|Sounds of Home|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2003/08/12 15:16 《英语学习》|
When you're far away and lonely, there's nothing like the ...
Sounds of Home
The weather had been unusually warm for May in Brandon, Miss. My wife Pat and I were nursing<注1> a Sunday morning cup of coffee on our deck and watching thunderheads build rapidly into mountainous clouds on the southern horizon. There was barely any breeze, and the humidity was so thick you could almost roll it in your palms.
By the time we finished our second cup, the sky had turned black. Lightning danced across the horizon, accompanied by low, rumbling thunder. Only seconds after the first drops of rain had driven us inside, the phone rang. When Pat picked up the receiver, her face became the only bright spot in that gloomy day.
It was our son, David, an Army helicopter pilot. Three months earlier, he had earned his silver wings<注2> and begun a one-year assignment in South Korea, stationed near the demilitarized zone.
David made a valiant effort to sound cheerful, but we knew better from the tone of his voice. As a man who spent time during World War II on a minuscule<注3> South Pacific island, I recognized the symptoms of acute homesickness.
Gradually, the curative powers of conversation made us all feel better, until a booming clap of thunder shook the windows only inches from the phones Pat and I were using.
"What was that?" David asked, "It sounded like an explosion."
"Just thunder," Pat said, "It's been raining here all week."
There were several seconds of silence. "David," I asked, "are you still there?"
"I was thinking about what Mother said ?'Just thunder.' Other than the two of you, do you know what I miss most of all ?what many of the men say they miss? Thunder. We have rain, wind, snow and some violent storms, but it never thunders."
Remember, Dad, when I was a boy?" he continued. "How the two of us would stretch out on the floor and listen to the thunder? How you'd laugh to keep me from being afraid?"
."I remember," I said, trying to ignore the lump in my throat<注4>."
I wish I were there now to listen with you," he said softly.
As soon as I hung up the phone, I got my tape recorder, my large umbrella and a wooden chair. "I'm going to record our son some thunder," I told Pat.
"Bob, the neighbors will think you're crazy."
"David won't," I said, and went outside.
With lightning flickering across the sky like a fireworks display, I sat in the driving rain beneath my umbrella and recorded half an hour of the finest Mississippi thunder a lonesome man could ever want to hear. The next day I mailed the tape to David with a single line: "A special gift."
Three weeks later David called again. This time he was his old self. "Dad," he said, "you won't believe what I did last night. I invited some friends over to my quarters for a thunder party. When we heard the tape, we all reacted the same way. Instant silence, followed by a few minutes of sadness. But once we realized we were listening to the sounds of home, we felt better and enjoyed a great party, like we'd been relieved of a heavy burden. I can't tell you how much that tape meant to me," he continued. "I can make it now. Thanks, Dad! It really was a special gift."
It also became a special gift for Pat and me. For the next eight months, while David was in Korea, we found ourselves looking forward to thunderstorms. Rather than feeling depressed on gloomy days, we came to regard the storms as special. Each rumble seemed to tie us closer to a son so far from home.
And even though it thunders in Minnesota, where David is now instructing Army aviators, the gift of thunder has become a tradition for us. It lets us know that no matter where in the world we may be, we're linked together as a family.
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