(My mom making fall arrangements with my oldest son in 2008)
Eager to spread my wings and fly, I graduated my senior year of high school 6 months early in December of 1994. My high school sweetheart, now my husband, graduated the prior June, and I was ready to join him in “the real world”. My original plan was to become a lawyer, so I figured I needed a head start in order to make it through 7 years of school. I had teachers who strongly advised me against this plan. My mom, however, never did. She must have seen the determination in my eyes. She must have known that with my stubbornness and hard head, she would likely not convince me otherwise. After all, I was 17, fully capable of knowing what was best for me. Maybe she decided since it wasn’t a decision that jeopardized my safety or well-being, then our relationship was more important. Maybe she believed it actually was the best thing for me.
I don’t know all that went through her mind the day I shared my idea with her. I do know that I never considered the fact that I deprived her of having me home the last half of what should have been my senior year. She watched me play high school soccer and serve as junior class president, planning the senior class prom. Was she sad that I wouldn’t be home to go to my own senior prom or run for senior class president? Were these things important to her? Or did she see that I was chasing something bigger than prom dresses and soccer victories?
Did I never consider the effects on my mom of me cutting high school short and heading off to college because she never showed me anything but encouragement and support? She didn’t discuss with me her feelings of her first-born leaving home, for which I’m grateful. It would have been a burden I was not ready to carry.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity over a phase of life ending for her, my mom celebrated whole-heartedly with me a new, exciting phase that was on the horizon. We shopped, we decorated, we planned, and we stayed busy.
I think about the day that I will drive my boys to college, Lord willing. I hope to follow my mom’s example when it’s my turn to send my boys off into the world. I will show them my love with joy, enthusiasm, and encouragement. Because I will remember that it is hard for them too.
We spent the fall before I was to leave in January preparing for the move. She made sure to find all the little touches of home I didn’t even know I would need. But she knew. Because moms just know.
Leaving home earlier than most, I believed that I felt homesick more than most. I was horribly, horribly homesick my first semester. I didn’t quit, though I wanted to. The safety, comfort, and familiarity of my parents’ home seemed to beckon me back. How I missed home.
Relief came with summer break. I had a new appreciation for all that my parents had done for me. I quickly discovered that being on my own wasn’t easy. In no time at all, however, it was time to do it all over again. Fall was near.
I’ll never forget the first fall weekend I came back home for a visit. Windows down, I drove as fast as my little RX7 would take me.
The moment I entered the door, the warmth of home enveloped me. It was all so familiar. So comforting. So wrapped in love. The smell of fresh air throughout the house from mom opening up all the windows, filling the rooms with the new coolness. The dimly lit house radiated a warm glow. Scents of pumpkin and cinnamon drifted throughout from candles she had burning in every room. Little candy dishes could be found from room to room inviting you to take just one candy corn or marshmallow pumpkin. The latest fall magazines would be found on bedside tables or living room coffee tables. Pumpkins, gourds, and leaves graced the mantle. Table centerpieces were handcrafted of rust and golden flowers.
Maybe fall holds a special spot in my heart because it was my last season at home before heading to college early. Or maybe it is because that is the season I got married. Or maybe it’s because my first son was born in the fall. And my 2nd son. And my third. For all these reasons, I love the fall, which holds so many special memories.
To this day I am still washed by that same feeling when I smell the scents of fall. The temperature is dropping. Fall is being ushered in. I open my windows and smell that smell. That fresh, crisp, fall smell. I light a candle and fill the house with cinnamon. The boys walk in from school and say, “It smells so good in here.” Inside I’m smiling. One day they will smell these smells and they will think of home. I pray the feelings evoked from these scents of fall are of love, warmth, and acceptance. And I pray they will take the love they’ve received and pour it out on their own families one day.