Parents joke around a lot about kids growing up, kicking them out into the world, etc… When the time comes for them to go, it’s just not as funny. It’s important, and it’s necessary … but it’s never easy.
Trish and I are blessed with a big family. We have Stephanie, Bill, Zach, Zane and Katie. Stephanie started pulling free three years ago. She’s on her senior year of college at Columbia College in South Carolina. Bill headed out last year to the US Navy, and he’s down in Georgia getting ready to sink beneath the waves on a submarine.
Now – tomorrow – Zach is following, heading off to Great Lakes, and boot camp, leaving another big empty room … shrinking the home front by a voice and a smile. There are things that we’ll be able to do as the house empties out that we could not do before, but the fact remains, it gets emptier each time.
I have known Zach the longest of any of the kids. He’s not the oldest, but I was there when he was born. I watched him grow up and then missed some of the most important years of his life – because that’s how it happens, sometimes, with families. Now he’s leaving again, but I know he’ll be back.
His brother Zane isn’t too far behind him – one year – then we get holidays and visits…their lives and families will expand outward. I hope we’ll stay a family that is close. I don’t want to be right up one another’s faces, but I want home to be just that. Home. For all of them. (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want them to move back in …) I just want to know that when we are together, it will be a happy, important time for everyone and not a chore or a duty.
I can promise there will be pie…
And I’m not even ready to start thinking about Katie following them off into the sunset…with her we still have years. Really fast years that will dribble through our fingers, I know… But still, years.
You’ll understand this more later, Zach, but Fair Winds, and Following Seas from your Dad. Bill – we’ll see you soon, I hope. Stephanie will be here for Thanksgiving. Trish and Katie can hug me while I try to pretend none of it bothers me… I’ll miss you bud.
And I love you all…