This Guy

I’m just going to get right to the point.  I am about to be an empty nester.  Remember that awful sit-com in the eighties- Empty Nest?  Well, my son is going to graduate this year and seems set on moving away from home to go to college.  And I’m fine with that.  Really, I am.

(images courtesy of Kreative Kamera)

I grieved for my babies when my daughter was about to graduate from high school.  I looked through photo albums and felt constant deja vu of times I had with them as little ones.  I had vivid dreams in which they were still carry-able.  I even breathed in the smell of their little wispy baby hairs, as I held them, in those dreams.  But I dealt with my longing and was able to feel excited and happy for her, and now him.  I have also designated his bedroom as the ultimate knitting/ sewing room when he leaves.

We are about to visit a campus he is interested in.  So a lot of thoughts have been swirling around in my head about my son.  I don’t have them all organized and “Chicken Soup” sounding here, I’m just writing them as they come to me.

His birthday totally got hijacked by Hurricane Harvey.  Normally we would take him out to eat, just our little family, then have relatives over for cake on the weekend.  But this year, we had spent several days just sitting around our house staring at the weather channel, staring at each other, and staring at the floorboards, wondering when/if the flood waters would start gushing through.  (We live in an older home on piers.)  Having our cats stare at the floor, under which water was rushing, was extra unnerving.  I have a permanent image of my son sitting on the edge of his bed for a day or two just waiting with a look of dread on his face.  He knew we were not in danger of drowning, just the amount of work that would go into repairs and how it would upset our lives if we did flood.  He also knew it was happening, at that moment, to many of his friend’s families.

Then, as the water receded, he started working crazy overtime hours at one of three grocery stores still open in our area.  We were stocked up on food, but we stood in line for 20 minutes just to get in and see him.  We also wanted to find some kind of meal worthy of celebrating his birthday at our home.  The only meat left was filet mignon, seriously.  We got that, potatoes, and the last box of strawberry cake mix.  We made it and celebrated all he added to our lives these 18 years.  His birthday was way low key- no relatives, no present even, since the mail had been stalled in Houston due to flooding.  But he was grateful, too.

Something has shifted over the years.  He was always really helpful as a kid.  He often sat with his grandfather when my grandmother had to be away or he would help me with projects around the house without complaining too much.  But in the last couple of years he has started approaching things more as a man and less as my boy.  He sees me about to lift a heavy plant and rushes to intercede, “You’ll throw your back out again.”  He eats fried eggs, with asparagus and braised brussel sprouts and declares it great!  He says something impatient to his sister, in a very brotherly tone, then apologizes not too long after.  He notices when a person is treated unjustly and it doesn’t sit well with him.  He prays for guidance more and more, not just health for family members.  That’s a big one to me.  Another big one, he is immersed in Southeast Texas culture all day at school, but he hasn’t let the baser elements, like racism, polarizing politics shape his worldview.  I’m proud of this because I don’t think he can truly indulge in the relationship with God that I just mentioned and have that darkness growing in his heart.  Guys, I cannot wait to see how my children’s perspective will effect the world around them.

I’m going to post about our backpacking trip later, because it was super meaningful to me, but let me say he rescued me from an anxiety attack on a high, slippery slope.  He was calm, he carried too much weight on his back, and after we reached our destination, he said he was glad he did it with us.   That’s high prose from someone who already made the Philmont Trek and deemed this trip even harder.

So, these are all photos from his Eagle Scout Court of Honor.  He joined scouts late, after going to some friends’ court of honor a few years ago.  He was almost 15.  When it was over he said he wished he’d done scouts.  He had wanted to but was involved in too many extra curricular activities to add another without deleting something.  I said, “Why not do it now?  You don’t have to make Eagle to learn and have fun camping.”  I did warn him that I may not be much help to him.  This was in the middle of The Great Imbalance of 1013-17 (so named because I refer to it quite a bit).  My brain and body were being stretched to their limit with illness and care of elderly relatives.  In other words, I had very poor memory.  I said I would try to help him in any way I could, but he would probably have to keep track of his badges and stay on a tight schedule if he wanted to make Eagle Scout before he turned 18.   And he did it.  He ran with it.  He kept track of his merit badges and service projects all on his own, while participating in band (some) and soccer and making very good grades.  So this rank was truly earned.

I thought I would take a moment to say how much I love him and cherish every single second I get to spend in his presence.  He thinks he is humoring us by watching an episode of This is Us with us, but really, I’m absorbing as much of him as I can before he moves.  And I am never happier than when we are all together with both him and his sister and brother-in-law.

(more on instagram)

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