Over 37 years ago my parents stood in a tiny room in the back of a church with my wife-to-be just minutes before she was to walk down the aisle to join me in saying “I do.” It was a joyful moment of pre-marital bliss, for my wife-to-be, that is.
My mother and father invested those minutes in hugging each other and blubbering like children who had just been told the family dog had been run over.
To say this was disconcerting to my bride-to-be only scratches the surface. She has a sense of humor about it now, but at the time she wasn’t sure their tear-stricken outburst wasn’t a reflection of their low esteem for her suitability to marry their son.
Of course, it was nothing of the sort. As she could tell ever since then by their great affection, it had nothing to do with her specifically. It only had to do with her generally, in the sense that at that moment a wave of emotion was washing over my parents like a tsunami, only in reverse.
First was the tidal wave of finality that their youngest boy was beginning a new phase of life that would permanently launch him from childhood to adulthood. This was followed by a vast sandy shore stretching out in front of them as the water receded, leaving a barren landscape as a metaphor for a barren home whose last son was no longer a resident.
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