Every day, Jack tuned the radio to a specific frequency and waited for a sign he hadn’t been forgotten. Forty-five years passed by with nothing but static. Just when Jack is about to give up hope, a voice on the radio calls his name.
Jack sat by the radio at precisely five minutes before seven o’clock. He’d had a difficult day, but this was a part of his daily routine he never broke. The older man sighed, turned the radio on, and tuned it to a specific frequency.
The hiss of static filled the room. Jack leaned back in his chair and studied the photo of his late wife, Edna, while he waited.
“You wouldn’t believe what your boys said to me today, Edna.” Jack shook his head. “I wish I knew what I did to make them dislike me so much.”
Jack’s step-sons, Tim and David, had visited earlier that day. As usual, an argument had started. Tim and David wanted Jack to move into a nursing home because they thought he had dementia. Oh, they didn’t say it in so many words, but he knew that’s what they thought.
“They think you’re a figment of my imagination, Gerry.” Jack reached out to turn the radio volume up. “But I know I’ll hear your voice again one day.”
“There’s got to be a way to get the old man out of that house.”
Phillip peeped into the kitchen, where his dad, David, spoke on the phone to Uncle Tim. He knew they were talking about Grandpa Jack. They discussed him a lot lately, and most conversations used words Phillip wasn’t allowed to say.
“Actually, that’s not such a bad idea, Tim. I’m sure we can convince a psychiatrist that the old coot is crazy if we tell them how he listens to the static on that old radio every evening.” David chuckled. “It should be easy to get his power of attorney then and send him to a nursing home with constant supervision.”
Phillip frowned. He loved Grandpa Jack and didn’t understand why Dad thought he was crazy or why they wanted Grandpa to leave his home.
“Okay, Tim. You look for nursing homes, and I’ll contact a psychiatrist. I’ll get in touch with my lawyer too.”
Dad was approaching Phillip’s hiding spot, so the boy quickly slipped into the sitting room and sat on the couch. He turned the TV on to a cartoon but only pretended to watch it. Phillip’s mind was racing, but he knew one thing for certain: Grandpa was not crazy.
The next day, Phillip visited Grandpa Jack after school. He knew he’d probably get in trouble if Dad found out, but he had to find out what was happening with Grandpa. When Grandpa let him in, Phillip immediately went to the old radio.
“Grandpa, why do you keep this?” Phillip pointed to the radio.
“That’s how my best friend, Gerry, and I always kept in touch,” Grandpa replied. “We started using walkie-talkies tuned to a specific frequency to speak to each other when I was about your age, Phillip. During the war, our secret frequency even helped me save Gerry’s life.”
“One day, Gerry will talk on the radio, and I’ll hear it. Until that day comes, I’m just going to wait.”
“What happened, Grandpa?”
“Gerry was stuck, and he contacted me on the radio.” Grandpa smiled. “He told me where he was, and I went to fetch him.”
Phillip bit his lip and moved closer to ask the most crucial question: “Where is Gerry now?”
“I wish I knew, Phil. When we came home from the war, Gerry traveled to England to find a nurse he’d fallen in love with. He promised he’d return, and asked me to wait by the radio at seven every evening.”
Grandpa frowned and studied the radio. “It’s been forty-five years, and I still haven’t heard from him, but I haven’t given up hope either. I know my friend will contact me one day.”
Phillip nodded. His mom had taught him to trust his instincts, and right now, those instincts told him Grandpa was telling the truth. Just to check, he also asked Grandpa how he was feeling.
“I’m in excellent health, my boy.” Grandpa smiled at him. “And now I’ve spent time with my favorite grandson, I’ll also be in an excellent mood for the rest of the week.”
“I’m you’re only grandson, Grandpa Jack!” Phillip laughed.
After listening to Grandpa’s stories about the war and his friend Gerry, Phillip returned home feeling better about Grandpa’s health. However, that evening, Phillip overheard another of his dad’s phone calls. This time, he realized he needed to take drastic action.
That evening, Tim and David waited outside Jack’s home. When the psychiatrist arrived a few minutes before seven o’clock, the brothers let themselves into the house.
“You’ll see now why we’re so worried, doctor.” David snuck toward the door leading from the kitchen to the sitting room. “He listens to radio static every night, but he’s convinced his friend will call him even though he hasn’t heard from the man since they returned from the war.”
The three men peered into the sitting room and watched Jack sit down and turn on the radio. The static was loud enough to hear in their hiding spot.
“Surely tonight will be the night I hear your voice again, Gerry,” Jack said. “It will be so good to speak to you again.”
The psychiatrist turned to David and Tim. “It seems you’re right about your step-father’s state of mind,” he said.
Just then, a voice spoke over the radio:
“Jack, can you hear me?”
“Gerry! I knew this would be my lucky night,” Jack replied.
David and Tim stared at each other in shock. How was it possible that the same night they set out to prove the old man was mad, the call he’d been waiting for would finally happen?
In the next room, they heard Gerry say that he’d spent several years searching England for the nurse he met and finally settled down with her in Birmingham.
“I’m so sorry I didn’t get in touch all this time, but I never returned to America,” Gerry concluded.
“Well, it seems like he wasn’t waiting in vain after all,” the psychiatrist said. “I’m very happy to say that it seems your worries were unfounded, David and Tim.”
Unaware of the eavesdroppers in his kitchen, Jack told Gerry a little about what had happened in his life since they last spoke.
“When can we meet, Gerry?” Jack asked. “I’d love to see you again and catch up properly.”
“Sorry, Jack, but I can’t meet you. I also have to go now, but I want you to know that I never forgot about you, old friend.”
“I waited all these years to hear your voice again.”
Jack frowned at the radio. Jack had to be close to contact him, so why did his friend refuse to meet? Jack began to worry that something had happened to Gerry and his friend was hiding it from him.
“I’ll just keep asking until he agrees to meet me,” Jack muttered as he rose to make coffee. “If he is hiding something, he’ll share it with me eventually.”
Jack entered the kitchen and noticed his back door was open. He shrugged, assuming he’d forgotten to lock it earlier, and set the kettle to boil.
A few days later, Jack was even more worried about Gerry. His friend hadn’t contacted him again. When David asked him to watch Phillip one afternoon while he worked late, Jack decided it might be the perfect opportunity to distract himself.
Jack decided to surprise Phillip with a board game. When he entered the boy’s bedroom, Jack got a surprise of his own. A radio stood on Phillip’s desk. Beside it was a notebook. Curious, Jack peeped at the notebook to see which frequencies his grandson was monitoring.
The notebook was full of details about Gerry! Phillip had written down everything Jack told him about the city he and Gerry grew up in, where they served, the names of the people they both knew, and even the name of a bar they once visited during training.
“Please don’t be mad, Grandpa.”
Jack turned to Phillip, who stood in the doorway. “What is all this?” Jack asked.
“It was me on the radio,” Phillip said. “I used a voice-changing app to pretend to be Gerry so my dad and Uncle Tim would see that you aren’t crazy.”
Jack and Phillip sat on Phillip’s bed while the boy told Jack he’d overheard David talking to Tim and the psychiatrist. Jack sighed and put his head in his hands. He couldn’t believe how badly his step-sons had behaved.
“Thank you for believing me, Phillip.” Jack put his arm around the boy. “I don’t know why your dad and uncle are acting this way, but I don’t think they’ll bother me anymore after what you did.”
“I’m going to help you find the real Gerry.” Phillip looked up at Jack. “I’ll search on the internet and social media. Somewhere, there’s got to be a clue about where he is.”
The boy rose and started toward his desk, where the tablet he used for school and games lay, but Jack stopped him.
“I appreciate that Phil, but you don’t need to worry.” Jack smiled. “One day, Gerry will talk on the radio, and I’ll hear it. Until that day comes, I’m just going to wait.”
A few weeks later, Jack sat down five minutes before seven and turned on the radio. After everything that happened recently, he’d come to think that maybe his vigil was futile.
“Maybe Gerry did forget about me.” Jack leaned over to turn off the radio.
“Jack, do you read me?”
Jack frowned. He pressed the button to speak into the radio.
“Phillip, are you joking with me?”
“No jokes, Jack! Get outside in two minutes. I’ll be waiting.”
Jack stared at the radio in disbelief. Phillip wouldn’t pull a trick this mean on him, and the only other person that would contact him on that frequency was Gerry. With a heart full of hope, Jack rushed outside.
Jack couldn’t believe his eyes. The man on his front lawn was old and walked with a cane, but there was no mistaking his cheeky grin and intelligent eyes.
“Where on earth have you been!” Jack hurried to meet Gerry. “I waited all these years to hear your voice again.”
“I’m so sorry, my friend.” Gerry hugged Jack. “I was in an accident shortly after I arrived in London. I was in hospital for a year and lost some of my memories. You won’t believe who I met while I was there.”
“Not your nurse?”
Gerry laughed and nodded. “We married and had three kids. I wanted to get in touch so many times, but I couldn’t remember our secret frequency.”
“Then how did you speak to me now?” Jack asked.
“I told him the frequency.” Phillip stepped out from the shadows beneath a large tree. “I know you said you’d wait by the radio, Grandpa, but I wanted to help you find Gerry so bad that I looked for him even though you asked me not to. Eventually I found him on the radio.”
“Since I retired, I’ve spent an hour each day trying different frequencies in the hope that I’d find you on one of them,” Gerry said. “Instead, I got Phillip.”
Jack stepped away from Gerry to hug his grandson. “Thank you so much for this, Phil. You’ve made an old man very happy today.”
The two friends went inside. They spent the entire evening discussing their experiences over the many years they were separated. There wasn’t enough time to discuss everything that evening, but they met every day after that.
Soon, it felt like Jack and Gerry had never been parted. Their friendship was as strong as the day Gerry left. Jack decided to change his will so Phillip would inherit everything he had.
What can we learn from this story?
Never lose hope. Jack believed he’d hear from his friend again one day, even though many years had passed. Thanks to Phillip’s persistence, Jack was reunited with Gerry.
Always do the right thing. Phillip faced a difficult decision when he heard his father’s phone conversation about Jack. Phillip’s wise decision to investigate for himself saved Jack from his step-sons’ and helped him find Gerry.
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