December 3, 1992 had been cold and rainy all day, and by 4:00 in the afternoon the streetlights and headlights were already glaring on damp darkened skies as we made our way, ninety miles north, to the hospital.
Hours later, three minutes before midnight, Andrew came into our lives. The Saints had been playing on tv and the rain was still coming down.
Arriving as number five, eighteen years after four older sisters, and the youngest one seven, of course he was my favorite. At least that’s what his sisters think. The truth is, the youngest is always the favorite until the barrel is empty and they’ve all left the nest. So they’ve each had a turn. Now it’s fair game. Who shall it be?
December, 2016 brought Andrews twenty-fourth birthday, college graduation, acceptance to grad school – too far away – and Christmas, all wrapped up in one big package. Throw in the removal of his four wisdom teeth on the twenty-third and him moving to Tennessee today, and that package was a hefty one.
It seems like only yesterday we dropped him off at Troy University, two hours away, with a few belongings and necessities. After all, it was an easy trip and there would be ball games, symphony concerts, and percussion ensembles for us to attend. We would see him often to take him whatever else he might need.
Moving out of the dorm and into an off-campus apartment, after his freshman year, he needed his bed. His chest of drawers, bedside table, bookcase, and filing cabinet soon followed.
It took a couple of trips during the months of November and December, and one more today, but we finally got all those articles of furniture and the many boxes of stuff he had accumulated – and couldn’t see parting with – moved back home. He wouldn’t be taking anything to Tennessee except his clothing and a zillion percussion instruments, mallets and mallet bags.
Yes, I said zillion, and I said bags. He collects percussion instruments and mallets like most people collect stamps. After shoving that djembe sideways on top of the already over-filled front passenger seat, I was hoping he would be able to use his side mirrors while driving through Atlanta, because the rear-view mirror only gave him a view of his full-to-the-brim back seat.
We filled his car up with gas and took him to lunch. With his silence I could tell he was sad about leaving Troy. After all, it had been his home-away-from-home for the past five years. I think we may have factored into that sadness somewhere.
With a full trunk, back seat, and front seat, would he have enough air to breath in those cramped quarters on the trip to Lee University? I guess he did because he let us know about five and a half hours later he had made it.
So now he’s really gone, and I’m sad, and there isn’t another one to take his place.