So, I travel to the West Coast the slow route, driving with my newly grown daughter. Talking much of the way, laughing, listening to podcasts, occasionally working out misunderstandings. We stopped here and there, staying with friends and relatives, staying in a nice hotel in Hollywood.
Now, I’ve been dropped off at the San Francisco Airport by my daughter. I watched her forest-green Toyota drive off. She’s starting a new life here, with an exciting job, a few good friends. It’s an incredible time of life that I remember very well; everything is rife with possibilities and promise.
But it’s also a difficult time. When most of us remember our youth, we think of the energy we once had, a faster metabolism, firmer skin. It’s easy to yield to nostalgia and forget what a hard time it is, too, with so many immense decisions waiting to be made — work, love, commitments.
At times like this, I always wish I were religious. But I’m not. I have to simply hope for the very best for her, knowing that my husband and I have somehow managed to bring up two wonderful, funny, smart, loving kids and feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this great gift.
Around me, one man is talking about going to Park City (Sundance, I presume). Others, at a greater distance, are speaking of Israel and Hamas. All of us, I assume, are also thinking about the inauguration tomorrow.
But, more than anything, I am thinking of that wonderful daughter I saw leave an hour ago. When you’re a parent, your hopes and dreams never get greater than that.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)