An Afternoon With Allan

Allan Folsom paid me a visit today. He has been stationed at Andrews Air Force Base for the last few days on an assignment, and we have conversed a couple times over the phone, but today we were actually able to visit with each other for a good while.

It started a few days prior, as Allan and I were attempting to work out the various entanglements of our respective schedules. It seemed the weekdays, for both he and I, were not as negotiable as weekends – and yet weekends, for me, can often become as harried as the workweek. Ultimately, a LORD`s Day rendezvous seemed most accommodating to our strictures.

We met at the church and Allan joined the morning “College & Career” study, though few attended due to an event that had been planned for that particular morning. I was disappointed, as I had hoped to introduce Allan to Jake – a fine young Midshipman with whom I have grown quite close.

Jake will be graduating soon, his commission being to the Marine Corps as a First Lieutenant, upon which he will be deployed to the Mesopotamian front. Jake is from a small town in Arkansas and possesses that rare gift of combining simple homespun wisdom and a deep theoretical acumen. He is going to make an excellent leader of men and some day he will run for President; I hope to have the chance to vote for him. But I digress…

I enjoyed Allan participating in the discussion during our study. Though we tended more towards the broader points of the day`s teaching (as our group was rather small), I think there were several fascinating threads of dialogue during the course of the morning. After which, we made our way towards the Sanctuary for the worship service. As Gaelynn was singing with the Children`s Choir and Candace was already in the Chancel with the Choir, Allan joined Israel and I in the pews.

Following the service, Allan graciously offered to buy us Lunch at a local eatery of our choosing. Desirous to give Allan as much a taste of Annapolis as possible, and to not singe the generosity of his offer, we suggested a beloved local burger joint… whereupon Allan ordered a hot dog.

It was at this point that we were first able to really engage in direct conversation, all of us: Allan, Candace and myself. Discussion ranged from serious matters of life and politics to the giddy childish questions of my son Israel who, knowing “Mr. Allen” to be a “helicopter soldier” (the very concept of which he found captivating), asked why Allan drove a rental car instead of his helicopter.

We all spoke at length, enjoying a conversation of surprising intimacy considering our having only met Allan in person that morning… but not so surprising, I should think. As Allan mentioned, even upon first hearing the other`s voice there was the familiarity of old friends. Not entirely surprising as we had exchanged correspondence over a goodly span of time, but there is something to be said for speaking to a Soul in-person instead of relegating all communication to the written word. But, again, I digress…

The Luncheon hour is typically followed by a “siesta” in my household, so Candace and the children returned home while Allan and I ventured into the beating heart of Annapolis: downtown Dock Street. City Dock. Naval Academy. St. Anne`s church. State House circle. Ego Alley. St. John`s College. Treaty of Paris cafe. Et cetera and so forth.

Eventually we settled in to nursing a couple drafts next to the fireside bar in Middleton`s Tavern, sharing pints in the same room where Thomas Jefferson once got into a rather loud argument with James Madison and the same building in which George Washington often lodged whenever he was in town.

I would be lying if I said that our conversation was “pleasant” (as far as the common understanding of the term is concerned) but it was so for me. There was very little idle chit-chat, and I don`t recall much being spoken about the weather or the success of local sports teams… even so, we managed to engage in fierce conversation until a bright sunny afternoon faded into blustery blue-gray evening.

To encapsulate all that was said here would require talents of brevity that are well beyond my own, yet I can impart that we spent a good deal of our time discussing things of utmost importance in each other`s lives. The sacred things of life, family, and the LORD above.

With the dying of the day, came the imminence of tasks and responsibilities. I had a lesson and worship service to prepare for; Allan had responsibilities and obligations as well.

Parting with labored hesitance, I tried to glean everything I could in the dwindling minutes. Promises and plans were made. Of Texas, and our families.

Fare thee well, Sgt. Folsom… may our parting be short and our reunion soon.

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