When your youngest kid leaves home life is never the same. It is the closing of one of life’s big chapters.
A couple of weeks ago I was unable to write because my son started to pack, preparing to leave home to go off to university in another province. I went into slow down mode, anything to delay the inevitable, I was missing him already. Well it happened on Sept 1st, he left at 7am to make a long 7hrs drive to Saskatoon. I am happy to report that he got there safely, only took 5.5 hours, although with a busted windshield, courtesy of good old Alberta rocks.
If you follow my writing you may also recall that I sacrifice a lot of sleep by getting up at 5am to drive Jo to work.
This morning my plan was to speed off to downtown Calgary as I drove Jo to work, then back, wake D, make him a BIG breakfast, have a man to man talk, slip him a few bucks, give him a big hug, say something profound, god knows there are enough inspirational quotes on Facebook, and stand in the driveway with my camera snapping lots of pictures as he drove away. I once saw that scene in a movie and as you know life imitate art.
As you know plans sometimes don’t go as you expect them to. For starters, Jo had her own plan, she love to hug and kiss. The night before she and D had a 15 minutes hugging session so I figure that is it for them. Jo is the opposite of me. She does the hands off approach with the kids; she lets them come to her when they need her, so I was sure they were finished.
I must tell you a secret about D. He has a three alarms wake up system. First his radio alarm goes off (beep beep beep), this can be up to 15 minutes before actual get up time, then his phone starts to play some annoying music, finally Jo or I go into him room, turn his lights on and make sure he sits up.
This morning Jo goes into his room and wakes him up, trying to mess up my plan, practically lifts him out of bed with a bear hug and slobbering all over the poor boy. He mumbled something to her and crashed back onto his bed. Just one alarm, no harm done I am thinking, my plans are still in place.
I rushed Jo off to work, sped back home, practically jumped out of the car while I was parking, phew. I walked into the house and D is dressed and is ready to leave. Damn, looks like he can’t wait to get out of here.
Me, ‘had breakfast?’
D, ‘yes’, I was only gone for 35 minutes.
Me, ‘what did you have?
D, ‘food’, I bet he didn’t eat, I looked in the sink, no dishes. Why was he so anxious?
This is not going really well; need to get the plan back on track. Keep in mind my goal is to slow down the inevitable. I had to think fast, he is ready to go.
Me, ‘want to do another walk through to make sure you didn’t miss anything?’
D, ‘No, if you find anything you can mail it’.
I can tell he is getting annoyed, I am sure he too was anxious.
D, ‘Big hug’
He does manual work in the summer so he is very strong, he grabs me and lay this hug on me, it hurt a little.
D, ‘I am going to miss you, although you are such a pain in the ass.’
Of course I can’t say anything; I am ready to bawl, so I resort to hand gestures.
He simply walks away, me in tow, jumps into his car and drove away. I stood here for a minute, watch the car disappear and walk back into the house staring at the ground. Felt like someone punched me in the stomach.
Silver lining…I saved myself some money.
My granddaughter in Toronto call her blanket, Blanky, K here in Calgary calls hers a Buc and I have ‘da couch’ so that’s where I went to reflect on D.
The boy was born not that long ago, where did the time go?
At an early age he showed signs of having a curious mind, we nicknamed him ‘Engineer’, wishful thinking at the time, seems like he was listening.
Jo and I went in Toronto last week and before we left Calgary we went shopping for groceries so he can practise cooking. Didn’t happen, he ate out; I hope he does not think that life will be like that, he has very limited resources.
He is just not ready to leave home.
D was very young when he showed interest in soccer. He hates losing. During the competitive soccer years we moved around from club to club quite a bit, often times I would place him on ‘not so likely to win’ teams to teach him humility. I forgot to notify him of my intentions. He was the kind of player you did not want to play against, he is rough and mean on the field, taking on the tough players on the other teams and would be the player to get the goal when it was needed. He was fun to watch.
As is the case with his age group, he is technology savvy, has had a computer since he was 5 or 6. He can also fix his own car, worked at Wal-Mart auto center and Minit Lube after taking some mechanic courses in high school. He likes money and is prepared to work for it. His first job was at the Hangar in Toronto operating the scoreboard for winter indoor soccer. I think he was 13 and making about $12/hr. He did that for a couple of winters and spent all his money on Nintendo games. It was also a job for me as I would spent 4 or 5 nights at the facility waiting for him, good thing I love soccer.
He has spent the last 3 years building and maintaining a golf course in Calgary.
Moving to Alberta has provided him with some experiences that he probably would not have been exposed to in Toronto, simply through association, like guns. He has become interested in guns. He will be going to Manitoba with his roommate for the long weekend to hunt. He claims he is hunting for his winter food. I think they are just going target practise. His friend lives on a farm.
Golf is probably the most played sport in Calgary so he plays 4 or 5 times a week. He has done sky diving, mountain biking, he skateboard very well. He only plays soccer casually with his friends, which is a little disappointing.
When we first moved to Calgary, he was not very happy. I thought I was going to lose my son. He would spend most of his days in his room sleeping; sometimes he would come out and skateboard for hours. That was his life. We came to Calgary at the end of June so he had no time to make school friends. Down the street from us there are two black families. Both have boys D’s age. It took a couple of weeks but he did connect with them. One of the boys got jealous that the other boy was spending too much time with D so he stopped talking to him and got his friend to do the same. So by the end of July he was back to being alone. It was pathetic.
At 20, D is quite the young man; handsome, well mannered, has lots of friends and loves life. We will miss having him around; I will be seeing him at Christmas and maybe thanksgiving.
I am so proud of him; I think maybe I should tell him.
Thinking about D reminds me of my good bye with my dad when I left St Kitts. I grew up quite privileged with lots of love, not unlike my kids. I had been working for a couple of years before leaving St Kitts, so I had saved some money. I applied to come to Canada without telling my dad although I am sure I told my mom. My dad was very protective, damn sounds like me, he would have tried to talk me out of it. It was only after I had received my visa that I informed him.
I recall my ‘d day’ very well. I was having breakfast when my dad came by and ask me to come see him when I was finished.
I was expecting a lecture. The following may not be verbatim but close enough.
Dad: ‘how much did you pay for the plane ticket?’
Me: $999, (i don’t remember the amount, sounds like a good number for this purpose).
I am thinking great, he was going to refund me, more money to spend.
Dad: ‘how much money you have in your pocket?’
Me: $999, (not correct either, that number I remember very well but I won’t say, it was embarrassing).
Getting closer, I was getting excited, more money.
Dad: ‘so what do you plan to do when you get to Canada?’
Me: ‘Going to school’.
That is what he wanted to hear, here comes the money for sure, he had his hands in his pocket, a good sign.
Dad: ‘when you finish school you come home and i’ll give you all your money back’
Bummer, he went on to tell me what I great life I could have in St Kitts and how we could expand the business, he would get me started, provide me with everything I wanted. He was quite sincere. My life got in the way.
We did the bear hug thing, shook shake and then said good bye. A friend drove me to the airport.
That was the last conversation I had with my dad in person, almost 40 years ago.
Thank you Dad for everything you have ever done for me, you would be proud to know that I raised my kids the way you raised me, except for the BELT part.
The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.
PS, So you know Dad, I kept some of my old bad selfish habits, I still hide mangoes from my family and eat some of the plantain as I fry them, that way I get the most, I think it is important to maintain some of your history.