My 16 year old daughter picked me up at work last night. We’re a family with three drivers (now that Allie has her license) and only two vehicles. I know we’ll be buying her a new car next year before she goes off to college but for the time being, to save several hundred dollars a month, getting dropped off and picked up from work is an inconvenience I can live with. She picked me up and on the short 7 minute drive home, she vented all the way home, complaining about her brother doing this and that and mother being this way and that way and she ended her rant by saying, “This is why I want to move 9 hours away.” It made me a little sad to hear her say these words but I remember like it was yesterday feeling this exact same way. I didn’t have a younger brother. My brother and sister were older and I was the baby of the family but for a number of reasons, I couldn’t wait to leave the nest. Honestly, I don’t remember what they were other than wanting to get out of a small town and just to be on my own and to be responsible for myself.
Several years passed and I found myself living alone in Houston, still a kid in my early 20’s, in the police academy, living in an efficiency apartment with very very few furnishings, and although I had plenty of friends to hang out with, I found myself feeling very lonely and missing my brother, my sister, and my parents. I was on my own and rather than wanting to be on my own, I wanted family around me. My brother Robert came to visit me and he had been there two days and he had to go back to Corpus Christi. It was a Friday and we were sitting at the pool and I told him, “Why don’t you stay the weekend?” I didn’t have to be at the academy and it was two more days for us to hang out together. He made a phone call and it turned out he had to get back. He left and I remember like it was yesterday. I went back into my tiny apartment and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I had missed my brother, my whole family for that matter and I would have done anything to hang out with him for just two more days. It was crazy that I was feeling that way. No one had died. No one had moved to the other side of the world or to another continent.
Looking back, I know that was a transition point in my life. After spending that day in my apartment, lonely and missing family, I went back with my normal schedule of friends, dates, etc. I have never felt that way since. When I left home after high school, I came to a town where there was a sister, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I had family close to fill the void of missing parents and being that my brother had been off at college, I was used to him not being around. Now, I was an adult and finally on my own. I’m in my 40’s now and my oldest child can’t wait to get out from under my roof. She can’t wait to leave home, get away from her siblings, and to be independent. She’s going to go through what I went through and she’s going to go through it much earlier in her life than I did, I think.
Allie was a beautiful little girl and now she’s a beautiful young lady. Her mother and I sat in bed last night talking about how she was always such a good child and now that she’s a teen, how she’s responsible and considerate. I don’t worry about her. She’ll be successful and whatever man earns her heart will be fortunate beyond his understanding. What I know for sure is that the sadness that I felt when my brother drove away from my apartment complex in North Houston will pale in comparison to how I will feel when Allie drives away after high school.