SAN DIEGO – Early last week, my youngest daughter and I walked out to her car as she departed for class at San Diego State.
It was one of those intriguing Southwest corner mornings, sunny and crisp in the mid-50s before warming to the winter weather one finds in the San Diego tourism ads.
I confess as wonderful as our winter days are (when there are no Pacific storms passing through) I felt a little chagrin when my parents told me of last week’s snow storm in Lebanon. I remember snow in Lebanon as true winter wonderlands for me.
As our morning hit us with its glory, I’m sure Sarah wasn’t thinking of the weather.
After all, she is 20 and there were way too many other things on her mind. As usual, she was a bit late to pick up a friend, and had auditions and stage manager tasks in addition to her classes and work at a dance studio.
Snow, Zoo, Responsibilities
On the other hand, I wished to be going to the zoo with her rather than chasing our responsibilities.
She backed out of the driveway and waved as she headed down the cul de sac. I was struck with the parallel of past moments.
You may recall from earlier columns, I am one of those lucky men of my generation who became a mister mom. Sarah’s delivery coincided with my navy retirement date, and I went from a military ceremony to the delivery room and then to caring for one of the two most precious results of me being around..
My daily responsibilities waned as she grew and a significant part of our day eventually became getting her to elementary school. Each weekday – except for an absurd number of days off for holidays and teacher conferences – we would walk from the bitter end of the cul de sac down to the first through street. The school bus would stop at the corner and about a dozen children would board.
The first day we took that walk, I recall having mixed emotions. Not only was I giving up a significant chunk of daily time with her, I was the only male at the bus stop and significantly older than most of the mothers there with their students. I thought I heard several whisper and snicker as Sarah and I walked by. Perhaps it was just my imagination.
Parents Letting Go
Regardless, that first day when she boarded, sat next to a window and waved back to me was one of those lonely moments we have as parents letting go.
Standing in front of the garage last week, I recalled that first day and then remembered, or thought I remembered my first day at McClain Elementary in 1950.
We only had one car at that time in our lives, and my father drove it to work at Hankins and Smith. My mother put my brother in the stroller (Joe was one), held my sister’s hand (Martha was almost 4) and we walked to Little Eskew’s on the corner of Tarver and West Main, the last intersection before the school.
My mother tells me I stopped and told her, “You don’t have to go any further. I can go my by myself.” I often wonder when I walked the last half block on my own if she felt as I did when I waved goodbye to Sarah 52 years later, but suspect she had enough on her hands with two others not to reflect for very long.
No Snow Regrets
I no longer know all of the elementary schools in Lebanon. Of course, I can locate Byars-Dowdy, named after close friends of our family, H.M. Byars, and Roy Dowdy. I also know from my occasional roaming while home, Castle Heights Elementary is on the new extension to our old homestead street. Internet services list ten elementary schools in Lebanon and 19 in Wilson County.
Obviously, there are a lot more mothers and mister moms waving goodbye each day in Lebanon nowadays compared to my first grade days. This means there were a lot more scrambling to deal with the young ones staying home due last week’s snow storm than when McClain closed due to inclement weather.
You see, I also regret Sarah never got a day off from Tiffany Elementary to play in the snow.