Home, Sweet Home

I don’t typically speak while traveling on a plane, and definitely not before 7:30 a.m.!!  However, this morning, I made an exception.  The young man next to me, sitting in the middle seat, was so excited to be flying to Tampa.  He had a smile on his face that I will never forget.

Patrick had been flying since 6:30 a.m. Thursday – over 26 hours when I met him.  He started out in Korea, flew to Washington State, from Washington to Minneapolis, and now was on a flight from Minneapolis to Tampa.  Although I didn’t ask, I suspect he is 20 or 21.  He joined the Air Force after graduating high school, and his first tour of duty was in Korea.  Not only had this young man not seen his family in over a year, he was living in another country. 

Patrick joined the Air Force because his grandfather had served in Vietnam.  He told me he loves serving his country and has always wanted to take care of people.  No wonder he is a military police officer!  He was going home for 3 weeks and then would be driving to North Dakota for his 2nd tour of duty.  He loved it so much, he has already decided to “re-up”.

His mom, grandmother, great-grandmother and grandfather were in Tampa waiting for Patrick.  He told me his great-grandmother calls him “# 1” because he is her first grandson.  His sister is going to college in south Florida, and the whole family was driving down after he landed.  But he was totally fine with the last 3 hour flight and anticipating the 4 hour drive to Miami . . . because he was going to be home and with his family.

When we touched down in Tampa, Patrick gazed out the window and shook his head.  I could see he was fighting back the tears.  He praised God for bringing him home – FINALLY!  For some reason, as he started out of his seat and into the aisle, we hugged just for a moment.  He practically ran to the shuttle that takes passengers from the gate to the “landside terminal”.

By the time I got off the shuttle, I saw the happy, tear-filled reunion.  Mom was already taking a picture of Patrick and his great-grandmother on her smartphone.  You could see the pride in his grandfather’s eyes to finally see and hug Patrick again.   After 29 hours of flying, waiting in airports, sitting in the middle seat . . . very humbling when I think about all of my travel woes and my “crazy relatives”!

Bea thankful for your family . . . Bea thankful you have a home and it’s in the U.S. . . . and always remember to Bea Positive!

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