Hang on loosely, but don’t let go…


Over the course of eighteen years, from time to time,  I’ve asked my son, “Do you know how blessed you are?” His usual response to me would have been a small head shake or the glossing over of his eyes, as he anticipated the oncoming lecture from me. But very late Saturday night, when his father and I returned home from our South Carolina excursion, he said,  “I’ve finally figured out what you’ve been saying to me all these years…” “Huh?” I asked, not sure where he was going with this line. “You’ve been right all along, I am very blessed…” and then proceeded to give me a monster hug–that also served to crack my back, in the process.

As alluded to in a previous blog, my son attended a Kairos Retreat with his high school class last week and was mad with me for not coming up with an excuse to keep him home. “This is a requirement for graduation,” I began, “Perhaps you might come away a changed person–one ready to attend college–not just academically,” I argued. He complained he would be losing three days of learning, in lieu of being “Indoctrinated” into our crazy religion. So when he met us at the door, excited to see us and fill us in on what he DID learn and how thankful he was for the opportunity of self discovery, my heart felt very full and of course vindicated for being right.

Of course, Friday night, he called when his father and I were on our way to dinner and gushed over and over how much he loved us. “Is this due to the retreat or because we’re not there?” I asked him, laughing into the receiver. “Both… no but honestly, thank you for making me attend…” He said and then filled me with small glimpses of the retreat… “One time I got up and did a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Ramble on for the class…” “Dear God…” I said into the receiver. “Yes, when I finished, several classmates told me I should become a comedian…” He laughed into the phone. “Oh and mom, there was so much food there…except, on Thursday morning we came down to breakfast and there was this huge bowl filled with sausage… So I filled my bowl with like twelve links, smothered them maple syrup and then discovered they were horrible. I mean I ate about six of the links to make sure I hadn’t picked up a lone horrible one, but no. The disappointment was palpable…” He finished.

“Of course he’s talking about  food here…” I thought and worried for a moment he would use this experience as an allegory for the rest of his retreat. But then he said, “But the rest of the food was great. I think I gained ten pounds–easy. “Whew!” I thought to myself and the listened as he recalled more of the retreat…

“I want you to know, my sweat shirt coat is now made up of more tears than fabric…” He said. “What?”  I replied a little alarmed. “Because many of my classmates cried in my arms and shoulders. I simply wrapped them up in big old bear hugs when they were struggling and held them while they cried,” He said, pride coming through voice. “Bay, that’s always been your self appointed job,” I replied and he agreed. Then he quickly changed subjects, “That bastard Dad, made me cry too…pulling out the old school typewriter to write me a letter…” he said with a laugh. “Well, I’ll let you talk with your dad about that,” I said laughing.”But Mom, when you get home, I want you to know, I wrote you a letter one one piece of paper, then on the other side, I wrote one for dad too…” He said. “What, they didn’t offer you more than one piece of paper?” I asked in a sarcastic tone. “Eh… you know me, Mr. Minimal…you’ve been calling me that for years…” “True,” I replied and smiled.  Beginning to wrap up our conversation, I reaffirmed how much his father and I loved him and were sad we missed his homecoming. “Tomorrow night, okay?” I asked. “Tomorrow….” He replied before we disconnected the phone.

After his massive hugs, he handed me his love letter to me, which makes me smile. I guess I’ve been a good influence after all… 



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