Wednesday, January 26, 2011

6 years since the beginning of my empty nest.

"If you can find a path with no obstacles,
it probably doesn't lead anywhere. " ~Frank A. Clark

An exciting day, and a hard day. Something a boy in our church looks forward to all his life, as do his parents. The day he leaves home headed out for his 2 year mission. There is nothing more we wanted for him, and for all our sons, at age 19.

The goodbye is the hard part.

When Tyler left 6 years ago, Dennis went with him. He wanted to be there to take him to the Missionary Training Center, and then fly home a day or so after. Which he did. I wanted it this way. It was also Dennis' birthday, by the way.

Unlike when my first 3 sons left, this time was a little harder because I left the airport by myself. As soon as Tyler (and Dennis) left, my son Logan put his arm around me and walked me out to my car. He was so cute. He kept patting me on the arm while we walked and saying, "It's okay Mom. I know this is hard for you."

So I get in my car and proceed to get out of the parking lot when I realize Dennis had the parking ticket!  I go to the little ticket booth on my way out and Elmer is there running it as usual. I know his name only because of his name tag. He is usually the one who is sitting in that booth all day long letting people out after they pay. I know because I go to the airport often.  And yes, he looks the age of his name.

I was still crying from the airport goodbyes when I told Elmer right away that I didn't have my parking ticket.

"Well Ma'am, you need to get out of your car and look for it."
"But I don't have it."
"That's what they all say. Now back up your car and get out of it and look around your car."
"All around my car? My husband has the ticket and he is in the airport."
"Well then go back to the airport and get it from him."
"I can't. He's already on his plane... I think"
(So I try calling him, and he is indeed on the plane. I tell this to Elmer.)
"Well then back up ma'am and look in your car."

I back up several yards and stop the car to look...just to make Elmer happy.
So here comes Elmer. He gets out of his booth and comes up to me and says:

"Ma'am I didn't mean here. You are blocking traffic."
(I seriously was the ONLY car in line.)
Elmer continues, "I meant for you to move all the way back to the parking area." 
"Well I don't have the ticket."
"Okay then, come back to the booth." (So I get back into my car and drive the several yards back to his booth.)

So Elmer walks around my car taking my license down, and then asks to see my driver's license, which I give to him. And I should also mention that all the while I am still crying. So finally Elmer says since I don't have the parking ticket that I will have to pay $12.

"Well when my husband gets back to town with the ticket can I bring it to the airport and get a refund?"
"I am getting to that." Then he looks seriously up at me with his wrinkly old eyes...I think Elmer is near 80...and says:
"Ma'am, are you destitute?"
"No I'm not."
"Okay then, that will be $12." 

In a strange sort of way I bonded with Elmer that day. I visited with him the next few times I was at the airport. It wasn't exactly like Elmer and I ever had a lovely conversation or anything. But there was just something about him.

One day he wasn't there, so I asked the new guy where Elmer was. I was told Elmer had to quit because his wife got sick and he needed to stay home, and take care of her. See, I knew it. I knew he was sweet under all that.

 I think Tyler missed his niece Elora the most.
She was only 2 when he left.

Happy Birthday Dennis!!
I promise to give you more attention on this birthday than I did 6 years ago.


Dad and Susan said...

Jill, Your dad said this was one of your better blogs. In my opinion, you deserve the Oscar or whatever award is given to someone with an amazingly incredible memory! Also, another award for being the friendliest person ever!

Happy Birthday Dennis!!!

Love, Dad and Susan

deerie65775 said...

My oldest son has all his paper work in.. we are just waiting for "the call" to come! We are excited, but also anxious knowing that I won't see him for 2 years! It will be happy and sad all at the same time.
He also has a baby niece (4 months old) who probably won't remember him when he returns.. aging grandparents, etc..
What great memories, but making me cry thinking about my son!
Hope I don't forget to take pictures!! :o)

deerie65775 said...

Oh, by the way, happy birthday to your husband!!
(mine just had one, too!lol)

Grandma Honey said...

Thank you for the nice comments.

Susan~~ My memory is not as great as it seems. The day this happened I came right home and wrote this all down in a letter to Tyler. Then I started thinking about it a few weeks ago and so went looking for that letter, and I found it!

Karen Mortensen said...

Great post. I can't believe he went 6 years ago. Elora looked adorable. Happy Birthday Dennis. Hope you had a nice day.

Richard said...

You should have told Elmer that you didn't want to buy the parking lot, just pay to use one stall for an hour...great post by the way, as usual!

grandmapeg said...

I am so confused with your blog. I have been on to check it twice today and this post wasn't here, so now I get on and it said you posted it at 6:00 this morning! Anyway, Happy Birthday to Dennis! And I guess Elmer was just doing his job despite the fact that he probably felt bad that you were crying :-) And those were very hard days when our sons left home for two years!!!

Grandma Honey said...

grandmapeg~~ That may have been the time I wrote it and then I posted it a few hours ago. I know it's confusing. And I don't think Elmer felt bad that I was crying. If he did, he sure hid it well.

Rebecca said...

Oh I know exactly how you would have felt right after saying good bye to Tyler! I am impressed that you didn't totally breakdown in front of Elmer!!

Heather (The Menu Mama) said...

Awww, that makes me sad and cracks me up at the same time. "Ma'am are you destitute?" Hehe.

Happy Birthday to Dennis!!! What a sweet man.

Eileen said...

Oh, what a sad (and at the same time what must have been a proud) day for you! And how sweet of Dennis to want to be there for Tyler.
And I think God sent Elmer to you as a distraction!
(And it must have seemed surreal to have that situation going on in the midst of such emotion!)
And so sweet of you to see the good in Elmer despite all outward appearances!

Happy Belated Birthday to Dennis!
Yesterday was my daughter Katie's Birthday! (Katie is Jayden's Mommy).

Love and Prayers,

darlene said...

Aww... sweet post.
I love that pic of Elora and Tyler!

darlene said...

Oh, and happy birthday Dennis!!
You've been such a wonderful dad to Jill's 4 sons! I'm so impressed!

Ammy said...

the "destitute" part made me laugh right out loud...poor Elmer, and poor Jill! Seems like things like this happen to us too. The day my sister went to the MTC we locked the keys in the car.

krista gage said...

That was such a sweet post Jill! Thanks for sharing your experiences!I love seeing the world through Jill's eyes sometimes!!

Happy Birthday Dennis!!! Thanks for being so good to Paul! He just plain loves ya! (we all do!!! The Gages are hard core Shelly fans!)

Annette said...

Ha Jill that is a great story!!! I think you should have looked for Elmer in the phone book. Maybe taken him some chicken soup with a bit of a zing of hot sauce! hahahahaha.. I love you Jill!