The August heat will target the last green plant in my “Tom Thumb garden” and bring to a close another summer of growth. The August calendar will partner with nostalgia and make a strange duo of joy and sadness that will visit a lot of families. August will find high school grads packing their clothes, lap tops, and microwaves to leave for college. Dads will wrestle with tuition loads and college budgets while mothers will struggle with empty bedrooms and a void around the kitchen table.
The day of Tahya's departure is still easily retrievable. Mississippi College seemed a continent away from her Etta hill and high school friends. The closer Highway 55 carried us to the campus, the heavier our hearts felt. I chided myself for the nostalgia! God had blessed our family to reach this milestone. Many would not have similar opportunities so I put on my smiling game face, hoping it would camouflage my aching heart.
It was the change I dreaded – the vacant bedroom across the hall, her car far from it its spot in the carport, the absence of her perfume lingering in the bathroom, and the end to sweaty workout clothes in the laundry room. Yes, bravo for college opportunities, but college would change our lives forever.
Eli's departure to Ole Miss would be easier. That's what I told myself as I began bracing for the day months ahead. Ole Miss was just a few miles down Highway 30. He would be busy with football, but he could be home much quicker and more often than Tahya. It was the distance that would make the difference.
Wrong! When his vehicle pulled out of our driveway and took a left on Highway 30, our family was changed again forever. The university paid for his education in return for his football skills, and the next five years of his life.
Othel and I found brief time slots to visit with him, and there were respites of Grove-time fun after ball-games. However, we could never take him home with us. I circled holidays on the calendar, but a bowl game would terminate the usual Christmas break most college kids enjoyed. Sometimes the smiles of his college days would turn to a smirk when I realized that change didn't always come wrapped in ribbons and glitter. It was that duo of joy and sadness that accompanied our children's college days.
The same “change visitor” has arrived for a repeat performance. Grandson Carson is about to end his summer job and enroll in college. The duo is joining our ranks again, but years and experience have found my Lord faithful in His steadfast love that never changes. He tells us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. It's that distance that will make the difference.