing letters, and hoping for a safe return. Proud couldn’t begin to describe the emotion that radiated from the local product fighting for the safety of our country. Calling these fine folks conservative didn’t bother them one bit. The good Lord, family, friends, and the towns people of Ranlo was their priority, all wrapped up in the comforting blanket of Old Glory. Ever since Bobby’s send off, all 3,500 people had an American Flag hanging from their home and a yellow ribbon around the nearest tree facing the road. Each of their prayers included Bobby’s safety and family.
Linus was a number years older than Bobby, knew the family well, counting Bobby as an acquaintance more than a friend. After all, everyone in Ranlo knew everyone by name or family tree. Linus was a steady hand that accepted a number of roles. In addition to his 9-5 job, he was a volunteer fireman, deacon at the church, and city council member. He kept quite a busy schedule on top of helping his elderly mother. Naturally as the news of the homecoming spread, people looked to Linus for leadership. He was always the man they could rely on for getting things done. It was no coincidence as Linus arrived at Grits & Greens for the Tuesday lunch special, he could barely get a bite in for all the questions about what Ranlo would do for Bobby. Without proper election, Linus accepted the task and began recruiting volunteers, one of his many talents. He would once again make the town and hopefully Bobby proud.
And after a few weeks of preparation, the plan was set. Bobby was scheduled to arrive in Charlotte on a Friday afternoon at 2:49 pm. The family would greet the soldier at the airport and once off the interstate, just before town, Bobby would settle to the rear seat of the open top red convertible, escorted by the police, firetrucks and Allen Tate’s vintage hum-vee, because Allen Tate was a true American and any event celebrating America required his attendance. Linus was quite busy that day, organizing the local marching band, the cheerleaders, the grilled hotdogs, everything down to the last detail, because that’s what Linus does.
Just before 4 pm, on that sunny Friday afternoon, the police car siren sounded loudly and the townsfolk began to swell closer to Main Street. The procession started with loud cheers. The work was done and it was time to celebrate the town’s celebrity coming home. The parade would last all of a few minutes, time to pass through a total of four street corners. Linus finally quit worrying about his notes and responsibilities to enjoy the product of his labor. The red convertible approached and a smiling Bobby continued to wave at all those that had written and prayed. Suddenly the red convertible stopped. The driver pointed toward the area where Linus stood behind the crowd along the route. Bobby smiled and patted the driver before hustling from the car. The soldier was in field fatigues, pants tucked into boots, patches on the sleeve and ribbons adorning the right breast. A huge smile spread with large dimpled and pink cheeks. Linus was mesmerized by the appearance of the soldier. His last memory of the teen prior to leaving for the army five years ago was of a soft and unassuming 18 year old kid. Linus hoped and prayed for survival. But now, in the afternoon sunlight, striding confidently toward Linus’ direction was a svelte, athletic figure that stood tall and proud. Linus felt a bit weak in the knees at the sight. As the crowd parsed, Bobby leapt with both arms wrapped around Linus’ neck. “Thanks for supporting me!” was all Bobby said. They held an impactful embrace for what seemed like an hour but lasted no more than a minute. Bobby broke and returned to complete the parade. Before spinning toward the street, under the bill of the cap, a subtle wink of blue eyes offered some consummation to Linus. A tear streamed down Linus’ face. It was hard to hold back. Each week, Linus had penned a letter, offering encouragement while the soldier battled to survive the arduous tour. As their relationship grew, the notes became more personal. The two had created a more than a friendship, despite their age. And now having seen the soldiers return home, Linus’ recollection of the soldier went beyond an emotional embrace. The soldier was now home and could there be more between them? Time would tell. Linus intrigued by the subtle wink of a uniformed soldier was anxious to see.
COT: Prayers for Buckeye’s friend Joe that is battling cancer; prayers the running group doesn’t contract pneumonia running in the steady cold 37 degree rain; Extinction Run – 2/13 at Primal in Belmont at 0900 – Sign Up!
Moleskin: Today’s Q-Source is from the fourth chapter of The Four Agreements. The discussion is about Don’t Make Assumptions. We’ve all done it, assume our M, our 2.0, our family member, our friend, our boss, our co-worker – you name it – we think we know what they’ll say or what they’ll do, or how they’ll react. It would be interesting to take notes for a day and count how often it occurs. It’s built into our DNA. And from experience we all have a story (or 100) about how things didn’t match up to what we thought would happen. So how can we combat the Third Agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book? We can ask questions, probing questions until we understand the wishes of those we’re communicating with. Not everyone thinks like we do – because we’re all different. So communicating and asking questions is the key.
If you didn’t get tired of the “short story” there is a point. I took one statement Linus made during Saturday’s GasHouse workout and turned that into a twisted fictional tale. Those that posted will attest to Linus waxing on about seeing Bobby in his uniform. And we all know the part about Allen Tate is real – that’s for damn sure. And a lot of the traits I included for Linus also represent the HIM we all know as the Site Leader of GasHouse.
But conjuring up a scenario between Linus and Bobby probably led you to some assumptions. “Bobby” is an unisex name that could be male or female. You may have assumed otherwise I’m sure. Bobby was only referred to as “a soldier” or third person. You might ask is Linus married? What about the age difference – how much is it? You might ask what prompted Linus to write Bobby while serving the country? Were they a stone and blade? Who knows but these and other questions could be explored.
So this lengthy diatribe was written to further clarify the point of our Q-Source discussion this morning. Even if you were unable to attend, we can all benefit from the strategy that if you want to understand, don’t assume, ask questions.
Thanks for the chance to share.