Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying 2 bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.
First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe 6 years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly & replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!’
Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe 9 or 10) & while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.
While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps 1 or 1½) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes of the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face & then held her close to his chest. The little girl instantly relaxed & laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment.
After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son & declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” & proceeded to give his wife the longest kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds & then silently mouthed, “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands.
For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment, then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me.
I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?” “Twelve years,” he replied. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally turned & looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. “Two whole day!” he replied.
Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months. I know my expression betrayed me. I said ...
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