Artie Series- Aboard the Queen Mary

Aboard the Queen Mary  “The Bible says, The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Hank continued his narrative while the family sat quietly, “I know now that is from Psalm 9:17.  But at the time I had no idea and no intention of caring from where it came. I did slip that Bible into my breast pocket and it fit perfectly.  I thought, “Well you can tell that was not a government job, it fits too well.” During the crossing we did have daily classes and calisthenics. But there was a lot of time to do nothing but think and read if you had anything to read. There was also a group of 4 men that were holding a Bible study.  One of the four had a bottom bunk and they met at his bunk for Bible study and prayer. I could hear them from my “sandwich bunk”. That is the  middle bunk in a three bunk stack. I heard them speak about their families and churches with great affection. And even more confounding was their obvious relationship with God and the hope that bubbled to the surface of their lives. I never heard them complain and there were many things about which to complain. And when they were complained to would find a way to turn the complaint around to find something for which to be thankful. They had such an unaffected faith.  It was as if their “faith” had them. So it was in this context that I became aware there was another way to live but I also knew I did not have that kind of life.” Hank had become aware his audience was getting sleepy.  He made the decision to stop. And did so abruptly. “Well I think we better get some of that pie and let you get back to camp.” Art glanced around the room to meet the glances of the others. His mother and sisters were already headed to the kitchen.  Victor called after them, “Linda I think we will hold off on the pie tonight.” Linda stopped and  turning to her brother, “Are you sure?” Victor confirmed, “Yes we need to get some hot packs on Ronny’s neck and these bodies some rest.” Hank stuck out his hand to help Ronny stand.  Ronny’s neck was stiff already and trying to stand caused it to hurt. Ronny got to his feet wincing, as it seemed, from unseen blows. Once Ronny was on his feet Hank slipped behind him and gently began to message his shoulders and  neck. Ronny stood flinch under even the gentlest touch. Saying, “Ouch,  Ooch, Ouch, Ooch.” Victor said, “Come on “Ooch” lets go home. Hank suggested, “Ok lets cut the pie tomorrow.” The suggestion did not need any vocal vote as everyone was voting with their feet. Victor got his family headed for the door and stepped back and t gave Hank a firm hand shake and said with great sincerity, “Thank you for everything.” They all walked together to the car. Ruth and Linda embraced.  Linda called after them, “Sleep well.” As the car pulled away, Hank said, “Ok everyone to the kitchen let us get the chores done and then to bed.” As they walked together to the house Virginia took her father’s hand and pulled his arm around her waist. Hank was so contented, Linda on one side and his first-born on the other and two littler ones in tow. Hank called over his shoulder, “Come on Stumpy and Stinky.”  Phyllis responded somewhat weakly, “Oh daddy.”  Art responded by dashing ahead to the steps. Hank was still thinking about the war when they finally pillowed their heads that night. Hank, mused out loud, “We have much for which to be thankful. We are safe in our own beds, in our own home, with the opportunity to build the life we want. So many paid so much, we must live well. Thank you Lord, help me honor You and them. “  Linda with her own wartime memories, shared Hank’s gratitude and said “Amen”.

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