“Are you ready love; have you got all your stuff?” I asked from the foot of the stairs.
A beautiful young woman, my 18-year-old daughter Becca, bounded down the steps, a small suitcase in one hand and a black plastic bag full of soft toys and books in the other. “Yes dad, but let me say goodbye to mum.”
I took her luggage and placed it in the boot of my car. When I returned to the hallway Mrs Jones had Becca in a bear-hug, both tearful, grasping at each other.
“Look after yourself sweetie,” blubbered my wife, surfacing from the embrace and holding Becca at arm’s length, as if to glimpse her for one last time.
“I will mum” said my tearful daughter.
“What are you two like?” I said, “Anyone would think she’s emigrating to Australia, rather than nipping down the M62 to Liverpool University! Get a grip; she’ll be home in a couple of weeks.”
During the one-hour drive few words were spoken. Despite my efforts not to, every few minutes I glanced to my left at Becca, in the passenger seat, listening to her iPod. I smiled, smug in the knowledge that the cute, compassionate lady at my side was mine. As I pondered how a flawed, hairy fellow like me could have reared such perfection, a warm tingle caressed my neck and shoulders, causing me to sit taller in the driving seat.
When we arrived at the university accommodation, I carried her bags to her room. Once inside, I tried to make myself useful; straightening the duvet, wiping the sink and picking imaginary specs off the carpet. I sensed eyes on me and I turned to see Becca grinning at my delaying tactics.
“Just go dad; mum will be wondering where you are.”
I opened my arms wide and Becca walked into them. I held on to her like a drowning man clinging to flotsam. I put my hands on either side of her head, tilted it forward and snorted her crown. Ah a musty scent to kindle so many memories: lifting a new-born bundle from the midwife’s arms; the infant in a pink baby-grow lying asleep, warm and clammy, across my chest; and the distressed toddler who, forgetting she had taken off her inflatable wings, had plunged into the deep end of a Spanish swimming pool and was telling me, while water dripped off her nose, “I wen tunder daddy, I wen tunder.”
And now I had to abandon her to fend for herself in a big city. I noticed my pollen allergy was flaring so I kissed her cheek, turned and carried on walking to my car without looking back.
I am participating in the Dude Write Starting Lineup this week where you can find some excellent posts by bloggers who happen to be dudes: http://dudewrite.blogspot.com)
I am verklempt. When they are babies keeping you up all night it feels like it will never end. The next thing you know they are leaving home. I saw a (terrible) play last week but one line came out of it that is so true. "One minute you're waiting and the next minute you're 89." Very touching post Mr. Jones.ReplyDelete
Yes, Pam, time passes rapidly. One minute you're changing nappies (diapers), you blink and by the time you open your eyes again they are leaving home.ReplyDelete
Thanks, as always, for your interest.
Holy Jeesh Man! Are you trying to kill me? My oldest will be going off to college in a few years and I get sobby just thinking about it already! You should post some warnings!ReplyDelete
Beautifully done, sir!
Sometimes the anticipation can be worse than the actual event. But then again, a child leaving home is always going to be a milestone.Delete
I appreciate your interest and generous comments.
and it never gets easier..when my oldest daughter left for college I cried every single day until Thanksgiving....when the next few left at least I was prepared to see them go, but it never got an easier...ReplyDelete
hang in there!!
I've just the two children and the daughter referred to is my youngest, so this is the last wrench (at least of this type).Delete
Thanks for dropping by.
Oh man, a touching tale and well written. Yet another chapter in our lives, right? I'm still many years away from it, but surely one day I'll be in your shoes...ReplyDelete
Yes, another chapter in the epic tale of life.ReplyDelete
At the risk of sounding like an old bore, the various milestones come and go very quickly: married - children - children leave home etc. Relish each moment.
Thanks for your interest.
Letting go is one of the hardest things we parents must do. Mrs. Chatterbox sobbed for two hundred miles when we dropped our boy off at the University of Oregon in Eugene. But don't worry; these days kids have a habit of returning home after college.ReplyDelete
Yes I suspect you are right. My 22-year-old son hasn't left home yet and I anticipate he will still be with us at 42 - he knows when he is onto a good thing!Delete
Wow man. I'm sitting here crying. What a beautiful and tender story. Thanks for sharing. That was beautiful.ReplyDelete
I'm honored that it moved you. Perhaps I do have a sensitive side - it's just hard to find most of the time.Delete
Wow, you can certainly convey emotion very well! I don't have a child so I can't begin to think what it's like to let go, but with your post I at least got a glimpse of the difficulty in doing so.ReplyDelete
But yeah, my mother exhausted all her tears on my sister's departure so by the time I went to college, I got nothing but a "see ya later." Granted my school was only a 45 minute drive down the highway.
I appreciate your generous comments.Delete
I can see what you mean about the second child causing less of a stir. It's as if the emotion has been spent on the first-born.
Our oldest and middle son are both out of school now and working. While the middle one is still living here full time, our oldest is only at home occasionally. We joke (or maybe not) about shushing them out the door so we can convert the extra rooms into something more usable, but when the day does come, I'm sure it won't be so easy.ReplyDelete
Our oldest son (22 years old)remains with us at home. He knows when he is on to a good thing.Delete
Thanks for your interest.
The day you let the go tunder is the hardest day. Mine are fledging soon as well and you wonder what cruelties the world has in store for them and more importantly whether they will call you for help.ReplyDelete
Fortunately or rather unfortunately, the last one is turning 9 next week, so we'll have her for a bit longer and at the same time, it will be harder to see her go.
Yes, the youngest leaving is always likely to be the most difficult. The family home, once a cradle for frenetic activity, is transformed into a place of tranquility - great in some ways, not in others.ReplyDelete
Also, for dads, the little girl leaving can be a painful wrench.