A lone traveler walked along a desolate country road. he was cold, hungry and tired. He had been traveling for days, but it seemed more like an eternity. The traveler had wanted to stop and rest several times along the journey, but was afraid that the weariness would overcome him and he wouldn't be able to continue. He trudged on, clinging to the hope that home was just around the next bend in the road, beyond the next clump of trees. The journey had taken its toll on him. In the beginning he had been a strong man, walking straight with his head held high. As the miles added up, his load became heavier. He had to abandon many of his belongings along the way, until all he had left was a canteen with barely a drink of water.
Finally, he saw a glimmering light in the distance. And the smoke from a fireplace. Home.
He mustered up all his strength and rushed forward, throwing open the front door. In the crackling light of the fire stood his mother, radiant in her youth and beauty. Her arms were outstretched to embrace him, just like when he was a boy coming home from school. His beloved grandfather sat in the rocking chair, grinning ear to ear. His grandfather had taught him how to hunt and fish in his childhood. His baby sister lay in her cradle, softly cooing. It had been a long time since he had seen her. Standing around the room were his brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, all smiling as they warmly greeted him. At last he noticed the table laden with food that was befitting a celebration. At that moment a commanding voice could be heard from the head of the table.
"Come in and rest, my son. We've been expecting you."
The traveler was home at last.
(In memory of my father-in-law, who would have been 90 years old this year.)