Tonight my heart is heavy as I lay in bed thinking of my sister and the transition her life will take in the morning. Tomorrow my sister’s only child is leaving for college. For the first time in almost 19 years he will have an address that is different than that of his parents. He will no longer be sleeping a short 20 feet from his mom and dad; instead he will be sleeping in his own apartment many miles away. The late night requests of, “Mom, would you cook me some. . .” are over (at least on a daily basis). The house will be quiet, his room will remain clean, and plates will stop magically appearing on the kitchen counter after everyone has gone to bed.
Isn’t it amazing how days seem to creep by while years seem to sprout wings and fly away. It seems as if it were just yesterday that we were sitting in the waiting room of the hospital waiting for my nephew to be born. Thad was already adored by the time he arrived in the world in October 1990. Too soon he transformed into the cutest tow-haired little boy you could imagine. My oldest son, Trey, was born six days before Thad’s first birthday. My sister and I made sure our boys spent a lot of time together when they were small. I remember many times when Thad would take Trey’s pacifier away and suck it himself. They played switch the pacifier a lot during that first year. If they weren’t sharing them with each other they were sharing them with Mags, our dog. They played together and fought with each other, but most of all loved each other. They climbed up hills of Georgia red clay that refused to wash out of their clothes, they had mud battles that left them looking like swamp monsters, and built way too many forts to count.
My favorite memory is from a visit Trey and I made to spend the day with my sister and nephew. We did this pretty often (at least once a week). This particular day was in the fall of 1991. Thad had just turned one and Trey could only have been a few weeks old. Thad and I played in their backyard running and jumping in freshly fallen piles of leaves all day. We had a wonderful time together. The air was filled with the squeals of joy, laughter, and love.
The day came to an end much too soon. As I loaded Trey into the car Thad began to cry for his Yah, Yah (me). It brings tears to my eyes as I recall it now. I still have a vivid picture of my sister holding that beautiful tow-haired boy wearing a pair of red corduroy overalls and a white turtleneck. He was sobbing as I drove away. When I arrived home I called my sister and she said he cried himself to sleep and had continued to sob after he fell sleep. It broke my heart to see him cry as I drove away that day.
I am filled with pride at the young man he has become but at the same time my heart is breaking because time slipped away far too soon. Oh, how I would love to spend one more autumn day playing in the leaves with that little boy, to see him clad in a cowboy hat and boots holding a guitar and singing one of his country songs while wearing only his underwear. He was, afterall, the first naked cowboy.
Tomorrow will be filled with many tears for my sister. I pray that God will surround her, give her the strength needed for the day, and give her peace knowing that she has been a great mother and has adequately prepared her son for the adventures that life has in store for him.