Chapter 9 - Two Coming One Going
"It's colder than a witch's carcass out there!" said Sherman as he came in from getting the mail. "Well lookie here, I've got two letters; one from Max Klinger and another from Father Mulcahy. I guess you could call this a 'red letter' day!"
Sherman chuckled as he opened Klinger's letter first, wondering what the news might be. He hadn't heard from the boy since March and it was now November.
"Dear Colonel Potter,
"Well here it is autumn in Korea. I can't believe it's been over a year since we tore down the old 4077th. Who ever would have believed that Maxwell 'I'll do anything to get outta here' Klinger would still be in here. I guess that's what happens when the love of your life is a Korean Rita Hayworth trying to find her family.
"As I write we're back in Uijongbu. It seems that we've covered every inch of this wasteland. It tears my heart out to see so many homeless people. Everywhere we go there are orphans and people searching for their relatives. I guess it goes without saying that we have yet to find the Han family. Soon-Lee is doing pretty well under the circumstances.
"The army is still over here and I guess will be as long as there's the threat of war. At least it gives me someone I can speak my own language with. Soon-Lee has been teaching me how to speak Korean. You know the old saying, 'When in Rome...or in this case...Korea...'
"I think one of the things I hate the most about being here is that we don't have an address to receive mail. We haven't settled in one place long enough. I'm sure that somewhere in a dead letter office is a bag of mail marked 'Klinger.' I have written home and I hope my family has gotten my letters but I have no way of knowing. My mom worries about me and I hate to put her through not knowing where I am. I know how tough it is on Soon-Lee not knowing where her family is.
"I really miss all of my 4077th family, too. But hey I'd be missing all of you if I were back in Toledo, wouldn't I? At least there I could pick up a phone and call or something.
"I do have good news and better news! We're coming home! I've talked Soon-Lee into coming with me to the states. It's been over a year and we've had no luck locating her family as I've said before. But now we have another little 'problem.' We're expecting a baby in about three months. The general population here doesn't look too kindly on their women having kids with American GI Joes. You probably remember this from the time we had to leave that little half-American half-Korean baby at the monastery.
"So we're coming back to the states...Toledo of course...for the sake of our son...or daughter, whichever comes first.
"We've got things worked out...you know the army and its love of paperwork. It's a good thing I worked as a company clerk. The job taught me a lot about filling out the mountains of forms that Uncle Sam requires.
"I can't wait to get back to Toledo and introduce my WIFE and mother of my kid to a Tony Packo's Hungarian hot dog.
"I'll call you as soon as I can! Give my regards to anyone you still have contact with.
"It's good news, Mother!" cried Sherman. "Our little Lebanese fashion plate is coming home!"
"Then they found Soon-Lee's family?" asked Mildred.
Sherman shook his head sadly, "No, I'm afraid not. Max doesn't seem to think they will. But they're coming home because his little Korean filly is in a family way. Max is worried for the child's safety. The Korean's don't cotton to their bloodlines being tainted by other races.
"I think I wrote to you about the little baby that was left at the door of the swamp?"
"Yes, I believe you did," said Mildred thoughtfully. "Wasn't that the one you had to drop off at a monastery?"
"That's the one. Sweetest little thing you ever saw. We did our utmost best to get her out of the country to be adopted. We hated like anything to have to just drop her off like yesterday's laundry. I hear tell that the Korean government is sending as many of those Amerasian kids out of the country as they can. I wonder if that one made it out or if she's still in the monastery."
"Are you going to read Father Mulcahy's letter now?" asked Mildred.
"Oh yes, I almost forgot. I got so excited about Klinger coming back," said Sherman opening the letter. "Hmmm...this looks like a form letter of some kind. It's mimeographed. I wonder what that's all about..."
November 12, 1954
"My Dear 4077th Family,
"I am mimeographing this letter so I don't have to repeat myself to each and every one of you. Please don't take offense at this.
"I did so enjoy being with all of you in April in Crabapple Cove. Hawkeye, it's certainly as beautiful as you described it. With the snow we had it looked like a Norman Rockwell Christmas Card.
"Thanks to the Hunnicutts and the O'Reilly's for sending pictures of your children. I will always cherish these pictures as I cherish the friendship I've shared with all of you.
"It's with mixed emotions that I say I don't know when the next time I see all of you will be.
"You see I've made a decision that will take me far away from here. After spending time here in Philadelphia with the boys in the CYO, I've come to realize that I left something in Korea...my heart.
"No matter how hard I've tried, I have not been able to shake those orphans from my mind or my heart. I see them always...whether in my dreams at night or my daydreams.
"Much to my joy the Church has approved a transfer for me and in another month I shall be on my way back to Uijongbu! Sister Theresa has written to say that she's joyfully awaiting my return.
"Sherman, I will be sure to give Sophie your love. I know how much you miss her. I'll see to it that she's well taken care of.
"Understandably my sister, Sister Angelica, is disappointed that I'm leaving again. But both of us knew when we joined the religious order that our lives would no longer be our own.
"I'm enclosing my address at the orphanage. I do hope to hear from all of you. I will write as often as I can. All of you will be in my prayers.
"May God bless each and every one of you.
"Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy."
"What a touching letter," said Mildred, dabbing the tears from her eyes.
"Yes, it is, Mother," Sherman said with a cough that said he was overcome with emotion. "The Padre was always devoted to those children. He'd of made one helluva father to his own children if he hadn't decided to be a priest. But I suppose he's touched the lives of many more children this way."
"Listen to this, Peg," said BJ as he reread Father Mulcahy's letter. "'I came to realize that I left something in Korea...my heart.' That man would do anything for those kids."
Peg wiped the tears from her eyes and hugged Erin who was sitting on her lap. "He's a very special man."
"Holy Moly!" exclaimed Radar. "Father Mulcahy's going back to Korea!
"I'm really not surprised, Walter," said Patty who was rocking the baby. "Didn't you notice the faraway look in his eyes whenever he talked about the orphans? It was plain to me that he wanted to go back there. I'm happy for him and I'm happy for those children."
Radar smiled, kissed her and then stroked his slumbering daughter's downy head.
"So Father Mulcahy is going back to Korea?" said Charles. "I should say I'm not surprised, really. He was always the quintessential do gooder. I shall always be grateful to him, actually, for that Christmas he had Mother send my toboggan cap to help me feel more at home in that cesspool."
Charles and Louise sat in front of the fireplace with the Pierces in the study. The four of them had gotten in the habit of meeting for dinner at least twice a month. When they didn't go out for dinner the Pierce home was a favorite meeting place. There was something warm and welcoming about the old house.
"He's quite a guy," agreed Hawkeye. "He really loved those kids. I'm sure they'll be glad to have him back. Don't you agree Margaret? Margaret...yoo hoo?"
"Mffmmrfnuff...kiss me you fool..." she mumbled in her sleep.
He laughed at the woman passed out with her head in his lap. "I guess the excitement was too much for her."
"She did seem extremely tired tonight," remarked Charles. "Has she been in for a check up lately?"
"You know with Father Mulcahy going back to Korea it has gotten me to think about that little baby we tried to send stateside," said Hawkeye, changing the subject. He had his own theory about what was 'wrong' with Margaret but nothing had been substantiated...yet.
"Yes, I remember," said Charles. "I remember how miserably we failed."
"What are you two talking about?" asked Louise.
"A baby girl was left at the door of the Swamp with a note. The mother couldn't take care of her any more because she was the child of a GI. The Koreans are cruel to children of mixed parentage. We tried our damndest to get her out of the country," Hawkeye reminisced. "There was nothing the army, the Korean government or the US consulate could do to help us."
"She was a lovely child. It's hard to believe that anyone would be cruel to such an exquisite little girl," said Charles.
"I've heard that the Korean government is going out of their way to ship those kids out of the country. That poor little girl was in the wrong place at the wrong time. How old would she be now?"
"Hmm," thought Charles. "She was a few months old when we found her and that was early 1953...so perhaps not quite two. Didn't Max, the shutterbug of Uijongbu, take some pictures of her?"
Hawkeye reached over to the desk where Margaret had been compiling a scrapbook of their time in Korea. He pulled out a snapshot of the baby in the cradle that Sergeant Zale had made out of a ten-gallon drum.
"She's adorable!" exclaimed Louise.
Margaret sat up suddenly and looked around at them. "Oh I'm so sorry I must've fallen asleep. How rude of me...uh oh..." She jumped off the couch and ran down the hall.
"Don't worry dear," Hawkeye called after her. "You've been the life of the party!"