Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 9, 2010

A Different Homecoming

   Mainz, Germany | Gutenberg Mother’s Day Marathon

Dad with Kenyan runners

   Today is Mother’s Day and our final day in Germany. Dad and Paul and I have had an amazing experience retracing Dad’s steps when he was stationed here as a young Air Force airman. We are spending our last two days at the Hilton Hotel in Mainz in a room overlooking the Rhine River. Our hotel is booked with runners from around the world who are here to run in the Gutenberg Marathon, held annually here on Mother’s Day. More than ten-thousand runners lined up his morning to run in the misting rain. Yesterday, we met Frederick Cherone from Kenya. This young man wore bib number 9 and ran in first position for most of the race. Today we reconnected with him and another one of the top finishers. These young men enjoyed sitting with Dad and looking at his digital photos of the race. It’s been great to see Dad enjoy this trip.

Johannes Gutenberg

   The Gutenberg Marathon is named after Johannes Gutenberg, the man who printed the first Bible using a movable printing press in the 1450’s. We visited the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz to see the Gutenberg Bible and a demonstration of the printing process that Gutenberg used. The process was labor-intensive to say the least, but God honored the work of men like Gutenberg who started the process of making the Bible accessible to the masses. As I looked at all of the beautiful Bibles on display, I thought about another beautiful Bible – my Mom’s Bible. After Mom passed away last May, I spent hours looking through her Bible and was blessed by what I found. Mom had noted each of my international trips and the dates of those trips next to passages of Scripture that she was praying for me. I always knew that she was praying for my safety and success, but I never knew that she was recording these things in her Bible. Mom believed that God’s promises are true and trusted Him for my welfare and that of my siblings.

Mom near El Paso

   Tomorrow morning we will drive back to Frankfurt for our nine-hour flight back to Texas. When Dad left Germany for the first time in 1954, he returned home by ship. His older brother met him when he arrived in New York harbor. They spent the night in New Jersey with John Redmond, one of Dad’s buddies from Spangdahlem. The following day Dad flew back to Texas. He had a few days off before he had to report to his base in Ardmore, Oklahoma. So, Dad borrowed his younger brother’s car and headed to Oklahoma by way of El Paso! Mom was working in El Paso at the time and she and Dad had not seen one another for almost four years. Dad went on to Oklahoma where he was honorably discharged from the Air Force in December 1954 Six months later, Dad married his beautiful fiancé on June 20, his birthday.

Paul, Dad, and Me

   Tomorrow, Dad will leave Germany for the second time. However, this homecoming will be different than his first because Mom will not be home to meet him when he arrives. She is spending her first Mother’s Day in heaven. Our hearts still ache. We all desperately miss her. I know that she would be so proud of Dad and all that he has experienced on this trip. Coming to Germany has been a sentimental journey and one that has given me a better understanding of my Mom and Dad’s love story. Being here has given context to the love letters to and from home that sustained Dad during his years in the service. This trip has also helped me to understand some of the things that shaped my Dad and, through his parenting, shaped me. I am grateful to Paul, my brother-in-law, for his partnership in making this dream come true for Dad and for us. My Mom dearly loved Paul, and so does my Dad and our family. Today, I miss Mom more than ever and am deeply thankful for the opportunity I have had to spend these days in Germany with Dad and Paul.

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