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Sunday, 2 November 2014

The DragonWagon's Mum - Part 3

Day 1 - 5

These are his shoes...

Blow-out!  We got a voice mail from Christian on day 5 saying he’d had a “problem” with his four tires but that he wasn’t going to be at the number he was calling from.  There was no mention of where he was nor what his plan was.

“But he’s fine!  He’s alive!” Those are the first thoughts that rush to my mind.  “He’s alive.”


When Christian was out in Iraq with the Army in ’05, we would go weeks and months without hearing from him, and while it was worrying, of course, somehow we always knew “no news was good news.”  The Army had multiple ways of contacting us if needed. 

This adventure, however, is totally different for me. It’s requiring a faith of a completely different magnitude, because (God forbid,) if something happens to him, there is no grapevine that can get us a message since he cancelled his phone.  Possible scenarios have flashed intermittently through my mind, until I can bring the devilish thoughts under control again.  After all, he’s a man!  My father told me so, without mincing his words, back in ’04 when Christian was called up to serve. I refuse to contemplate any more horrific scenarios.  I have turned over my son into God’s hands. 

So the problem with writing this blog today, is that I should have written it three days ago.  Before I’d heard his message.  Because I am now writing from a place of ease and comfort.

You can read Christian's own account here as I won’t go into any of those details, because, of course, that’s his story.  I’m just going to tell you what happens to me.  Because that’s my story.


Before the phone call, before my moment of ease and comfort, was Day 1.  Throughout the scorching afternoon, (see The DragonWagon’s Mum Part 2) I couldn’t help pinning yellow tacks on the map in my head. How far? Blisters? Any other angels?  At my event, we stood at long tables handing out water and hot dogs to thousands of people from four to seven pm, with no shade and staring directly west.  West into the sun.  West in the direction Christian was headed. 

So by the time I flopped into my car, burned to a crisp, my mind was racing, you know it was. Home? Or west? Home or west? I stopped at the traffic light at the parking lot exit, my mind in a screaming debate.  A left turn would take me home and a right turn would lead me to 192.

It had only been four hours since I’d seen him.  But there was something about that look in his eyes, something about that walk down the road from our house, something about something … that I wasn’t entirely sure about. A mother-thing. I needed to know, so when the light turned green, I jumped out of the left-turn lane and turned right.

         I didn’t spot him for the longest time.  He’d walked much farther than I’d expected, or maybe it was that second-to-second agony of looking and fearing I’d missed him.  How far would I drive before I turned back and started again?  Would I then get out and beat the bushes to try and find his campsite?  I hoped I wouldn’t stoop so low, but I don’t know…

When I caught sight of him, my heart wobbled – there he was and there he was, a lone figure in the wilderness of an dying autumn evening… I slowed to a crawl and battled my colliding instincts.  He hadn’t seen me creep up from behind because he was on the opposite side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.

        I wished I'd taken a better movie, but I guess I wasn't focused on the technicalities.  By the time he was level with the only tree for miles, the camera wasn't picking him up. I could stop right there and let him walk on, or I could intercept him.   It wasn’t that I didn’t think he could make it, quite the contrary!  He’s an amazing man who’s accomplished some extraordinary things, so clearly this was more about me, right?
I decided to intercept him.  Give him a last Hoorah.  I think I needed to make sure that the degree of sadness I’d seen in the back of his eyes as he’d left the house and later the event, had passed.  I needed to be convinced that he was convinced.

We said hello and I touched his arm, it was clammy.  “You’re freezing,” I gasped, pointing out the obvious.
“Nah, I’m warm,” he smiled.
“You looked so lonely out here.”
“Not lonely, Mum.  Alone maybe, but not lonely.”
At that moment I looked deep into his eyes and I knew.  He’d done it.  He was focused and contented now.  My heart sighed with relief, the adventure was really beginning for him and for me.
“When are you stopping for the night?”
“Not sure.  I wanted to make it to the stream, but I don’t know how much further I’ve got left.  I’m sensing there’s water up ahead,” he jutted west with his chin.
The sun had slipped behind the horizon and I didn’t want to keep him any longer.  Yes, my phone app showed him he was only a short distance from the stream.  I had to let him go.

Do our kids get bored of us telling them how proud we are of them?  Is there a limit to how many times we tell them we love them before they choke on the repetitiveness of it?  I don’t know.  I wasn't ready to find out just then.
“I love you, Wister-man, I’m so proud of what you’re doing.”
“Thanks. I love you too, Mum.”
“Off you go then,” I beam at him and we wave as he strides off.

Yeah, he’s going to be OK.


  1. Aww I love being able to follow your thoughts too! I feel like I understand being a puzzle piece without a puzzle so well but I am also a mom and I love to see that the thoughts never change regardless of child's age!!! Thank you for sharing!

  2. So cool to see it from both sides. :) and glad you are checking up on him for us. ;)


Unless otherwise noted, all articles are written by Cath Rathbone. (Copyright Catherine (Cath) Rathbone and Noony Brown)