Monday, October 10, 2011

A Place in the Heart

"Hi, Pam. This is Michael."

Michael. It has been probably two years since I last heard his voice. He in Berlin. Me in Oregon. The last time I saw him was around 1988. Hearing his voice again was a nice surprise.

Michael came to stay with us when I was just a kid. A strong-willed, hard-headed, teenage, exchange student stayed with the Loxley family for a time. It was post-war. American families were still trying to forgive. A German boy was trying to be a proud man. It wasn't a good mix. I was just a kid.

There is something to be said for being a little brat. No one pays too much attention to you. You are too young to have prejudices. And, to top it off, life is an adventure every day from dawn until dusk. I loved Michael. I don't think he paid too much attention to me. I probably followed him around fascinated with his accent. One day when playing in the barn, I stepped on a nail stuck into a board. Michael ran from the house, picked me up and carried me into the house. That was the beginning of a friendship with my 'big' brother.

Michael visited the farm again when I was a teenager. He was more interested in his 'little sister' wanting to meet her friends and to learn about her life as a modern teen. Several years ago he came to visit us here in Oregon. I spent a couple of days with Michael showing him the beautiful sights in Oregon and learning now about this man I'd known for decades.

"I have come to look at things differently," he said over the phone. Age and time have mellowed the boy now man. He talked to me as a brother would a younger sister. His regrets of not appreciating what he had during those times on the farm and of the people are in his mind. Age is a mighty learning tool.

"I will call more often. You have a place in my heart," he said.

"I love you, too," I replied.

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