Thursday, August 23, 2012
Another one to college
It’s quieter around the house this week.
There aren’t as many dirty clothes to wash.
Pam doesn’t have to cook as much per meal – just for three now.
Last Friday morning, we moved our son Andy into his dorm room at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. We now have two children at USM – four and a half hours away – with daughter Emma being a senior.
It was tough when Emma left for college – maybe tougher on Dad.
It was tough when Andy left for college – maybe tougher on Mom.
And this latest move was particularly hard on our fifth grader Erin, too. She and her big brother have spent a lot of time together the past three years – in Emma’s absence.
I will never forget when we left Emma at USM for the first time – saying goodbye, the huge hug and the watery eyes. As I drove away, my heart was hurting. But at the same time, I was confident in Emma and confident she was in the right place.
Three years later I could not be more proud. She has poured herself into her classes and extracurricular activities at Southern Miss. She loves the school. Her college experience has been wonderful. She will complete her degree in sociology in May 2013 and then comes graduate school at an undecided location.
And so Andy goes south, following in her footsteps, but charting his own path. I’m equally confident in his talents. No doubt, he will excel in his major, coaching sports education.
Erin, who stayed with a friend Thursday and Friday, said her goodbyes to her brother at home. She cried. We all cried.
Thursday night, we had a nice dinner in Hattiesburg – our family, Andy’s girlfriend and her parents.
His move-in time was Friday at 8 a.m. We checked the weather radar. Heavy showers were nearing the campus. We got there at 8 a.m., moved the last of his stuff to his second-floor room and then it came a downpour.
We moved the furniture around, got all his things put up and went to see Emma in her gold jacket. She was working with Southern Style, a group of students who serve as orientation leaders and hosts for university events.
We then made a quick trip to purchase a few more items Andy needed for the room.
We had planned to leave around noon heading back to Holly Springs. We stretched that to about 1:15 p.m.
Andy walked with us to the car. I hugged him first and told him, “I love you and I’m proud of you.” Then I quickly went to the driver’s side, feeling the tears form.
Pam followed with a hug and her own special words of love, advice and encouragement. Tears came naturally.
The ride home was quiet at first. We reminisced a lot.
Later, while Pam drove, I was texting my two older sisters.
One wrote – “Hard to believe. How quickly time passes.”
Another wrote – “I can’t believe how old the kids are. I know it was hard to leave.”
I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, and I can tell you, it has gotten even tougher since we returned home.
There’s another empty bedroom.
But most of all, our children are great blessings. And maybe our late-in-life, surprise child will help keep us young.
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