Thursday, June 2, 2011

Goodbye for Now

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.


Marilyn said...

What a lovely tribute. I send best wishes for his new adventure.

Wendy D. said...

Wow. I think many parents will relate to your tribute. Thanks for putting feelings into words.

Bella Rum said...

It is so gratifying when they grow into nice and responsible adults, isn't it? They just need a little time. Very touching post.

Bree said...

Oh this is beautiful. He is a lucky man to have such parents.

Sharon said...

This is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Linda said...

Beautiful post! It really is nice for them to grow up.... and one day they will reproduce and it gets even better!

anno said...

Oh, yes! So proud of their achievements, so happy for the opportunities in front of them, maybe even happy for the new opportunities in our own lives, yet... such an ache their departure leaves. Great post, Jeanie. And best wishes to Kevin -- crossing my fingers that the internship leads to all he hopes for...

Anonymous said...

Oh Jeanie, I wasn't going to cry! Thanks for this beautiful tribute to Kevin. Yes, he did indeed grow up, tho' sometimes I still think of him as that cutie-pie 4 year old. Kevin doesn't know how lucky he is to have you in his life. I appreciate the unconditional love you have given both Greg and Kevin for the past 15+ years. Good don't have to wait until December to see him; I'm going to fly him home for Thanksgiving! Thanks again for being such a great person. Thanks also to Rick for forwarding this link to me! All the best to you! Robin

Nathalie Thompson said...

You had me at Mackinac Island fudge! I can smell the shops now... drool, drool.

What a super young man Kevin has become. I hope he gets that job in Atlanta!

Retired English Teacher said...

Kevin is awesome. I can only imagine how much you will miss him. He seems so well rounded, and just an all around great guy. You've all done a great job in getting to this point. I wish him only the very best for the future.

Your post was a fitting, poignant, and priceless tribute to your boy.

Joanne Huffman said...

The family love in this post made me teary eyed.

Jennifer Richardson said...

I love the love here
...such a beautiful tribute
to a beautiful journey.
My heart shares your aches.
Honored to see and share,

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What a sweet post! Just as you are lucky to have him in your life, he is so lucky to have you & Rick! I love that picture of Rick, by the way. Such a beautiful picture that captures an emotional moment!

Growing up is bittersweet in many ways. I feel that way about my younger sister. She is 7 years younger than me and i tried to 'mother' her for much of her life. Then I blinked and she grew up into this competent, capable, fabulous adult! Which is wonderful, but it also makes you think - where did the years go?

Relyn said...

It seems to me that Kevin has turned into quite a wonderful young man. I know that he must be as happy to share his life with you as you are to share with him.

Ragamuffin Gal said...

This is such a sweet sweet post ~ it is an awesome grace that we get to see these young ones grow up and come into their own. Looks like you have made a life time of memories for him. I wish him all the best! Blessings to you and thanks for having such a kind and caring heart.

Vagabonde said...

This is such a sweet post. I understand how hard it is to see our loved ones go far away. Our eldest daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and we miss her a lot. I also understand now how my mother and father felt when I left my country to come to the US – I had told them though that it would only be for two years. At least Kevin is still in this country but I know how hard it is. I hope everything will go smoothly for him here.

Arti said...

What a beautiful family you have Jeanie, thank you for sharing all the pictures. You words I definitely can relate since I sent my son, a single child, off to college four years ago. I'll be leaving town next week to attend his convocation! He'll be back home for a couple of summer months, then off again in Sept. to continue on to professional school away in another province. Come and go, that's the new normal we've been living with... your post has brought me mixed feelings indeed.

All the best to Kevin!

Ruth said...

Oh Jeanie. What a cool thing to do, to go down through this litany of memories, the things that make up the role he has in your family. It's beautiful.

And I am bawling because I said good-bye to my boy and his girlfriend last night. They are moving to L.A. today. :|

Anonymous said...

A lovely piece for a wonderful young man, Jeanie. I know it is bitter/sweet to see him go.
My son moved to LA almost two years ago. I cried, though I was very happy to see him off on his adventure! I talk with him almost every day, so it doesn't feel quite so far away.....
Well, it gives you a good reason to take a trip to Georgia!!

~*~Patty S said...

such sweet memories
thanks for sharing!
word verification: "moony" :)

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