The Newnan Times-Herald


Those who wait also serve

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Apr. 21, 2017 - 12:39 AM

What’s behind a porch light? Or more specifically, who is behind a porch light?

When I was in my early years, it was my mother behind the porch light. I never once came home and that porch light wasn’t on. I didn’t realize it at the time, as I was much too self-obsessed to think about anyone else, but behind that porch light was someone waiting for me to get home safely.

I suspect I made her leave that light on later than it should have been more than a few times.

In my adult years, the person who sits behind the porch light has been passed on from my mother to my wife. She is now the one who leaves the light on for me, to find my way home. My wife is the one who sits and worries.

I know I have made her leave that light on later than it should have been more than a few times.

You can put whatever figurative twist you want on this porch light. I am speaking about a literal light that both my mother and my wife have left on for me throughout my life. To guide me home in the literal darkness.

I can say the exact same thing and want it to be figurative, and it will still be just as accurate. They have both been a light in my life to guide me home in the figurative darkness as well.

I've made them both leave that figurative light on later than it should have been more times than I'd like to admit.

The last time I wrote about work I told a story about my second night on the job, and how I had worked a horrific accident scene.

The evening that story was printed, I met a co-worker’s mother who told me she had cried as she read that article. She told me how it reminded her of a day she knew, thanks to social media, her son was on a terrible call.

All she knew was there was a really bad scene developing and her son was one of the responding officers on that scene. She told me details of what she was thinking and how she desperately tried to find out any information, the least of which was whether or not her son was all right.

Her comment reminded me of a night I worked not long ago. I left the house for work around 6 a.m. I should have been home that evening around 7:30.

Something happened toward the end of my shift that day that meant I had to work late. I didn’t have time to call home to tell anyone I might be late.

I got back in my patrol car around 10 p.m. and saw a message from dispatch that said, “Call your wife.” That’s never a good message. I don’t think, in the history of mankind and marriage, that a “Call your wife” message was ever met with “Honey, we just won the lottery.” You know when you make that call you’re likely to get yelled at.

I checked my phone and had several missed calls. And understandably so. It was 10 p.m. I should have been home three hours ago and she had heard nothing at all, other than people on social media talking about something bad happening.

It’s not a position I could be in, worrying like my loved ones worry. I knew I was alive and well those three hours. They did not.

When I got home that night, as tired as I was, I walked straight to the porch light she had left on for me.

If you are ever so inclined to say a prayer for me and my co-workers, the men and women behind the flashing blue lights, or the flashing red lights, we need and appreciate all we can get.

But say, too, a prayer for those behind the porch lights waiting for us. I think they have a job none of us could do.

(Toby Nix is a writer, guitarist and deputy sheriff living in Newnan.)