That winter, several national governments collapsed, or were so changed they were hardly the same government.
Americans were not ready, and things were chaotic. Thomas heard bits and pieces, and realized he could never go back. European governments were generally more stable, at least where there hadn’t been huge immigrant populations from what had been third world countries. Even with generational culture shifts, the Europeans themselves were fairly stable, preferring to keep their lives as orderly as conditions permitted.
Somewhere in southern Finland, the couple living in the cabin on the hill became the center of a resurgent spiritual life in what had become a rather isolated village in a very depressed economy. If anyone remembered how it was back in the spring when the woman first wandered into the village, they pretended they did not. She was a good ten kilos heavier, and didn’t really look the same, anyway. Quite the beauty now, her equally beautiful singing voice filled the chapel during their frequent gatherings, and no one seemed to tire of hearing her.
There were many stateless refugees in those days. She and her husband were simply two more. But because she had a unique talent for translating so many languages, the village drew quite a few families seeking a new life in a quiet rural home. They brought important skills. So the village was a bustling place, with all the rental space taken by permanent residents. More housing was under construction. There were new businesses, a health clinic, a new school, and the village was planning a new chapel, as Thomas was now the de facto pastor. The village had little interest in getting all the right paperwork. Because they paid taxes and tithes, officials far away said little.
It was as if someone in the village had turned on a light, and as the world became a more dark and difficult place, the beacon burned ever brighter.
Last month I received notice it was time for my annual Veteran’s health check. That means heading downtown OKC (the hospital district is just east of downtown) to the VA Hospital. I prayed it would be a warm morning, because I wanted to ride my bike.
It was 50°F. I even bought a new set of lights so I could leave early. It was a nice 16 miles going out, and I had no trouble with drivers acting crazy. Of course, along with the lights I wore my biggest, brightest reflective safety vest. And my helmet has a reflective coating, too. I suppose they saw me.
The doctor was envious of me having the chance to ride that far. He looked at my lab work and all the numbers and said I was in better shape than guys much younger. He asked if I was willing to come out and play role model to other veterans. He hates having to push pills on so many because they won’t take care of themselves. He threw my prescription sheet away.
I guess I’m doing okay. This also explains why I didn’t post as early as normal.