“Don’t let go.”
The other week, the three of us had gone swimming. Our son has not wanted to be in the baby pool any longer so we’ve graduated to the big pool. In order to give him more stability, we bought a pair of water wings, inflatable plastic devices that go around his arms, to hold him up. However, on our last visit, the lifeguard said these weren’t allowed and he had to take them off. Reluctantly, we removed them and gave him fair warning that he wouldn’t automatically stay above water. He didn’t like moving away from the edge of the pool.
“Don’t let go, Daddy.”
“Buddy, I’ll never let you go,”
This weekend, I was back at my parents still helping them with this insane move. During one of our breaks, I relayed the swimming story to my folks. My mom did her standard grandma response; “Oh that is so cute. What a darling little boy.” My dad just nodded, smiled and continued moving boxes.
After my mom left to go direct other move ‘volunteers’, my dad looked over and responded as if the conversation were now continuing since my mom wouldn’t control it. “Not much more time left for that, you know.”
“For what?” I asked.
“Hanging on. Independence comes quick.” My dad is an amazingly wise man when not in the company of his wife.
“In a year or two, he’ll be learning to ride a bike without training wheels. You’ll be running along side, balancing the bike to make sure he doesn’t fall. Then all of sudden, he tell you to ‘Let go’. It happens just like that. One minute, you’re support; the next you just watch.”
At once, I saw my own life changing. My son growing up and learning to make decisions on his own; realizing both the joy and sadness of child discovering how to live for himself. Childhood replaced by choice and consequences.
My father and I continued to move boxes; from the house where he’d been the dad of two little boys to the house where he’s a granddad to two little boys. I couldn’t help but feel the twinge of sadness as I realized this old house was where my brother and I ‘let go’ of many things to become the men we are now.
Sunday afternoon, I was dropped off at the airport. My body was in sheer agony from twelve hours of climbing stairs with heavy boxes, but a trip well spent…for many reasons. I kissed my mom and told her what a great housed they purchased. It’s been an agonizing choice for her to move, so she really needed the validation.
Then I went to other side of the car. My dad always puts out his hand, though we’ve hugged for as long as I can remember. I just hugged him and then as he started pulling away, I said quietly, “Promise me, you won’t ever let go.”
He held on a little longer and was smiling as we released.
My son and I will go swimming again this week. We’ll paddle around together. We’ll practice putting our face in the water. We’ll keep learning how to kick. And he’ll tell me not to ‘let go’.
“I won’t let go…not until you need me to, buddy.”
PS Thanks to M&Co from My Own Circle of Confusion who nominated me for a Sept. Perfect Post.