We stood at the counter of a fudge store on Mackinac Island, the fragrance of chocolate and peanut butter swirling around the glass window where it felt warm, the warmth of late summer. My cousin was sending fudge to her son who had just left home for college. When the clerk asked for the address, she burst into tears. Ten years later, that memory is as powerful and sensual as it was that very day.
When Kevin, Rick's youngest, left for college, there was a sad excitement, but not a lot of tears. He was going far from home, but like many teens, his high school years hadn't exactly been those of bonding.
Kevin was a football player and in high school he took on the stereotypical characteristics of the high school football player/popular kid. Our conversations and questions tended to get replies like "whatever," "huh?" and "Why do you want to know?" When he left to take his football scholarship, it wasn't like we were losing our great hang-out pal. Which in some ways, made it sad in its own way.
Two years later, injured and unable to play football, he transferred to MSU and we started to see more of him. I think that time away was good for him. It turned him into an adult. He may have still thought we were nerdy, but at least he was beginning to "get it." And "It" was everything from understanding life as an adult to work ethic to realizing his dad sort of knew something.
No, more than that -- it turned him into a downright terrific young man.
This week Kevin left for a six-month internship in Atlanta. The company he is working for has a reputation for hiring its interns, and he hopes that will be a job option after he finishes his final semester to graduate a year from now.
We'll miss the Kevin he is now. A lot! And we'll miss his girlfriend Molly, who is moving north to continue school at Central Michigan University -- not far, but not "regular."
But I think one of the things we miss most is that because Kevin is a grown up now, he isn't this guy, who wanted a beige stuffed puppy more than he almost express. It was the happiest Christmas gift Rick ever gave him.
We've watched him grow up in every way -- good times and challenging. And we'll miss all of him.
We'll miss this little guy -- enamored by his first fish, both reluctant and relieved to toss him back.
We'll miss this guy -- always first with a joke as he was this day, dining at Frankenmuth, Black Jack gum on his teeth.
We'll miss this one, too -- the kid who volunteered at WKAR's Auction.
And the one who loved Harry Potter.
I'll miss Cookie Boy -- although, some things never change and we'll see Cookie Boy in December. (It's always a little scary how much frosting that kid can put on a cookie!)
We'll miss this one who always wanted to light the candles -- and still does.
And it was nice to have someone who actually wanted to row the boat ashore -- or beg to mow the lawn (I wish I had a photo of that; I wrote a poem about it, as he pushed this mower almost as tall as he was! Even now, he'll work harder than anyone I know to earn some cash!)
We'll miss the vacation we took to North Carolina when he was a kid -- everything was new!
And we'll miss having a taste-tester to check out the gooey string of the roast at Christmas. (Hopefully he'll be back for that one!)
I'll miss his hugs!
And come Father's Day, we won't be able to come up with a 2011 version of this family favorite.
Every now and then there's still a time close to this one -- though now they can't fit on the sofa together! Those talks take place at the kitchen table or on the patio. But they happen and they are good, frequent. Nice.
We know Kevin isn't "rowing" off into the sunset forever, that he'll be back in December for another six months before graduation -- then who knows? This is a practice run for the future. And it both fills us with joy and makes us sad indeed.
Keep in touch, Kev.
We'll miss you. We already do.