Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Summer of 42

Published July 27, 2006

Summer is the only time that JD and I are the same age. Three months of the year he catches up to me and this summer we are both 42 years young. The bliss of this lasts until October and then like a thief in the night, I get the extra year to carry for another nine months…the cruelty of it all. October I become the ol’ lady, again. Sigh. With this age, I get more maudlin. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll need electroshock therapy by the time I’m 50. I’m talking about the amount of time I spent this summer getting misty-eyed over all the kids I know who are leaving home for the first time.

Speaking of 42 years old, JD just recently celebrated his birthday with his twin brother, Jim, who happened to be in town for a surprise visit. I’ve known these two men since they were 22 years old…so I’ve watched them both grow up so to speak. JD’s twin, also known as J.D., (John and James Donovan), came into the world on July 9 with my hubby trying to come feet first. A breech birth under any circumstance is a tricky and dangerous thing. Luckily my MoMaher had an excellent physician in the late great Victor Lash, MD. He managed to steer Johnny in the right direction. Jimmy never needed direction, he came barreling into the world, bigger, louder and ready to get down to business from the very beginning, which makes him a “bigger than life” kind of guy. I love watching these two together even after these last two decades. They don’t look anything alike. There is a little mischief in both of them that I think is shared in some part of their DNA, but if you saw them both on the street, you wouldn’t know they were twins, let alone brothers. We had a little celebration here which ended with MoMaher crying her eyes out, because Jim was headed back to Washington State, where he lives, and who knows when we’ll see him again. These goodbyes are always hard, but especially hard on MoMaher. I know, because I’ve felt her pain all summer long.

As Jimmy and his wife celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary this month, we watched them send their young adult children off to travel the summer overseas and around the USA, and in a sense, it was a bittersweet thing to see the babies I used to hold, set off on their own. Both their kids are getting ready to move out and go to college within the next two years so they will truly experience the empty nest. Seems the summer of 42 for us is watching our friends send their kids off to new chapters in their lives. Seems God gives you two decades with your kids and then, Bam! You’re left staring at the four walls of their rooms, wondering what the heck just happened. I remember my Dad talking about how quiet it got around the house when we left. He said it was nice at first, but they never quite got over it. He gets over it, though, when all 8 grandkids are in the same room.

We won’t be too far behind our friends who are going through this time in life that every parent goes through. Gosh, why is time going so fast? Another friend of mine is sending her oldest to Iraq, another to San Diego State. These are great kids, the best in the world. Michael is Army Airborne, and Lauren is headed off to San Diego to major in math and chemistry. Seems like yesterday Lauren was 8 years old. Another one of my favorite kids is our friend’s son who is moving to Dallas to go to college. I went to his Baccalaureate Mass and wanted to cry. These darn kids grow up and leave us…How dare they! I pray that they all do well, especially our friends who are saying goodbye to their son, on his way to Tikrit, Iraq. I see this handsome, wonderful young man, anxious to serve his country and his sense of duty humbles me. I also pity my friends, their parents, who will miss them more than this columnist can hardly express in 800 words or less. These parents throw parties for their kids, but then again, behind closed doors, they cry because things are never going to be the same again. As much as we raise these kids, they raise us. Don’t think I don’t know where gray hair comes from.

God, watch over these kids and protect them, Michael, Justin, and Lauren, and bless my wonderful husband and his crazy wacky twin brother in the summer of their 42nd. Also, warm the heart of all the mothers and fathers who are saying goodbye this summer to their kids, and especially MoMaher who has said goodbye so many times to all her sons….and Lord, when it comes time for me to do the same…give me the courage and grace not to throw myself on the floor, like Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with Wind”. Thanks Lord. Amen.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and biweekly columnist for the Mt. Democrat. You can reach her by email at familyfare@sbcglobal.net

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