Conversations on the porch. A place where the people gather to talk and sing their troubles away. A time of huddling together in the last days of life. Songs that were familiar in distant childhoods are sung without regard to harmony or pitch. No one here would have chosen this destination and several still fight it. But most have become resigned to the knowledge that this is their last “home” before meeting their Maker.
A phone call reminds us of this reality. A father who one day doesn’t know where he is to one who wants to go back to his home. A place that contained all of his memories, hopes, and dreams. The guilt surges up into our beings. Were we wrong to bring him here and to the conversations on the porch? Just last week we sat on the porch and watched him laugh and sing the songs of his youth. But today the phone call haunts us.
Irritation of where he is and the desire to return to his home causes an eruption of anger towards us. Desperation can be heard in his voice as he pleads with us to take him away. Harsh words are spoken and then all this is heard is the click of the phone and an agonizing silence. Tears are welling up and a hopeless feeling invades us. So many unanswered questions filling our minds and no sign of resolution in sight.
But then as if the load is too much to carry, the phone rings again and a resigned voice fills the silence. A shallow apology is given that opens up dialogue between a father and a son. Words that are never spoken flow forth like water splashing through a winding creek bed. And then as if he knew that it would come to this, the father assures the son that he is okay and will now return to the conversations on the porch.