Not long after that time spent with Lemon, our eight year old grandson, Luke, in one of my afternoon pick up from the bus encounters, asked me, “Pop Pop, how many countries have you been in?” He also told me that one day he was going to live in Japan. That is a long way from his mailbox. He then said, “Tell me about some of the places you and Mimi have been.” I told him how lucky we were to have had the opportunity to travel to distant lands, I said…
I can remember standing in the Coliseum in Rome and thinking this is a lot bigger than Butler Field House. I stood and listened as the guide told stories of the people who lost their lives on the floor of that arena.
I can remember sitting in the “town square,” no that is not what they called it, in Florence, Italy, and thinking what am I doing here?
I have been in the Alps of Switzerland and Germany at Hitler’s hideaway and looked at the initials American soldiers had carved in his desk.
I have watched the changing of the guard in London and heard Big Ben ring.
I walked the beaches at Normandy and sat in the bunkers in the mountains of Germany where the Battle of the Bulge took place.
I remember standing on the deck of the ship looking down at the narrow passages as we sailed through the Panama Canal and later in the dense jungle rainforest of Coast Rica.
I remember watching huge ice caps break while sailing in the waters in Alaska.
I remember standing on a rock in Greece where they claim the biblical character Peter or Paul might have stood and walking the Biblical ruins of cities in Greece.
I remember a dinner cruise on the Nile River in Egypt one night and thinking back to my first two Sunday school teachers, Goldie (MacDonald) and Grace (Hoggart), and wondering if baby Moses was still among the bull rushes.
I remember seeing the ancient pyramids. I remember walking in the market places in Cairo, Egypt, and thinking how these are the most miserable people I have ever seen. They don’t even like each other.
I remember my first time, and then later times, hitting a golf ball from the first tee at St Andrews, Scotland, and thinking, “This is where this game first began, and I’m here.”
I remember a fall evening after a great day of golf in Ireland; and then my wife and I, along with good friends, eating a wonderful dinner at a BB overlooking the ocean. It truly was something out of a book or movie.
I remember standing in the showers and seeing the ovens in Dachau, Germany and thinking how could one man be so evil to want to do these things to other human beings?
I told Luke that his Mimi went to Russia to work and live in a street mission for kids.
“Luke there is more to tell you, but we’ll have to talk more the next time, okay?”
So, how many countries has Luke’s grandfather been in? It certainly is not ninety-two like Meadowlark, but it’s far more than I ever imagined from my small beginnings in Pimento, Indiana.
I feel very fortunate to have been a lot further than my mailbox. I hope someday my grandchildren can travel to foreign lands too.
Yes, Luke, I hope you do get to go to Japan.
February 7, 2014