Last week, I hosted a writing contest in conjunction with Kate Hopper and her book, Use Your Words. I am excited to share with you the winning entry! Lisbeth Thom! Lisbeth’s essay now goes on to compete with all the other Book Tour winners for a chance to be featured on Literarymama.com.
Here is a little more about Lisbeth and her essay below.
Lisbeth Thom is married, with two daughters and one son and nine grandchildren. A summa cum laude graduate of Georgia State University, She often writes about family. She is the author of one novel, Row Away From the Rocks, published by New South Books of Montgomery, Alabama, and one book of poetry entitled Echoes, which she co-wrote with her granddaughter, Rachel Nelson. She is currently working on a second novel entitled Tessa and Claudine. Check out her blog on my website at www.lisbeththom.com
Goodbye My Son
My college-bound son, Mark, strides down the stairs carrying a large box of albums: The Police, REM, U-2, Violent Femmes, even a George Winston or two. I watch as he places the box on his metal footlocker sitting next to his tired-looking basketball whose bounce in the driveway has become as familiar as the hum of the refrigerator.
He rearranges his belongings, leaving a narrow path to the front door, turns to me and says, “Can we leave early in the morning. Six maybe?” He gives me a wide crazy grin.
“Sure,” I say. I swallow hard trying to dislodge the growing lump in my throat as I head to the kitchen. There is no doubt my son is raring to face the world. He has such high goals: a large university, aerospace engineering, basketball. I have every reason to be proud. However, I have such mixed emotions. I know it’s time to let go, and yet I want to reach out and hold him close.
When Mark comes into the kitchen, I wipe away the tears that edge down my cheek. I’m baking brownies for him to take along. Mark sticks his finger into the bowl, takes a glob of dough and then licks it off. “I’m going over to Eric’s,” he says. “Be back soon.” He darts out the front door.
Where have the last eighteen years gone? It seems like yesterday that the pediatrician said, “These large babies like to eat often.” Mark arrived nine days early and weighed in at ten pounds. The nurses let me hold his warm body briefly then whisked him away.
The doctor said, “Good job,” and left.
I spent four more hours lying on the hard delivery table, hemorrhaging. I kept asking for another blanket when a nurse appeared in the cold room. Feeling weak, and afraid I wouldn’t live to see my son again, I cried out for my husband. No one heard me.
Finally, an unfamiliar doctor opened the door of the room. “What’s going on in here?” he shouted.
“She’s been bleeding for hours,” a nurse said. “We can’t reach her doctor.”
“Start a blood transfusion, now,” he said. I whispered thank you.
I soon began nursing my baby every two hours all day and night, often fighting to stay awake. Those months of happy exhaustion seemed endless, but where did they go?
I pour the brownie dough into the greased pan. I was making brownies the day many years ago when Mark’s dad came home from work. Mark’s older sister presented him a picture she’d drawn. Mark, a toddler at the time, quickly grabbed a pencil and scribbled a few lines on a piece of paper. He handed it to his dad with a big grin. “Thanks, his Dad said, “and what do we have here.”
“It’s an Indian taking a bath,” Mark replied.
Other pictures of Mark flash before my eyes. I see him at age ten at the gate of summer camp, his happy freckled face smudged with dirt. I gave him hug. He smelled like dirty socks roasting on an open fire. That grimy boy now spends forever in the shower.
Mark’s happy face will be missed around here. Saying goodbye won’t be easy. When I hug him, I won’t cry. I’ll reach up to kiss him quick on the cheek. His dad and I will loosen the bonds of dependency and set him free to steer his own way. When I shed tears for my son, they will be tears of pride and joy.