Thousands of students leave home for school every year. It is just that none of them have been mine until today. Kelly, our youngest daughter, departed for New England to begin her graduate studies at Vermont Law School. Laura and I teeter on the edge over our joy for her studies and the tears that flow so easily because we will miss her so much.
Everyone was over at the house last night for a big dinner. While Kelly was clearly upset about leaving all of us, it was her three-month old nephew, Jake, that tugs the most at her heart. During the year of intensive study for her Masters in Environmental Law, Kelly knows that Jake will change dramatically, and for the most part, she will miss the joyful smile of her beloved new friend as he grows and takes his first steps.
Of course as with anything involving the Jacobsens there has to be fun and humor. Laura and I knew that early Monday morning before the departure had to be left to Kelly’s mother and her stepfather, Anthony, who graciously consented to drive a truck and U-Haul to Kelly’s South Royalton apartment with Kelly following in her Honda.
We still wanted to send Kelly off with something to remember. Laura suggested a banner hung from a Turnpike overpass as the two vehicles headed east. Daughter Julie painted the banner. We were up early and ready for the big surprise, except that it was shockingly cool due to 18 mph winds out of the north. There was no way we were getting the 15-foot banner safely secured. We would have to hold it over the edge and pray it would not fly away.
With Julie calling us upon their departure, there we stood by the overpass as two sheriff cars slowly drove by five times, never stopping to question us whether we needed help or asking why we there. Meanwhile, two regular drivers pulled over to make sure whether we needed help.
Through binoculars, I finally spotted Kelly’s car. Battling the wind we hung over the edge with banner in hand. I tried to call Kelly to tell her to look up, while Laura flashed “God and everybody” that passed in her short skirt. Waving and screaming as Kelly drove past, we both sensed that somehow our efforts had gone for naught as we watched Kelly drive out of sight.
We called her as soon as we made it back to the car. Sure enough, Kelly’s intense tunnel vision kept her from seeing anything. She wrote off the cell phone ringing as a “butt call,” and it took a photograph of the banner to convince her we were not playing a joke. While disappointed, we still had to laugh. Kelly missing it all was the perfect ending.
We often forget that Kelly is just 22 years old. She might have a monstrously amazing resume, but she is still just a young woman so nervous about the challenges ahead. This 1,400 mile trip is just the start of a long journey.
Kelly might have missed our banner, but we know in her heart she appreciates the effort. All she has to remember, until we see her in Vermont in late September, is our banner’s simple message, “We love you, Kelly.”