Forever in Your Debt

January 15, 2009
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Forever in Your Debt

Travis Randall was never the boy seen with the finest clothes or the newest toys—in fact, he was hardly seen at all. Insignificant and unpromising were the words used by most to describe the child of only eleven years.

Travis knew what others thought; he could see it through their fake smiles and hear it through their loud whispers. Yes, he was insignificant and unpromising—perhaps to those incapable of looking beneath the surface.

Two months earlier

It was the same conversation they had nearly every day. Travis was hurt, she wouldn’t listen, and, perhaps even more distressing, she didn’t care. This was how every week began and Travis had always known this was a pattern that was going to stick.
“Travis, get off the floor and stop acting like such a baby—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“Mom I’m hurt, I can barely move. The kids at school won’t stop…”
“Travis! I don’t want to hear about what the kids at school do—you’ll heal! Now pass me my drink.”
Typical—it was the same mom he came home to every day. Alcohol was all that consumed her.
“I love you mom,” Travis said in a whisper, with a hope that she might one day love him too.

She gave him one last look before sending him outside. The glance was one full of pity—and pain. She knew that she was hurting him, but the alcohol was her first priority—she would crash without it.

Travis moved slowly out the door and into the rain with one final glance at his mother. He would never return home and that he knew for certain. Streaks of pain, hurt, and loneliness ran down his face—streaks of hopelessness.

His heart led him where his feet didn’t want to go; down the same dirt road he had walked a thousand times and onto the soft green grass where he always ended up. He didn’t want to be here, he didn’t want connections to his “old” life, but he knew it was inevitable. And there it laid—the closest thing he had to a father. Scott Kenneth Randall was marked in the white wood cross that had seen too many years—that had been beaten upon by unceasing storms too many times. And the person that would always listen lied beneath it—his grand-father.

Although Travis could not remember his grand-father he knew he was a great man, for how else would he have gotten a Purple Heart and a soldier’s burial? Travis could talk to him anytime with no fear of being rejected—he loved his grandpa and his grandpa loved him, he could feel it. With years of experience to guide him Travis threw his arms around the white cross in exactly the right place and held on for dear life itself, as if hoping this would bring his grandpa back—but it would not. Travis would never hear the deep voice or feel the rough arms of the one person who truly understood him. However, he could see him. On the back of the white cross the words “A life lived with hope is a life lived with honor,’ were engraved so deep they could never fade—and this was the only picture the small boy would ever need of his grand-father. As the small boy wept he traced the saying over and over with his small hands, and with a sudden jolt he came to understand what his grand-father had wanted him to see! Yes, it had been there all along and perhaps it was all he needed. In that moment a realization came to him of what his Grand-father had not wanted him to see but to feel.

Travis never did leave home—in fact he went to school until graduation and then disappeared. He never was the boy seen with the finest clothes or the newest toys, but after what he told people had been a “final meeting” with his grand-father, he changed.

Years later a mysterious stranger was seen walking down the same dirt road that had been traveled a thousand times, in a new suit and leather shoes. The only words he spoke came when kneeling by a white cross… “I’m forever in your debt—forever in your debt.”

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