Submitted into Contest #53 in response to: Write a story about a teenager spending their final days at home before going away to college.... view prompt

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After promising myself over and over that I wouldn’t cry through this whole traumatic thing, I finally let it flow last night. Reality is something I can usually face with my faith in God and a stiff upper lip. But this is different. In two weeks my son, Timmy is leaving for college 3000 miles away. After 17 years of his being so much a part of me and his dad and his two brothers and sister, it will be difficult to let him go. ‘It won’t be long’ until we have to say our goodbyes. 

When my four children were little, Ronnie-four, Timmy-three, Missy-two and Joey-one, I remember being so exhausted with taking care of them, I would complain to my oldest sister. She, amazingly, had more than double the children I had. She told me to enjoy every minute with these little ones because ‘ won’t be long’ until they’re grown.

I had the enjoyment of teaching Timmy to tie his shoes, recite the alphabet and write a little neater. Then there were fractions and exploring our country’s history. We practiced and worked at it and ‘ wasn’t long..’before he mastered these things.

He tried his hardest to explain geometry and computers to me without much luck.  I have gone from praying he doesn’t get hurt on his first bike to his praying I would stop being a back-seat driver in his first car. I used to pick him up so he could reach the cookie jar and now he can reach the top shelf to get me something I can’t reach. Funny how the tables of life keep turning. ‘It wasn’t long!’

I remember when Timmy reluctantly started the first grade. I could see the strain of the impending separation on his face. When I dropped him off at school, I would put my arm around him and say, “Remember Timmy, this is only until 3 o’clock. It won’t be long!” He would nod his head, curl his lip and wipe his big, blue, watery eyes.

When we had a death in the family and my husband and I had to fly back to the funeral, my sister drove us to the airport. She was kind enough to offer to take the kids for a few days. As we were unloading our luggage from the car, Timmy leaned on me and said he was going to miss me. I said it was something we had to do and ‘It won’t be long!’.

One spring we were all excited. We were planning our summer vacation. We had the Atlas out and all kinds of maps. The six of us sat around the table looking at pictures of different places. We couldn’t decide on a cross-country trip, a week at the beach or visiting our relatives. We worked on it awhile and would put it away to be taken out another night. Time after time, Timmy kept asking, “Mom, let’s get the maps out again. We have to find out where we’re going for our trip!” We finally decided on Florida and Disney World. For the next two months, Timmy asked at least four times a week. “How much longer, Mom?” And, of course, I would answer, “It won’t be long!”

One year, three of the kids came down with chicken pox. Timmy had been spared. Everyday we would put the three little scabby ones into an oatmeal bath which our doctor had recommended to combat the terrible itch. They would play for an hour in the muck laughing and having a good time forgetting about why they were soaking for so long. The doctor told us to keep Timmy away from them to try and spare him the agony of this annoying disease.  He would hear his two brothers and sister splashing and hollering in the tub. He would sit outside the bathroom door with his knees up and his hands under his chin. I told him not to be so sad. Soon he would be with them and play together again. I said, “It won’t be long!”

Timmy’s favorite meal was pork chops and baked beans. I tried to make each of the kids’ favorites at least once a month. When it was his night, he told everyone that it was ‘pork chop’ night. He would ask me all day, “ soon will you start dinner, Mom?” I answered with my usual reply, “ won’t be long!”

When our four kids were teenagers, we sat them down and announced the good news that they were going to have a new brother or sister. They were happy and excited and had lots of questions; “....will it be a boy or girl? ...what will we name him or her? Who do you think they will look like? Will they weigh more or less than we did?...” For the next seven months Timmy asked every day, “..when, Mom, when??” I told him over and over, “It won’t be long!”

The days flew by and the morning we were dreading came too fast. As we were waiting for the plane, Timmy put his arm around me. I was trying to hold back the tears that were welling up in my eyes. He said, “Remember Mom, this is only for a few months and then I’ll be home for the holidays! It won’t be long!” 

Dear God, why must parents suffer so much? All those years of responsibility and caring and then, what seems overnight, they’re on their own. I try to rationalize and tell myself he is getting an education unlike what I had and he’s getting it in beautiful California. I thank the Lord that he is happy and not going off to war or worse. I have to remember that it’s only until Christmas and I will have my son back----just for awhile! ‘It won’t be long!’

 Today, more than 40 years after that first parting, Tim owns his own company and has a beautiful family in Texas. Every time he visits or we visit, and there’s the pain of parting, he puts his arm around me and says, “It won’t be long, Mom!”

August 01, 2020 18:43

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1 comment

Stacey Fultz
23:58 Aug 12, 2020

I enjoyed this story a lot. As momma bear to a 16-year-old son, I was able to feel the story. Great job.


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