Go, my children, with my blessing
By Rev. Sherri L. Sandoz, Bethel Lutheran Church of Lester Prairie
When our son, Eric, was a young child, he had a favorite bedtime companion by the name of Winnie the Pooh.
When you squeezed Pooh’s heart, he would sing his Pooh song. Countless times over the years, Pooh brought comfort to our son through that song.
One morning, just four days after Eric’s eighth birthday, we discovered Pooh’s song sounded slow and funny and oh-so-old.
“Mom, what’s wrong with Winnie?” asked Eric.
I replied, “Winnie is getting too old to sing anymore.”
Together, we remembered all the nights Pooh sang his happy song. Eric clutched Winnie and took him down to breakfast.
A few minutes later, as I sat on the floor folding the scarf I would wear that day, Eric laid down beside me. It took a while for me to realize that he was softly crying.
I asked him if he was sad because he was missing the old Pooh. He nodded and began to cry openly.
I held him close and said, “Pooh has been your friend since you were a baby and will always be your friend. You will always have memories of his happy song.”
Eric disappeared into his room and emerged a little while later with his coat and school bag. With the morning rush upon us, it was hugs and kisses and off to catch the school bus.
A short while later, I walked into the boys’ room, for what reason I cannot remember. There, on Eric’s pillow, was Pooh, completely shrouded neatly and securely in Eric’s baby blanket the one I cross-stitched for him during my pregnancy.
I sat on the bed and wept openly one of those sad, silly things mothers do from time-to-time. My little boy said good-bye to a dear friend, and I became painfully aware of his swiftly passing childhood. He and I both went through passages that day.
My husband, Jim, and I have since been through many passages with our sons as they bade fond, if sad, farewells to the objects of their security: Winnie the Pooh, and Sherman and Dunstan, beloved Cabbage Patch kids.
Then, it was good-bye to their imaginary friends, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fame. Likewise, they bade farewell to the Power Rangers, X-Men, and WalkerTexas Ranger (but not before Eric cracked our antique grand piano leg with a well-placed karate kick).
There were sad farewells to real, live friends, too. Our good old dog, Ben, died, and soon afterwards, Eric’s favorite fish jumped out of the aquarium.
There were sad farewells to boyhood playmates when we made the move to Lester Prairie, and even sadder good-byes to Grandpa Bill and Grandma Irene.
Too soon, our sons outgrew their childhood dreams of fame with the Timberwolves, Vikings, and Twins. And I cried with them both at the loss of first loves.
Now, on the opposite end of child rearing, we recently watched our youngest son, Patrick, graduate from high school. Shrouded in maroon and gold, Patrick has emerged into a bright new beginning as he prepares to move outward and onward to college in the fall.
Still crying those sad, silly tears moms cry, I wouldn’t have it any other way even if I can hear the sweet happy songs of toddlers as though it was yesterday.
Passages indeed. It is the end of an era for us as parents, but we couldn’t be more proud of the fine, God-fearing young men our sons have become.
And I am reminded that these two strapping guys are children of God. They were lent to us for only a short time to raise. It is now time to (can I really say it?) let loose and turn them over to God’s constant, yet careful work in their lives.
Today is a sad/happy day. I’m incredibly sad to have our “every-dayness” come to an end, but I’m happy, too. I’m happy that Patrick is ready to move on.
And I’ve heard a rumor that empty nests have advantages. But more on that later.