Today’s guest post is from Thomas L. Trumble, author of Time to Go Home, a fictionalize memoir about honor and comrades during the time of the Vietnam War.
At first glance, Time to Go Home is a collection of war stories, one after the other, many told by ghosts who had served and died, but whose souls have yet to return home.
But then Trumble takes the reader deeper into an exploration of its narrator, John Rowe. Amid the story telling, John begins to ask where God was in all of this. Why did the politicians let it happen? Why is death so haphazard; a mortar round out of the sunrise and the soldier on the motor bike becomes a hole in the ground?
Since the opening of Speak the Word Only, a play based on his book, Trumble has observed that many who have seen the play, and now read the book, have commented on how his story has prompted war veterans to talk more about their experiences. “I’ve have people who have seen the play come to me and tell me that their fathers or brothers have served in World War II, or Korea, or Vietnam, or even as recent as Iraq, but they have never talked about it.”
A story of duty, honor, and being comrades, Time to Go Home tells not only war stories. It is also a collection of going-to-war and coming-home-from-war stories, as well. “Because war is not an event,” author Thomas L. Trumble explains. “It is a continuum that begins at home and then ends at home. The soldier does return to join either the quick or the dead. But John never did come home, not really. He just sort of settled in. That’s the hardest story to tell, when you’re an old man standing in a graveyard far from home, just talking with ghosts.
A Burden Becomes a Gift
Truth be told I did not want horses. Thought they’d just be a big burden. But, Ann wanted them. Said she’s wanted horses since she was 10 years old. Not me, I wanted a Maserati when I was 10.
“You got your Maserati”, she said. “Now I want my horses.” So we got em.
I knew that that they’d be expensive. You would faint if you saw the cost of restoring the barn, putting up 5 and a half acres of fencing, and installing a freeze-proof watering system. And this doesn’t include the cost of the hay and the vet bills and the Gower-12 horse feed.
I knew that they’d be lots of work and Ann wouldn’t retire until mid-January. Twice a day, every day, feed and muck and water. Tote those hay bales, lift that feed bag. Damn near everything about a horse weighs 50 pounds. Except the horses. They weigh about 1200 pounds; 1200 pounds coupled with the mind of a 6 year-old; a mischievous kid who has OD’d on Curious George while main-lining Red Bull.
But you know what, the horses were a wonderful gift. I’ve lost 25 pounds since Suzie and Royal arrived. And they gave the barn back its soul. But they gave me the best gift of all: new things to learn and new skills to master. I know how to pick a hoof and how to load hay on an F150. I know what the 12 is in Gower-12. I know how to design a horse barn and how to create a pasture. I know how to worm a horse and to count the flakes on a bale of hay.
And now I know the difference between a burden and a gift. And this is important for my family to know as well. I’m not getting any younger.