The drive to the airport is about two and a half hours. Usually, I dread it. I don’t like being in the car, especially when it means saying goodbye. But on Saturday morning it seemed to go by in a flash. At some point the conversation turned to the blind date that set my parents up for the first time and 45 cent hamburgers, weekends at a Tennessee lake and chevelle malibus. Facts like, they used a pay phone to call home when they did and it wasn’t very often, springing up like billboards.
Cruising along the highway we simultaneously cruised through the memories of their life as a young married couple, the stories of their first jobs and big moves to Ohio and finally Virginia. We coasted over golden years and hard times and hilarious moments that I had never heard before.
I liked hearing the condensed story of their life. How they came together, set off on their own, and established a grand life somewhere ordinary, somewhere somewhat unexpected. They weren’t handed the life I knew growing up on a silver platter. They cultivated it, tilled the soil, and set down roots when they were ready. They had support and love and advice, but the decisions they made were bold acts of independence, doing what they thought was best at the time.
Independence. We long for it from the time we can walk and when we finally get it it can be both exhilirating and scary. That is our ultimate goal as parents, isn’t it? To hold our children’s hands until they are brave enough and strong enough to go off on their own. And when they do, we are proud beyond measure – all the while leaving our arms outstretched to be there to push, support, or catch.
I’ve never understood why I’m so lucky. Why when I call home on a bad day and say, “I just want to come home” they don’t say, “We miss you so much. We want you to come home, too.” Instead they say, “You all made a good decision. You have a wonderful life there.” But now I do. Because they don’t want to hold us back. They want us to cultivate our own life, just like they did. And they are proud to see us doing just that.
So we will continue to work in the garden of our little life here in the spirit of independence, knowing that it’s sometimes scary…
And sometimes exhilarating…
But most importantly, always a beautiful thing. Always.