Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thanksgiving Eve goodness November 22, 2012

FIFTY MILES FROM FARGO, he called his dad. His words were garbled, cutting in and out.

So he hung up, dialed my cell. “Give me Dad,” he snarled.

I waited, listening to one side of a conversation that did not sound good.

After my husband clicked off my phone, he told me that Julie’s car had broken down near Fergus Falls. Our son’s friend had managed to steer the smoking vehicle off Interstate 94 at eastbound exit 50. There they sat, four North Dakota State University college students stranded along the interstate on Thanksgiving Eve with nearly 250 miles to go.

Interstate 94 sometimes seems to run right into the sky as you drive west toward Fargo. (File photo)

What to do? We offered to drive the four hours north and west to Fergus Falls. But Caleb told us to wait, that they were trying to figure things out, to find a tow truck and perhaps hitch a ride from another friend back home to Faribault.

At one point, in several exchanged phone calls, my son ordered, “Stop freaking out, Mom.”

Alright then.

I asked Caleb to keep me posted. And eventually they worked it out, securing a tow and ride, walking from the mechanic’s shop a short distance to a nearby convenience store, waiting for the friend to arrive from Fargo. By 9 p.m., they were back on the interstate, 2 ½ hours after that initial SOS to my automotive machinist husband who was trying to long-distance diagnose problems with an aged Honda.

Shortly after our son and three others left Fergus, Julie’s dad phoned saying her car had already been repaired. (Phil didn’t know the specific diagnosis.) Julie had insisted on staying with her vehicle, sending the others on their way home.

My husband doubted anyone would repair the Honda on Thanksgiving Eve, or anytime prior to Friday. He was, obviously, wrong.

So we waited, me reading, my husband nodding off as the television blared and the minutes crept into hours, past midnight and then 1 a.m.

Shortly after 1 a.m., our son arrived home and we embraced in fierce, tight hugs. I was so relieved to have my boy home early Thanksgiving morning.

But there is more to tell, for this is also a story of thankfulness.

Thank you to the good people, the many strangers, who stopped to check on the stranded travelers at eastbound exit 50 by Fergus Falls. There were many, our son said.

Thank you to the mechanic who repaired Julie’s car on Thanksgiving Eve.

And thank you to the young woman who was willing to drive three other college students 250 miles home.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am a grateful mother.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A photo psalm of Thanksgiving

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One of many rocks which grace the Kasota Prairie, rural Kasota, Minn.

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock or our salvation.

The Freedom choir sings during an outdoor mission festival in the woods south of Janesville, Minn., in August.

2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

A snippet of a crown in a stained glass window at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault, Minn.

3 For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.

“The Prairie is My Garden,” a painting by South Dakota artist Harvey Dunn, showcases the prairie I so love. Here I’ve photographed most of a print which I purchased at a yard sale for a bargain $20.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.

5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

American soldiers receive The Lord’s Supper in Korea, May 1953. Photo by my foot soldier father, Elvern Kletscher, who fought on the front line during the Korean War. My Dad wrote this home in a letter to his parents: “Sure was good to go to church. I had communion. I always try and make every church service they got over here. Once a week the chaplain comes up here on the hill.” Powerful words. Powerful photo of our soldiers kneeling on Korean soil to partake of The Lord’s Supper.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;

A pastoral spring scene near Roberds Lake, rural Rice County, Minn., near my Faribault home.

7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Psalm 95: 1-7, New International Version of the bible

Photos copyrighted 2012, Audrey Kletscher Helbling