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Waiting for a loved-one's return

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The last house I lived in with my parents while growing up was in the suburban community of Arvada, Colorado, on the north side of Denver. The house, with picture windows to the south and to the west sat on a corner lot halfway up a steep hill. On a clear day, we could see Pikes Peak from the south window and the entire metropolitan Denver area spread out on the Plains. It didn't matter what season it was, nor the time of the day, the view was breathtaking.

At daybreak, the sun would tinge any snow on the mountainsides a pastel pink, and glint off the windows facing east. The sun set with a pallet of purples, blues and various shades of red, depending on how many clouds were situated over the foothills. At night, strings of moving lights defined the main thoroughfares through the city.

The west windows faced the houses across the street and the window in the kitchen gave a perfect view of the house on the opposite corner. As cars would travel westbound on West 68th Avenue, their reflections could be seen in the windows of that house and at night, the headlights would appear, drawing larger as the car drew nearer. This was in the late 60s and early 70s, when you could tell a car's make and model by the headlight configurations. This proved helpful if we five children were up to no good and needed extra warning time to cover our adolescent misdeeds. Nothing brought everyone to attention faster that the warning, "Here comes Mom and Dad!"

That window also served as my worry place if Mom and Dad were delayed. They both worked in the city and Mom also worked several nights each week at a local Chinese restaurant and cocktail lounge. Rather than drive home and return later to fetch Mom, Day would often stay at the restaurant through Mom's shift, tip a few in the bar and then bring them home. Mom never drove and relied on Dad to be her chauffer.

I was once a great worrier. I became a great worrier the same way you obtain greatness in anything. I practiced.

I would imagine the most horrific scenarios happening to those I loved, and then, rather than collapsing in premature grief, I would spend my energy trying to figure out how to handle it. Many nights Mom and Dad would be later than I though they ought to be, and I would imagine a fiery car crash and the Arvada police coming to the door with the heartbreaking news of tragedy; come to call and set awhile.

So, as I carefully watched the window for the telltale lights of Dad's 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, I planned my response. What would I do first? Who should I call first? How would the family be able to stay together without Mom and Dad?

And so I would plan, finding comfort in my ability to come up with a practical response to each of these questions as my stream of consciousness took me from situation to the next. Each time I sat at that window, worrying, I would repeat each step, and each time, I was always the hero, the strong one, the one with the answers.

Of course, eventually I would realize how far beyond my abilities these various tragedies really were and about the time I had worked myself into tears, the long-awaited headlights would appear and I would thank God that all of my future fears were for naught. By the time Dad parked the car in the garage and my parents made their way into the house, I would be completely recovered from my jaunt into heroic histrionics and they never had a clue how I spent those long hours of watching, waiting and worrying.

I'm considerably older now, somewhat wiser, and of course, the house in Arvada is no longer home and I can no longer see faraway headlights appear in the window glass, bringing an end to my journey into future fears.

Still, I am on watch for someone, every day. Not in a reflection in the window, not in the glare of approaching headlights, but rather in the eastern sky. I'm watching for someone to appear on a snow white horse. I watch for the forever King, come to take home those who love him.

There were a lot of false alarms at that window so long ago, headlights that fooled me into thinking Mom and Dad were home, only to see the car continue westbound, not making the required left turn onto Estes and into our driveway.

The terrorist attack on Sept. 11, brought speculation about the Second Coming of Christ back to the forefront, with the cries "He's over here or over there!" resounding. I do not pretend to be a student of prophecy. I have neither the time nor the mental capabilities necessary to delve into that realm. For me, it is enough to know the promise is there and to know that God keeps his promises. And so, I watch.

It is enough to know that no matter where you stand today, on that day ...

"It is written, 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee shall bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" Romans 14:11

I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him together.


Originally published Oct. 17, 2001 in the McCook Daily Gazette

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