Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Really, Truly, Empty Nest, Part 1: Crying Over an Old Blanket

After school on Tuesday, we drove to Utah to move my lastborn son into his dormitory at Brigham Young University. Once he was moved in, he was off to play with his roommates without even so much as an "okay, bye." We had to hunt him down in his dorm room to get our good-bye hugs.

Please don't misinterpret me. I’m not complaining at all. It looks like we did it right again. We may actually go five for five on raising our kids right.

We picked up our youngest daughter at the SLC airport on Wednesday night (from AZ, visiting a friend) and took her back to the airport on Thursday morning (to NC, visiting mission friends). Then we got onto I-80 and drove back to Colorado by ourselves, and we've been kind of in a daze since we got home. There are no kids here to worry about! For the first time in 30 years!

Emotions are kind of confusing right now. We're mostly numb. My sweet wife got teary on the way to the airport Thursday morning, about something only tangentially related to the empty nest. She thought it was silly. I don't know what my daughter thought. I thought, "I'm sure lucky to be married to this woman."

I got teary on Saturday morning. Wanna know what caused it? I know it's because of the empty nest, but that's not what caused it. It's even sillier than whatever caused Mama to cry. (No, this isn't a contest. I'm just being honest.)

Before we got married, my fiancée made a quilt for me. It had mountains all over it. It was gorgeous. I loved it. I used it until we got married.

My firstborn son appropriated that quilt at some point in his childhood, and it stayed on his bed until he left for the Air Force Academy. Then my lastborn son appropriated it, and it stayed on his bed until he left for BYU. I ended up sharing that quilt with my sons for 30 years.

There was magic in that quilt. Remember how it had mountains all over it? Well, by sharing the quilt with my sons, I also shared my love of the mountains with them. And as surely as the colors in the quilt faded over the years, my sons absorbed that love of the mountains and made it their own.

Yesterday, Saturday morning, I was staring at that quilt sitting in the laundry basket where my lastborn had deposited it, and I realized that, faded and flattened though it might be, it was mine again. I thought about the fact that I had loaned one of my most precious possessions to my sons for 30 years, and never resented a minute of it. I would rather have shared it the way I did, than kept it and preserved it and never passed on that part of me to them.

And although it sounds silly now, that's the thought that made my tears start to flow.

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