Friday, July 19, 2013

They Leave, They Come Back, They Leave Again …

By Alan Zendell

There comes a time when they leave for good.  Really.
After raising my two sons in Seattle, I brought them kicking and screaming to Maryland during their high school years.  They were furious. 
At a ballgame in the old Kingdome, they complained to Orioles’ pitcher Jim Palmer that they were being kidnapped and dragged off to a terrible place.  I guess they forgot that Baltimore was in Maryland.  Later, Palmer spoke directly to them during a post-game radio broadcast promising that they’d love Maryland.  They accused me of bribing him to say it.
The moment they graduated from college in 1991 and 1993 they announced that they were “going home,” got in their respective cars, and drove west…to San Diego.  Go figure.  At least they got the time zone right.
Over the next few years they couldn’t decide where they wanted to be.  The younger one returned to Maryland and left again three times.  He moved so often, he had to file tax returns in five states one year (well, four plus the District of Columbia).  Then it was off to Australia, where he met his wife, and finally to San Diego again.  They were married there in 2005, and he says they’ll never leave.  I believe him this time.
His brother came back to Maryland for a year in 1999 − he swore it wouldn’t be a day longer – and stayed for eleven.  To be fair he’d met a girl here.  He married her in 2006.  They moved to Philadelphia in 2010 so she could completely her residency in dermatology.  They’re here now, living in my house while she studies for her boards.  I have a whole month with my seven-month old grandson and their golden retriever before I have to say goodbye again.  In August, they’re leaving for good, to Orlando.
This is getting old.  I’m getting old.
It’s for real this time.  They’ll be off making their own lives.  Who knows, they may not even ask to borrow money any more.  There’ll be visits, and we might even move to be closer to our grandchild(ren?).  But I have to face it.  This is a new phase of life.  I’ve been officially retired for five years (which means I work twice as hard as I did before) and my wife says she’ll retire in January.  It’s our time to travel and enjoy life with no responsibilities.
She wants to see more of the world.  So do I, but honestly, I’m content tutoring kids in math and writing and watching baseball.  We love our home.  We paid off our mortgage years ago.  We’re financially prepared for retirement.  This is a happy time…isn’t it?  Isn’t it?
Then why am I so sad?  I’ve said goodbye so many times, why is this time so much harder?  We’re already planning where to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.  Is that what my life is going to be?
No.  This really is our time.  We start next month, celebrating our forty-eighth anniversary.  Without the kids, but so what?  We have each other and we’re healthy, and not everyone can say that.  We’re going to take a cruise on the Danube for our forty-ninth.
What am I complaining about?

Alan spent more than thirty years as a scientist, aerospace engineer, software consultant, database developer, and government analyst, writing really boring stuff like proposals, technical papers, reports, business letters, and policy memoranda.  But trapped inside him all that time were stories that needed telling and ideas that needed expression, so with encouragement and cajoling from a loving baby sister he plunged into fiction.
Since then, he has written mostly science and extrapolative fiction, the genre he loved since he was nine.  But his stories are about more than aliens and technical marvels.  He creates strong, three-dimensional characters a reader can care about, because it’s people and the way they live and love that are important.  It’s the things they believe in and how much they’re willing to invest to preserve them that make a story worth telling.  It’s convincing interactions and well-researched credible plots that make a story worth reading.
And, of course, like any writer, Alan loves having an audience.  Find Alan's books:

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Oh, wow, Alan, what an experience. I cried forever--almost--when our boys left the nest, but fortunately I gradually began enjoying the empty nest. It's nice tho that they live close. Double blessings w/grandsons. :)