Image by -Mandie- via FlickrIt was cold in the cab. Too much heat would make him drowsy. Better to be a little cold and more alert. There was ice in the low spots and on the curves. Places where the afternoon sun had not been able to reach were slick and treacherous. Occasionally the trailer would swerve and slip on the ice patches threatening disaster but the need to get home was all-consuming, so he pressed on.
He had been gone six months and was driving the last five miles. She had moved while he was gone. For the first time she could stay home with the children rather then work two jobs just to make ends meet. Trucking was lonely and hard work. The hours were long and irregular but the pay was good and the work was steady.
The children, two boys and a girl missed their dad but not the neighborhood they had left. He talked to them everyday on the phone and was bringing a new computer among other presents so they could email each other. The sleeper was stuffed with presents and a young Cocker Spaniel rode shotgun. The puppy would be hard to part with but he looked forward to the children’s reaction to the long awaited pet.
During the last six months he had wanted to quit almost everyday. The driving was ok and the scenery was nice but he missed his family. It was a constant struggle to suppress his need for the companionship of his wife and the joy of being with his children. He consoled himself with the thought that real love is what you do for others and not what you want or need from them. He had a family to support and their safety, comfort and lifestyle were his responsibility.
He was starting to worry about finding the place. It was on a lonely rural route, a high centered country road with deep ditches on both sides. She said the house was a quarter mile off the road in the trees and hard to see. The only landmark was an old 1946 Ford pickup sitting in the field next to the driveway. In the dark, he was afraid he would be past it before he really saw it. There was no telling how easy it might be to back up or turn around this eighty-foot rig. She said she would put a sign up that he could not miss as long as he was looking. Slowing down he started peering intently into the dark in front of his lights anxious for proof that this trip was over and he was home.
Coming around a curve he first saw a huge red stain on the snow, then a car in the ditch with a deer lying across the hood. One headlight pointed brokenly high into the trees and the taillights gave warning to all who approached from the rear. Down shifting, he braked to a stop and turned on his flashers. Setting his brakes and climbing down from the cab he ran back to the vehicle, to see if anyone needed help. Sitting in the driver’s seat was an older man looking a little dazed and confused. He had a trickle of blood running from his brow that he wiped with a cloth as he said “it came jumping out of the woods right into my way!”
Are you OK? Can you get out and stand; he asked the man. Saying yes to both, the fellow got out of the vehicle and leaned on the side of his car. I was going to my sister’s house for the holidays; it’s just up the road a few miles. Do you think you could give me a lift? Of course, he replied. I am on my way home and if we pass my place first, we can stop to change vehicles and let you freshen up a bit.
As he helped the old fellow up into the cab, he explained that he had been away when his family moved out here and he was not sure he would recognize his new home. He said, “The wife said there is an old truck in the field next to the drive and that she would put a sign out.” Keep an eye out on your side and I’ll watch out over here, if you don’t mind. No, no not at all what kind of truck, he asked. She said an old 46 Ford but in the dark, any old truck will be worth checking out. So, what’s your story? That is if you don’t mind me asking, he inquired of the passenger.
Well my sister lives out here and her husband just left her alone with three children. I am not all that well off myself. That car is the only thing of value that I have besides my home. Anyhow, I was hoping she and the children would come home with me for the holidays. I thought maybe we could get a small tree out here somewhere and have a family Christmas at my place. I cannot afford presents and a big fancy meal but I love her and my nephews and niece very much and wanted to try to help the best I could. I guess with my car in the ditch and needing repair I’ll be spending Christmas with them instead.
Well I am sure that your just being there will cheer them up and make this Christmas special he said. Yes, I’m sure you’re right; I just hope the children aren’t too disappointed. Sometimes when you’re young, it’s a little difficult to see past Santa Clause, reindeer and presents. Driving slowly on in silence the driver thought about the man's niece and nephews and what a bleak Christmas they were going to have. It’s sad, he thought, but what are you going to do? You can’t change the world he thought, you just have to take care of your own and hope for the best, for the rest. Suddenly up ahead he saw a multi colored glow on the snow peaking out from the next curve. Slowing even more he down shifted around the curve.
Up ahead on the right was the sign he had been looking for! It was the 46 Ford decorated with Christmas lights shining brightly in the dark. The truck was a beautiful beacon of love and a promise of the peace, joy and security he would find in his home. Laughing aloud he swung left and prepared to turn into the drive as heard his passenger gasp. Looking over he saw the look of amazement on his face and some tears trickling down his cheeks.
He knew then that in a little while, after dropping the trailer, feeding his passenger and talking to his wife that most of these toys would still be in the tractor when he took the old fellow to his sisters. There would be extra food and he would take the family along too. As his heart swelled with love and joy, he knew that this was going to be the best Christmas ever.