07 February 2007

Our Nest Is Empty

On the morning of 1 November, 1968, I woke up in the bedroom I had slept in for 18 years, looked at the ceiling, and thought to myself, "when I wake up in my next 'home', some of my neighbors will be shooting at me." I would leave that day for Viet Nam.

My bags were packed.
I had decided I didn't want to lose control and cry at the airport,
so I had a friend come to our house to drive me there...

Goodbyes would be said at our home.

I picked up my bags to carry them to the car. My intent was to put the bags in the trunk, then return for hugs and kisses before driving away.

Dad mistakenly thought I was going out the door for good.
From behind me I heard him call my name in such a strange way, it was like an animal's cry...

When I turned to look at him, he was crying.
Dad wasn't the crying type.
Dad was a macho guy.
He always had trouble expressing his love, but there were enough times like these that I knew he loved me deeply.

That was a hard time, but the past week has been the most stressful of my life.
We've thought about it for years... planned it for weeks.
Our son, our only child, no longer lives in our home.

It's all happened so quickly-
He graduated, interviewed for this job, was offered the position and accepted it, all within a month.
He's never been away from home for more than a week at a time.
Now he's in his own home more than two day's drive away, and going into his empty bedroom hurts so badly, we can't stand the thought of cleaning it right now.
It can wait 'til later.

I've not had 8 hours sleep (in a night) in over a week.
I stole hours I should have been sleeping to rent the moving Van.
We packed it and drove 14 hours each of two days, then 3 hours the final day to get to Mesa, Arizona. We then unpacked the Van and began the job of unpacking boxes and constructing "easy to assemble" furniture my son had purchased for his new home.
More sleep deprivation... I "easily assembled" furniture from 8 in the morning until almost 2 A.M. for the next two days.
Yesterday we returned the Van, then flew back to this house that feels mighty empty right now.
I can't help thinking of Mom and Dad, and how strong they had to be to stand and watch their son drive off on his way to fly helicopters in a war where the news was reporting helicopters being shot down on a daily basis.

My son is safely in Mesa, Arizona, yet my heart aches.
How do parents stand sending their children off to war?

God Bless them all!

5 comments:

OlePrairiedog said...

As Hodding Carter said, " The greatest gifts we can give our children are ROOTS and WINGS". They will do better than we did.

mkquilts said...

I'm so proud of Big Bubba for being independant enough to go out and make his way in the world. I'm sure that, in time, you will adjust to the silence in the house. You may even come to enjoy the privacy. And Mesa, AZ is only a plane ride away. Please keep us posted on Big Bubba's progress in his new life.

Andrea said...

It's never easy, whether they go off to war or off on their own... the house seems "empty' and their room a space filled with memories.

Having been there myself when my only child, my daughter, left home, I can tell you that her bedroom eventually made a great "office", "den", or in our case, a "guest room". And you begin a new chapter in your lives.

Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Sounds like you've done a superb job with your young man. And offered a golden tribute to your own parents. God bless!

Andrea
Radio Patriot

cary said...

Toss me a line, Greybeard. I'll pass on my info, so your son will have a local connection in case he needs anything...

Anonymous said...

Hey, Cuz, I don't check in often, but am tres impressed with your blog. Our chick spent a summer in Phoenix. She loved the heat and the sun but never was able to be gainfully employed; she was doing an internship at the Heart Association and trying her wings. Including two car trips to AZ, a side trip to SanDiego/Tiajuana with me and a new transmission, we had to refinance the house for her little excercize. Now she is fully employed and out of the nest but only 10 min. from mommy & daddy bird. We rejoice! Becky