June 3, 1977--
It was odd, but my dad seemed more excited about what lay ahead than troubled by what he was leaving behind, namely my mother, my brother and me. He had finally sold the beautiful, ivy-covered family home in Columbia, South Carolina, where he had briefly been a promising young psychology professor, and he had recently joined us back in my mother's small hometown in Texas. He had come to help us get settled among my maternal grandparents and other family, and then he would set out to travel the world.
For the last few days he had been assembling his gear: canteen, cut-off shorts, binoculars, lots of books, sleeping bag, yoga mat, all gathered into a brand new, aluminum-framed backpack the likes of which I'd never seen before. He was very proud of that backpack.
We got up that morning and got in the car. I wasn't sure what exactly was going on, being only 6 years old, but I knew dad was about to leave on a trip. We drove down our street, out past the high school and the field of cotton across the street, onto the highway and out past the John Deere dealership, and we continued out of town for about ten minutes. We pulled onto a crossover and headed back toward town for a minute. I wondered what this meant.
We finally pulled onto the median, under a line of three trees. We all got out of the car. My dad hugged and kissed my mother and my big brother and me. He walked to the trunk and got out his brand new, aluminum-framed backpack. He hugged us again. I smelled his jojoba shampoo, the mildew of the books in his backpack, his nylon sleeping bag. Trucks roared by us.
We got back in the car and pulled onto the highway. I looked out the back window at my dad standing by the highway, his thumb stuck out to hitch a ride...somewhere. It would take another year for me to realize he would never be back to stay.
*A series of reflections I've begun upon realizing I'm now about the same age my parents were when they divorced. You may read Part 1 Here. You may or may not have a comment. But if you or your family have gone through a divorce, please feel free to share your own feelings. If you are considering divorce, please stop and consider the long-term ramifications of this decision, especially if children are involved. Consider giving counseling a chance, or I am happy to dialog with you from my own experience as a child of divorce and as a pastor (e-mail me). To be continued...