Richard’s Roaming: A Wild Card

Taylor Coleman

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” -Anonymous

This story is an effort to present a different side of my grandfather, one not yet shown by my project. I believe the worldly travels of my grandparents have shaped them as people and impacted their worldview, and consequentially mine. I also believe their travels have distinguished them from past Coleman generations, who were often poor agrarians who did not or could not afford to travel outside of the state of Georgia.

Upon first glance, Richard Delano Coleman is the living portrait of an old Southern man. He is a staunch conservative, with a penchant for a good beer and Sunday football games on the TV. He claims his throne in the living room with an old armchair more worn and battered than he is, and his jowls wobble slightly as he barks out tales of his childhood when he was “Pore as Job’s Turkey” (whatever that means). His plaid linen shirts and his southern drawl provide the image of the least exotic or worldly person imaginable. But underneath his unassuming and fickle demeanor lies a wealth of travel and experiences. Since his retirement in 1991, Richard and Patsy Coleman have visited every state in the United States of America, including Alaska and Hawaii. They have strolled along beaches in the Bahamas, and enjoyed cuisine in Italy. They have also spent time in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Monaco, Greece, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, Cayman Island, and Jamaica, alongside “a few other countries I have failed to recall”. Richard served with the United States Army in South Korea, and has even technically visited the mysterious and reclusive North Korea as he sat at the Peace Table inside the negotiating room at Panmunjon within the DMZ, along the 38th parallel. The fact that my grandfather, a man who seems so rooted in his worn leather armchair, has visited almost every corner of the globe bewilders me. But in reality, these travels have broadened his perspective and have woven themselves seamlessly into his daily life. He tells me that having seen Ephesus in W. Asia Minor (now Izmir, Turkey) where the Apostle Paul was imprisoned, makes the Bible all that more real and important to him. On his tour, he walked on the same stone walkway where Anthony and Cleopatra once walked, and he saw the remains of the prison high on a hill where the Apostle Paul was a prisoner. Last time all the Coleman grandchildren were gathered around the infamous armchair, my little sister, Hannah, exclaimed that Richard and Patsy must be “world travelers” after seeing pictures of them atop the Great Wall of China. While the older kids all laughed at the idea of our quaint, sweater vest wearing grandparents as world travelers, I realize now that the unofficial title is pretty spot on.

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