Airport Nostalgia: A Thanksgiving Story

Rather than a top 10 Thursday, I’m doing a special Thanksgiving blog.

Last Tuesday I was at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. It is only about 15 minutes from my house, and a friend from church was driving me there. I made the comment that I had never been in the airport before. Suddenly it dawned on me I had been in the airport. Twenty years ago, I flew into SLLIA from Atlanta, late at night, to be met by others just like me–recruits headed to Fort Leonard Wood for Basic Combat Training.

This memory sent me into a whirlwind of other memories as I recalled what had happened in my life in the last 20 years and how St. Louis Lambert International Airport played a role in major moments. As I sat there waiting for my flight to Minneapolis to join my family for Thanksgiving, I came to see how much I had taken for granted and how much I really am thankful for.

In June 1998 my dad died which sent me in a completely different direction for life than I expected. His major heart attack in April and death in June, made me change from going into the army full-time to going into the National Guard so I could be close to my mom. As I said, St. Louis Lambert International Airport played a role in that, but when I got out of basic my mom and I began a bookstore in our hometown. It ended up failing, but there was one fateful night, really by God’s providence, when I was in a Christian chat room on the Internet and a girl by the screen-name of kitykat asked me a question. “Who’s your favorite patriarch?” My screen-name was Pentateuch and she must’ve thought I knew more than I did. I asked about what a patriarch was and she explained. That was December of ’98. In January, Katie’s dad invited me, a Georgia boy, to come up to Wisconsin and go snowmobiling. In February I had a ticket to Minneapolis (2 1/2 hours west, and nearest airport to, the little town in which she lived). Clearly I called his bluff. Katie and I met for the first time in person on February 4, 1999. By August we were engaged. In June 2000 we were married. By the time we were married, we had seen each other – face-to-face – less than four weeks.

What a wedding day! The night before, most of my family was not there for rehearsal. I wasn’t sure why it until a call came in to the church. Most of my family had been diverted from Minneapolis to St. Louis Lambert International Airport due to weather. It was highly unlikely that the airport would be able to get them a flight out due to the size of the storm. I was so distraught. At 7 AM the next morning, Katie’s dog Cuddles began barking very loudly. As I laid there annoyed at the barking and worried about my family, I heard my mom’s voice. They were there! They decided to rent a car and drive all night from St. Louis to Greenwood, WI (about a 9 hour drive) to get to the wedding. Praise the Lord!

Of course 2001 had the horrors in 9/11. The world was forever changed. A little over a year later, we had Treye! What a joy! Vernon E. Hughes III was born November 30, 2002. Two years later, Kassandra Mae, then two years later Wesley Haddon, and two years later Gabriella Mercy. About two years later Coleena Grace was finally adopted.

So today, I want to give thanks for so many of the wonderful events and people in my life. It’s often the little things that mean so much, the micro-moments that are near and dear. Yet in the busyness of life, we forget about those moments until sitting alone with time on our hands like being in an airport allows the memories and the gratitude to flow. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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