By, Louisa Cambridge
We have a tradition in our family that when someone we love leaves our home after an extended visit, we say our last farewell, with a Traditional Carlos. A Carlos is nothing more than a wave that is maintained until the car carrying our guest(s) has driven out of our sight. This tradition was established back in the 1970’s by Jeff’s brother, David.
At the time, David was an aspiring actor, living in New York City. Often, he visited a friend named Carlos. When it was time for David to leave Carlos’ apartment, Carlos walked with him outside and waved. He waved as David walked down the sidewalk, maintaining the wave until the top of David’s head disappeared down a stairway leading to the underground Subways. This was how Carlos honored his guests. His way of expressing how important they were to him. David passed this tradition onto our family; in turn, Jeff and I passed it onto ours.
I have come to learn, that the joy and anticipation of waiting for loved ones to arrive, far surpasses that moment when you kiss them goodbye. This knowledge first tenderized my heart when my son Chris left the safe embrace of our home to join the Air Force. I learned the lesson a new when my son Andy left to join the Navy. Today, that same ache fills my heart whenever Aldon leaves… the aftermath of sending him back to Mississippi, to his parent’s loving arms.
This morning as I watched Aldon leave, I waved a Carlos. As our car rounded a corner, disappearing from my sight, tears filled my eyes. Retreating into my house, I sought solitude in my bedroom, where I could be alone with my thoughts and the pain throbbing in my heart. Too fresh is the memory of my grandson’s embrace. I still smell traces of his Captain America cologne, which I bought for his birthday. My house is full of reminders of him, toys, little gifts he has given me throughout his visit; notes he has written. Now it’s time to be grateful for his sweet mom and dad, who so freely entrust him into our care. He must be released, like his dad and uncle before him.
Strange are the mysteries of life as they unfold… In my youth, I learned to mold myself into a parent, changing my focus from me, to my children. Then one day my children transitioned into adults and I sought after the Grace to release them into the world. All the time, hoping that I had performed my job well enough for them to fly on their own.
Fly they have!
I’m carried back to a holiday when Chris was home, taking leave from the Air Force. This was before 911 struck and we were able to join our loved ones at the airline gates. Jeff, Grandpa Kissell and I went to see Chris off. Once Chris boarded the plane and was out of sight, I saw tears come to Grandpa Kissell’s eyes. His outward display of emotion embarrassed him, but his words echoed my own, “He’s the first!”
When Aldon left our house this morning, he was unaware that his Uncle Chris was waiting for him at the airport, to surprise him. Nor did he know that, Chris was flying back to Mississippi with him to surprise his mom and daddy (Andy).
They’re on the plane right now…
At the beginning of this summer, Jeff and I waited for Aldon’s arrival with eager anticipation. As a family, we have gorged ourselves on laughter, good food and outings. Aldon and I rode Dude, saw Broadway’s, “The Lion King” and went to Six Flags twice. I took him swimming and he rode bikes almost every night with Baboo (Jeff). We celebrated the 4th of July, his birthday and Grandma and Grandpa Kissell moving in with us.
Always, when we gather together as a family, we reminisce over the past, reliving fond memories while discarding the bumpy roads that came our way. We hold each other close, clinging just a little bit tighter How painful that moment is when you kiss a loved one goodbye. The pain is strong, because the love is strong. It is in that moment of departure when your love is the most exposed.
This morning, as I waved a Carlos to Aldon, I felt a swirl of these emotions. After retreating to my room, I let my tears flow freely. Oh, how the well of emotion tugged at my heart! Yet, there was stillness in the moment. Comforting stillness…
In that stillness I saw a gift… It hovered over me, as well as within. The moment I acknowledged the gift, it seemed to swell and radiate a soothing light. I grasped it with hands of faith, holding it close to my heart so the light could fill my soul, ease the pain of separation.
I’ll hang on to this one for a while and let it continue to tenderize my heart, before placing it with all my others… the fragments of time I carefully store in my treasure chest. Marveling, how one little boy can completely melt my heart…