Orphan Survival Stories
I ACCEPT THIS AWARD WITH MUCH HONOR, MY
Heading down the Alaska Alcan Highway into Canada was quite an adventure. It seemed like a never-ending road made entirely of rocks: little rocks, big rocks, hard rocks, soft rocks, red rocks, white rocks, black rocks. Every kind and type of rock known to humankind was used to make that ungodly road.
The worst thing about those darned rocks was that they constantly hit the bottom of every vehicle that drove upon its face. They never stopped hitting the bottom of your car as long as you were moving and in time, would drive a person very insane. I am talking about hour upon hour of rocks clinging, clanging, pinging and banging. My head, my ears and my mind could finally take no more of the loud noise beating against the bottom of the car. So it was decided my friend and I would pull off the road at the next available place of rest.
I had no idea where we were as I looked at the map and really did not care. All I knew for sure was that Alaska was miles behind us and we were now traveling south somewhere in the Yukon Territory of Canada, heading toward the lower 48 states.
I was 24 years old and had been released from prison about two months before. My return to Alaska was to see if anything could be worked out between my ex-wife, my two children and me. I was willing to do anything to keep the family together for the sake of my two boys. However, my now ex-wife had already started a new life for herself. She told me that rather factually, by showing me her middle finger. It was clear I should head on down the road, never come back and that is exactly what I did. It really did not matter to anyone on the face of this earth where I came from, where I went or what I did.
I had been raised in an orphanage most of my life and did not have a family, so my moving right, left, forwards or backwards, including up and down, really made very little difference to me or anyone else for that matter. I think that was about the loneliest I have ever been as an adult. I guess because now I did not even have the other orphans in the orphanage or the inmates in the prison to keep me company.
The snow was piled 20 feet high on each side of the road and off in the distance I could see a signpost. As we approached the sign, it read "Burwash Lodge, 1 mile.” That was a glorious sight to me, because I knew it would bring us hot coffee, hot food, but more than that; it would give several hours of rest and some much needed quiet from the banging rocks.
We pulled up to the lodge, parked and walked into the lobby entrance. Immediately, I noticed there were eight or nine young girls working at the lodge. I walked into the restaurant, sat down at one of the tables in a far corner and ordered a hot cup of coffee. I had carried several small bundles of legal papers into the lodge with me, which I had promised to complete for some friends.
"Would you like more coffee?" the waitress asked in a soft voice.
As I looked up, I saw one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen on the face of this earth. Even to this day, that thought is still very true. I picked up my coffee cup and held it toward her so she could fill it.
"Thank you very much," I said as I smiled back at her.
I had not dated or had any contact with a woman whatsoever, in almost four years, as I had been locked away in a prison cell. I could not believe it, but I was not looking her up and down from the backside as she walked away. That aspect appeared to be so unimportant to me for some reason. I was just taken by the beauty of her face and the kindness that I could see in her eyes; when she came near me, I felt calmness like I have never known.
Over the next few hours, I worked on my legal petitions and finally managed to complete them. As I was about to get up and walk outside to smoke a cigarette, the beautiful waitress came walking back over to my table with the coffee pot. I placed my hand over the top of my coffee cup and told her that I did not want anything more to drink. Then we began to talk. I told her my name was Roger and I was from Florida, which was located in the United States of America. She made it clear to me that she was very aware of where Florida was, as well as the U. S.
She held out her hand, which I shook and she said, "My name is Anne and I am very glad to meet you, Roger."
For as long as I live, I will never forget taking her beautiful hand in mine. The feeling that came over me cannot be described in words; the warmth, the tenderness, the joy and the happiness that I felt at that very moment. An inner peace that came over me; it was something that I never felt as a boy or a man.
Anne and I walked around for hours and hours just talking. I looked at her beautiful face and could hardly believe such a lovely woman would even talk to someone like me. Much less, that she would like me or think what I had to say was important or that my uneducated words meant anything at all. If ever there was a time in my life when I started to feel like an equal person, to feel good about myself, to build character or become a real human being who felt that he was worth something, it was then. My meeting this wonderful young woman was all of that from the very first moment.
It was getting late and I knew it was about time to head back out onto the road. I located the friend who was giving me a ride to the states and told him I was ready to go. He said he was talking with a girl named Monica, who was a college student from British Columbia. I also told him about Anne and that I had never met anyone so beautiful and kind.
"There are a lot of fish in the sea,” he said as we walked out and got into his car.
"Not like her," I said.
I turned around and saw Anne standing on the porch with her coat wrapped around her.
"Do you want to stay here?" the man asked.
"Could we stay just for supper and then leave?"
We got out of the car and walked back toward the lodge. Anne stuck out her hand and I grabbed it tightly. I almost felt like crying, but knew a man could not do that in front of a woman. Anne told me she was off work for the remainder of the day, so I asked her to have dinner with me.
I ate as slowly as I could, hoping the time I had left with Anne would last for as long as possible. I looked up and saw the man motioning to me. I excused myself and walked over to him.
"It's too damn late to really get back on the road tonight, so we might as well get a room and stay until morning."
My heart just about jumped out of my chest. I was so happy and excited. I walked back over to the table where Anne was sitting and sat down. I was a little hesitant to tell her we were staying the night, as I did not want her to think I was staying because of any sexual thoughts about her. Besides, I looked at myself in the mirror every morning and knew such a thing would never happen between this beautiful woman and myself. So I did not even think about it.
I watched my friend walk out into the lobby. He returned several minutes later telling me the room number we would be staying in. Anne and I sat for two or three more hours, just talking and laughing with one another. I have never enjoyed the company of a woman more than at that very moment in my life. About 12 o’clock, we got up from the table, said good night to each other and walked up the stairs together to go to our rooms. I turned and looked into Anne's eyes and still could not believe how beautiful she was. I squeezed her hand as tightly as I could, and then she moved her face towards mine and we kissed for the first time.
"Would you like to come to my room,” she asked me.
I was so scared that I did not know what to say. Anne took me by my hand and very gently led me into her room. We talked for another hour or so and all of a sudden, the most wonderful, warm and kind feeling came over me. I was no longer scared or afraid. I stood up and walked very slowly over to the most beautiful woman I had ever known, took her by the hands and gently pulled her up from the chair onto her feet. I wrapped my arms around her, kissed her gently on the lips and looked into her eyes. That was the first time in my life that I had ever seen love for me in another human beings face.
It is a night I will remember for as long as I live on this earth. There was no good or bad, right or wrong, handsome or ugly, short or tall, thin or fat. There were none of those kinds of things that night. Just a wonderful goodness, along with kindness, and the warmth that a man and a woman should really feel for one another when their hearts are looking to be needed by someone special.
Anne and I left Burwash Lodge several days later and within a year we were married. We had a beautiful daughter, who we named Twila Anne. Twila has now grown up and owns a dance studio in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Anne and I separated when Twila was only about 2 years old. I just could never get over the horrors of what the orphanage did to me as a child. I could never get it through my thick head that a beautiful young woman, who was also wonderful, kind and intelligent, could ever fall in love with someone like me.
If I have accomplished nothing else in my lifetime, there is one thing I can very proudly say, “It was an honor to have been kissed by one of the most beautiful women I have ever known.”