In His Steps
Jeffrey rolled down the road into the evening sunset in his Peterbilt. He’d been a trucker for twenty years and loved the open road. With country music playing in the background, his thoughts went to his mother. She died when he was sixteen and after bouncing around for a couple of years, he began driving a truck. The road was now his home.
He missed her more than he could imagine, especially since his father was absent. When Jeffrey was a young boy, Dad put on a uniform, picked up a gun and went off to fight the Vietnam War. He never came home. Whether he died a hero or abandoned his family, they would never know.
The lonely trucker wheeled into a favorite truck stop for some home cooking before finishing his run. He selected a seat at the counter amongst other truckers doing the same thing and struck up a conversation with the older fellow next to him.
Between sips of coffee and bites of greasy food, the two men traded stories. Midway through the elder man’s historical account, he looked up at his younger counterpart and stopped talking mid-sentence. Tears filled his widened eyes as he realized he’d happened upon someone very, very special. More slowly, it became apparent to Jeffrey that the stranger sitting next to him was his father and he’d followed in his steps.
Through tears, Jonathan explained to his son that he’d come back home from the war but he and his mother were no longer at their old homestead.
“Mom couldn’t make ends meet. She couldn’t pay for the house. I wanted to work but was too young. We lost the house and had to move away.” Jeffrey wiped a tear from his eye with rough hands of the strong man he’d become.
“I looked for you for so long,” the old man offered. “I asked everyone but no one knew where you went. When I knew I wouldn’t find you, I went on the road and have been out here ever since.”
They forgot about the time, their loads and the need to deliver them. They made up for lost time. Jonathan gazed at his son with pride and complete acceptance that without even knowing his son was walking in his steps. Jeffrey felt the hole in his heart seal up with every passing moment.
A chance meeting in a truck stop with two strangers chatting over a late-night meal changed the lives of two people forever. The ocean between father and son was eliminated and the joyful reunion was more than either could hope or dream. That chance meeting—or was it fate—ignited a fire and bond that only happens between a father and his boy.
Five years have passed since Jonathan and Jeffrey were reunited. Today they mostly drive together, one truck behind the other. Father and son. Owner and partner. They recently visited a grave where a wife and mother was laid to rest. After more than four decades, a husband soldier was finally able to say goodbye to his bride. He looked toward Heaven and thanked God that He’d looked after his boy who despite his absence, had grown into a fine man. He marveled that even though they’d been miles apart and separated by tragic circumstance, a son had followed in his father’s steps.