Running Away from Home
(True Runaway Kid's Story – Many Years Ago)
North Wisconsin. Mid-November. Frozen snow on the ground. Today was the day. I decided to run away from home. I was just a few days shy of my 10th birthday.
No suitcase. No change of clothes. About $10 in my wallet. Just the clothes on my back. But that did include a winter coat and hat, gloves, and boots over my shoes. I was on my way to Arkansas. What could go wrong?
Why Run Away from Home?
I would teach my parents a lesson. They needed it. After all, I was almost ten years old, and I knew what I was doing.
Being number six of six children was not easy. My three older brothers had already gone off to a school a long way from home. I had two older sisters who were still home. We lived on a six-acre farm with cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, dogs, and cats. My dad was very busy with his own local trucking business. So, when my brothers all left home, guess who was supposed to take care of the farm? In the summer, I would get to take care of our gardens of between 1-2 acres – using mostly manual tools.
When school started that fall, the big routine started. Get up early. Milk the cow. Feed the animals. If there was snow to shovel, I got to help my dad with that on our long hilly driveway. All of that before breakfast. Then, after breakfast, I was privileged to help my sisters do dishes. After that, my dad hauled us to school.
Talk about pity parties! I was having the party of my life! After two months of this, I was really fed up. This problem festered in my mind until I could stand it no longer. It was time to take action, and I did.
The Running Away from Home Plan
Off to Arkansas! I'm not sure why I chose Arkansas. I must have read about it and decided that was the place for me to go. I could find a job there, live in the woods if I needed to, and then become immensely successful. A perfect plan. And I was going to put it into action starting on that cold November day.
Putting the Plan into Action
That morning started as usual – doing the morning chores and then off to school. I sat thru the morning classes, but I could not keep my mind focused on those classes. I was thinking thru my plans.
Lunchtime came. Time for action. Our home was on the south side of town, about a mile and a half from school. So I had to go that direction to reach my designated highway headed for Arkansas. I wanted to see my home one last time before I left. Winding through a backwoods trail, I cut across an almost frozen swamp. The path ended in some fields back of my home. Then I viewed our house, the barn, and other buildings. After taking that last look at my family home, I skirted around it, taking care to stay out of view.
Winter is beautiful up there. I enjoyed seeing the snow glistening on the trees, on the ground, and on the roofs of the buildings. I wanted to get a good look so that later, I could remember when I lived in the south's warm climate.
Journeying around our home, I finally made it to my chosen highway for travel. I had selected a country road that was not well-traveled. I didn't want anybody to see me till I was a long way from home.
Alone and Cold on a Dark Country Road
So, I walked – and walked – and walked. Even though I had a good, warm winter coat, I was getting cold. At that time of year, darkness started creeping in about 6:00 pm. I began thinking about where I could spend the night. It would have to be a sheltered place in the woods. But the woods were dark at night, and I had never walked in them before. I was frightened.
The cold was settling in – through my winter coat and clothes, and I shivered. As I trudged along this lonely, seldom traveled road, I began to wonder if anyone would come along and see me. I knew it would be a stranger, and I had learned to be very careful about strangers. What would I tell him?
The further I went, the more concerned I became. I started to cry. That made me ashamed of myself. I was already almost ten years old and off to the adventure of my life. I was a young man. But I was crying. Shameful! I decided to "man up" and kept trudging along.
Rescued by a Stranger
Sometime later, a car came along – and stopped. It was a middle-aged man. He asked me who I was and where I was going. I don't remember what I told him. He kept asking questions until he figured out who I was. Then he asked me if I knew everybody was looking for me. He turned on the radio. After a few minutes, an announcement came on about a little, lost boy. And it described me. That started an avalanche of tears.
He took me to a tavern (there's a lot of them in north Wisconsin) so he could make a phone call. He called the police. They notified my parents. Then he took me home.
There were cars all over the place at my home: relatives, friends, and people who helped search for me. My parents came to the car and hugged me and thanked the man. I never did find out his name.
Mom and Dad took me into the house, and I received a royal reception. The doctor was there – the same one who delivered me as a newborn. At that time, doctors made house calls. He checked me all over and then said I was ok.
Then we ate. It was a good meal – but I don't remember what it was. I do remember the ice cream. In my opinion, that was an extremely important part of my diet, and my parents knew that. It was good to be home!
I did learn a few things that day. My parents truly loved me. And maybe my sisters did too – yeah, they did. I also learned that even if life isn't fair, we all have responsibilities and need to fulfill them. My parents helped me in the following years until I made it through high school, and then they sent me off to college.
God is so gracious to us. And He used this challenging event in my life to teach me and train me for the future.