All Alone

All Alone

In my mind’s eye, I can hear the wind whistle through the poorly built bunkhouse.  Christian sat all alone on his bed, staring blankly at the rough cut board wall.  His mind was far from this farm in Barshaw Alta, Canada, where he was a hired hand. 

            Sunday was his only time off from work.  No one else was around the farm now.  And he still had several hours of daylight to kill.  He picked up the weathered envelop which had been addressed to him, and reread the letter inside.  His son, Oliver, laboring as a missionary, had sent it to him months earlier.  Like Christian, Oliver was now living away from family and loved ones in his field of labor.    

            Christian set the letter down, and pick up his own pen and a blank post card to make his reply.  Ever so carefully, to write clearly but small.  He has a lot to say in such a small space.


            April 28, 1918 – Dear son, I recieved your welcome letter some time ago and should have answered before but something always comes in the way.  Hope you will excuse me. Am glad to hear from you and to here you are getting along all right.  Can say I am well I am working on a big farm.  We have got in over 300 acres wheat all ready but that is only the beginning.  I am running a gang plow every day.  We are having fine time.  I still have to wear cap and overshoes.  My bed fellow got sore at the boss and quit last week so now I have to sleep alone again.  I see by your letter that you are a stranger in a strange land.  Well I have been that many times so I know about how it is.  We have to feel our way like I call it for a while.  But you have a good home to go to.   That is more than I can say.  I don’t supose I will have a home till I get a little room under the ground.  I intend to try and get along as best I can.  I had a letter from Eleanor the other day.  They are well but I understand Reuben in not very well.  That is too bad.  I supose he works too hard.  I get a letter from your Aunt Mary once in a while that is about all.  Here is a fine lake close to the ranch but I don’t know how long I will stay here.  I may stay all summer and I may not.  Hope you and companion are getting allong  fine and doing some good.  I find good and bad people wherever I go and I supose you do the same.  I have left my trunk with all my best clothes in Edmonton over 100 miles north of here and I can’t go anywhere on Sunday and it gets kind of lonesome for me sometime.  I don’t know of anything particular to write about and am allways a fraid I shal write any thing that would make you feel bad.  Hope you will excuse these few lines with best wishes to you and Elder Spencer.  I remain your Father…C.J. Haroldsen… Please write a little when you have the time.


This letter, written on a postcard 90 years ago has a haunting tone for me.  Some of the phrases whisper from the past to me when I feel those same emotions.  “… a stranger in a strange land…  it gets kind of lonesome for me sometime… am allways a fraid I shal write any thing that would make you feel bad…” 

I watch people.  I try to read their thoughts, their feelings.  I believe we all have similar feelings at some time or another in our lives.

My work gives me lots of opportunity for lonely introspection.  Late at night after the processing crew is gone, my paper work is complete, and the cleaning and maintenance crews are busy doing their thing, I try to write.  Often the work on my family history novel is slow and frustrating as I struggle to really understand how my ancestors felt so I can put it into the words of my novel.   In this contemplative state, I often give up for the night and go to bed.  There, all alone like my Great Grandpa, I lay waiting for another hard day of work to come to once again occupy my mind.  The wind howls around the buildings.  I can hear a dog bark, or maybe it’s a coyote.  The dust kicks up as a storm front moves through the desert waste land I call home at work.  And somewhere in the darkness of the night, I can feel Christian’s emotions as he waited for another day to put him back on the gang plow.  That’s when I need to get up and write his story.  But I’m fearful of having enough strength to make it through the next day on MY OWN gang plow.  As I plow through my day, I think of my family, past and present.  I watch those I work with.  Not everyone sleeps alone in a far away bunkhouse.  Most have family and associates around almost all the time.  But I am learning that if I see someone who doesn’t suffer from loneliness to some degree, I just don’t know that person well enough to see it.  I am learning that it is a rare and precious gift to find someone who understands me.  They don’t have to think like me, but someone who truly understands and respects me in spite of my flaws, is the ultimate friend.  

To me, the most heart breaking line Christian penned that day was, “I don’t supose I will have a home till I get a little room under the ground.”  I don’t believe Christian was really thinking of a physical place as his imagery suggests.  In his subconscious, home was a place where he wanted to be, where he was understood, and accepted in spite of his flaws.  The more I think about this, the more I want to be that haven, that home… for my family, my loved ones… those who have passed on, as well as those presently around me.  And if I can truly feel that way toward those I know, then I will never be all alone either.



9 thoughts on “All Alone”

  1. Sometimes I feel like the mule hitched to the gang plow. Worked hard and put up wet. But, I know I am never alone. In my heart and center of my being there is one present that will always be. I call him Jesus.
    I always enjoy you post and I check your profile regularly for new ones. Your novel will be written one day! I am inspired and honored to enjoy it’s writing.

  2. "a stranger in a strange land"——-I always have the kind of feeling in life.
    "it gets kind of lonesome for me sometime"—–mmmm,esp at night..
    "I am allways a fraid I shal write any thing that would make you feel bad"———I found most of  my articles are not so  excited just  thoughtful.
    People in the world get the same feeling sometimes.
    "Often the work on my family history novel is slow and frustrating"——mmm,I understand the situation,esp for an amateurish  writer. To collect the files and information of ancestors,to clear up the mind to write down articles,to contact with publisher and persuade them to give you the chance,etc. However,if you keep your dream in heart and keep on every day. You will make it      : )       ( I believe you have done most  .Moreover, you have a supportive wife and lovely children back )
    Life needs me alone,but not sinking, I think.
    Take care .

  3. As if you don’t know………You have one awesome sister.  Would love, one day, to meet you.  Get a sense you two are so very connected.  Little brother, you are.

  4.     Ron,
    Always enjoy your writing.  Your words make me think of the past, present and the future.  Gives me a quick trip to my inner self.  I need that from time to time.  Keep up the good work. 

  5. I think at times we all feel lonely in different degrees.  It is sad that there are so many people around us and we can still feel lonely.   I also agree that it is a rare and precious gift to find someone who understand you inspite of the flaws ect.  To beable to be completely honest about how you feel or think about things and still be loved would be the ultimate friend.  In my mind… I think you do an excellent job of providing a haven for your family.  And this physical (because of job) loneliness is only temporary… hang in there my dear husband… Vallerie

  6. I can certainly feel the connected-ness you are having to Christian’s letter.  Your book will resonate with truth because of the truthful emotions you are having while writing it.
    As I read the letter I kept thinking about the names. Oliver, hmmm, and Eleanor.  I knew an Oliver and an Eleanor.  They were very old.  It took a second to realize that these were the very same ones written about while in their prime.  The older I get the more I realize how very close those who’ve gone on before really are to us.
    Take care bro, and IM me anytime.

  7. Eosforos Rex InfernusExiled archangel of revengedethroned emperor of the universethe lord of the deepest abysspenetrator of the wicked soulsalong the streams of acheronplace of perpetual punishmentthou dwell and rulethe spirits of the pagan powersthou urge a restless aspirationunder your sightthe legion is assemblingas we breed faith and fearwe have drunk of your spiritas the shadow of impure crownawaits for the shapeless immortaldominating the darkest pitsresting in the lair of fire…

  8. She dons the grey and hooded cloak;unique in unintrusiveness, veiling her true visageconcealed in all mysterieswhich are blind in consciousness;gliding warm silk whisperout of the corner of my eye
    The mother of sensationrevealed only through abandonpressing forth with passion’s urgenceuntil blackness fills with redHooded, cloaked to those who hesitateto confront her scal’ed visagerevealed in all obscenityto those drawn to her embrace
    The constriction of true freedomwraps across my yearning bodyand I revel in her warm dark scales,letting waves of breath escape
    Her eyes do not hold evil, but true knowledge of our freedomfleeing wildly from oppression, enslavement and discourseto the silence of ecstacy, the darkness of the wood,the warmth of the black cave,the hollowness of time
    The power of the snake who coils;enfolds in scales the spiral’s mysteriesundiscovered withinShe who strikes with vengeance and justice,She who whispers in my ear,She who hisses passions intense-In darkest blackIn flaming redPresent but not seenHidden in full viewShe and I entangle and I turn a greedy ear

  9. You are a deep thinker, and sometimes we burden ourselves with trying to be all things to all people and their is only ONE of you to go around! Take care,

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