Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I stand in the luggage area, waiting anxiously. It has been three months since I have seen Son #1. Three long months. The airport is crowded. Somehow, I have managed, in all of the excitement to forget my phone. I wonder if we will ever connect.

Suddenly, I hear that voice.

"Come on, let's go."

I hardly recognize the young man standing in front of me. There are still those gorgeous brown eyes. That smile with the dimple and the gap in the middle. But now, the few scraggly hairs on the chin have become a goatee. And the boy-man I sent away is a man. Tall. Thin. Handsome. 

I cannot help myself. Tears well up. It has been way, way, way too long.

He will be staying almost three weeks. I expect that he will have a suitcase. But he brings only a backpack.

"I left a lot at home," he says.

One thing he did bring was his plaque.

A one foot by two foot wood plaque with  a picture of the football team on the top, and a smaller, maybe 5" X 7" individual picture in the corner.

"Can we hang this up?" he says, dragging it out of his backpack that night.

"Of course," I say.

I am a little surprised, however, when I get up the next morning to find the plaque hanging over the fireplace in living room.

I want, so much for my boys to become readers. They are not. I try to talk myself out of spending money on books they won't read. Even so, I find myself in the book section at Target the day before Christmas. I want to choose books for my boys.

Son #2 has just seen THE HOBBIT, so I buy that book for him. I hesitate for a minute for Son #1, then decide on a crime/thriller. I doubt that he will read it, but I just cannot quit trying.

We get in the car to go to the mall.

"What is this, anyway?" he says, holding up the CD audiobook of SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS.
I am not a big audiobook reader, but somehow I reserved this one instead of the hard copy. I have been listening to it as I drive around Denver this week.

"It's a book I'm listening to. Some people think it will win the Newbery."

"What's it about?"

I tell him that I don't really know yet. That so far there is a witch. And a little girl who is the only surviving of five children. That she invites a puppeeter and his two assistants to her birthday party. And that I am not far enough to know how all of those pieces fit together.

I am surprised that my son is interested. Elizabethan fantasy just doesn't seem like his genre.

"I was listening to it yesterday when I went to PT," says son #1.

Again I am more than a little surprised.


We go to the mall to buy new glasses. The glasses will take an hour, so we wander the mall. We buy a pair of tennis shoes, two pair of jeans. Still half an hour. We end up in the Apple store looking at phone covers. I show my son a cover that looks like an old book. I am joking. Thinking he will not  be interested.

"I want it," he says.

I try to keep the surprise out of my voice. "You do?" I say, in what I hope is a reasonably even tone. I tell him that if he wants a new phone cover, he needs to spend his own money. I think this will be enough to deter him.

The next night, we are watching a football game on television. It is about 8:30. "I wanna go to the mall," he declares.

"For what?" I ask.

"Cuz I wanna buy that phone cover."

Again I work hard to keep the surprise out of my voice. "I'm not sure you can make it before they close. Maybe you can go tomorrow. It's close to the dentist."

And once again, I am surprised the next day when he asks if we can swing by the Apple store on the way home from the dentist. A book cover.

There have been so many surprises this vacation…

 He needs the car for physical therapy. So he has been getting up at six several mornings each week. Without being asked. Without me having to bang on the door or wake him two or three times. Without complaining. Then coming back to get me. At the time I ask. Without complaining.

Unloading the dishwasher. Without being asked.

Stepping in when his brother is complaining about the enchiladas I have made for dinner. "K, stop!" he declares firmly. "Someday you are going to be at college and you are going to wish your mom to make you a pan of enchiladas for dinner!"

Apologizing for the math class he dropped this fall. "I'll make it up this spring," he says. "I just couldn't catch up after the surgery. And I didn't want to get an F."

It hasn't all been perfect. Last night there was a huge stack of dirty dishes in the sink when I got home from work. And the gas tank was empty, despite the fact that I had given him money to fill the car yesterday morning. Then this morning I woke at 3:14 to the TV blaring, because no one had turned it off when they went to bed last night.  And there are still endless conversations about good choices with girls, and drugs, and God.

Even so, I'm loving watching my man child grow up.

And dreading Saturday, when I have to take him back to the airport.


Laura Lynn Benson said...

I share your longing-feelings xoxoxo How moving to hear about your shared surprised over the holidays...And I pray you continue to hear all the "enchilada dinner" words, sweet friend...You so deserve them xoxoxo

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

This struck such a chord with me...we notice everything that shifts and changes when they're off to college and back home for those short intervals. How marvelous that you were able to reflect upon and capture so many of these, Carol! Enjoy this visit!

elsie said...

The journey of boy to man is a long road, difficult to navigate at times. I pray that your boys continue to find their path with fewer twists and turns to your heart.

Chris said...

Thanks for a neat slice. I was excited along with you about the book cover phone case. I dream that some day my girls will be readers, too. Enjoy this week with both guys at home!

writekimwrite said...

The details you choose help me picture each snippet so clearly. Thank you for sharing these endearing observations and surprises.

Deb Day said...

Your post brought back so many memories of our boys when they went away. And even now as men in their late 20's/early 30's. we see the changes in them. I love how they have grown. There were times I wondered if it would ever happen and now, here they are. Men I am proud to call my sons and my friends. Enjoy the time.... said...

Your post is such a sweet slice of the fruits of your many years of mothering and loving. It's not perfect with any of us....but readers emerge in the strangest of places. A few years ago, when my son was the captain of his college football team, I would never have guessed that one day he would beat me at Scrabble and we would discuss the power of "words" over dinner....never say never...cause you never know!

Linda B said...

I am so happy to hear this about your visit. I know you have been so worried & missing him. It was tough for me, I remember, with both kids when they left. One just gets used to who they are, & then you have to let others be the ones with them. I know that's what we all want, grown-ups, but it doesn't make it easy. Terrific about the enchiladas too!!

Mary Lee said...

I love your stories.

Terje said...

These little scenes of life are threaded together with mother's love. I like the format you used. Enjoy the three weeks.