By Joan Bay Klope
We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.
— Harrison Ford
I was 18-years-old and preparing to leave for college in September of 1977 when my mom suggested we drive downtown to the local Montgomery Ward store to check out trunks, featured in a sales flyer tucked inside the Sunday Star Free Press. We considered ourselves to be loyal Sears customers and I don’t recall ever stepping foot in the store before that day. I felt slightly disloyal and certainly disoriented as I entered the store with its unfamiliar layout. Missing was that delicious aroma of popcorn that always filled “our” Sears as well as Bill Robson, a loyal and experienced employee who served his customers from the bath and kitchen fixtures department.
I needed a trunk because I was about to pack up my parents’ Ford Fairlane station wagon and venture north eight hours to attend college. Most of what I owned needed to move with me as I could not dash home at a moment’s notice. I would pack up my new towels, clothing, 10-speed bike, Smith-Corona electric typewriter with the coveted correction cartridge, and a hot pot, which for years would heat water for such delectables as instant oatmeal and Top Ramen.
I had secretly wanted a hope chest and weeks before I had walked into a local family-owned furniture store with my high school diploma. In return they gifted me with a small replica of a cedar-lined chest that I would fill with jewelry and other treasures for years. I understood this “gift” drew me into the store to view their collection and I thought each chest was beautiful. I would never have dreamed of asking for one, however. My parents were already footing my college tuition and living expenses.
We purchased a $20 navy-blue trunk from “Monkey” Wards, instead, and today it houses scores of letters sent to me during college and other childhood treasures I rarely peruse but wouldn’t dare toss.
I’ve thought back on that time of youthful excitement and sense of adventure this week as I watch my second child close the chapter on her own childhood and pack up her belongings for a move to Seattle, where she will live and attend school. Things are different these days. She’s packing her Nate Berkus towel set into her own car, synchronizing her laptop with a new 3-in-1 printer, and finishing an online college art class. She’s gathering supplies for the dog that will move with her, selling her horse, and filling the hope chest her papa built her with childhood items that will stay at home because there will be no room in her apartment for additional furniture.
I’ve spent several evenings this week sitting in my favorite chair next to the fireplace, away from the packing and rearranging, to contemplate her exodus from my daily life. I’ve thought back time and again to the evening, her first with me, when her voice howled louder in that newborn nursery than even the premature twins.
The images of all she was and has become, the way she has filled our home with horse tack, music, boisterous laughter, energy, drama, and friends fill my idle moments. Especially in the middle of the night when it’s quiet and dark. The world sleeps and I turn to my loving God, who understands these feelings of amazement, joy, gratefulness, and loss.
I understood this treasure of a daughter would only be loaned to me and the time is right for her to fly away. Yet, there is so much re-arranging for me to do; the mental, spiritual, and emotional adjusting we must all do from time to time when life forces great change upon us.
Less food to purchase and prepare. Less laundry. Less scheduling.
Fewer hugs. No other woman in my house to commiserate with on a daily basis. No early morning hauling to horse shows or late night viewing of Grey’s Anatomy under quilts warmed by little Chihuahua bodies.
I reminded God that many of these adjustments feel like loss, right now. And I’ve asked God to show me graceful ways to experience these myriad feelings with patience.
And fill the voids with His comfort, direction, and presence.
New dreams. New ways to successfully communicate and guide a young adult daughter. New connections with my husband and son. A new life to explore.