Saturday, October 15, 2011

Farewell, Fearless One!

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

On Oct 11, 2011, 6:00 AM, I bade my eldest child farewell as I dropped him off at the Southwest Airlines terminal. He was armed with a one-way ticket to Los Angeles that he had purchased only one week prior.

My fearless boy-man. Who always will be, now and forever.

In his fast way of talking he spilled out how he felt God calling him to start a new life in California. Instantly, my heart became gripped with fear. Although I have known for some time that his greatest desire has been to move to Cali, I couldn't help feeling...helpless, for the ticket was purchased and his mind was made up.

As the words rolled off his tongue, hovered in the air, then settled onto me like a cold, soggy blanket, haunting passages from The Grapes of Wrath came to mind. Words that Pa Joad might have uttered about making a fortune...endless opportunity...fresh fruit...fresh air.

Gonna get me a whole big bunch of grapes off a bush, or whatever, an' I'm gonna squash 'em on my face an' let 'em run offen my chin.

Leaving most of his possessions behind, my boy has plans to take California by storm, to make a fortune in a fragile real estate market...all on a shoestring budget. I worry that he will end up like the Joads, living in a tent, or worse.

To California or any place—every one a drum major leading a parade of hurts, marching with our bitterness. And some day—the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it.

JB, as he likes to be called now, has been a challenge from the moment he was conceived. Three months of morning sickness alone nearly did me in. Despite all we've been through with him, I love him with all my heart. He exasperates me to no end, but I see the potential in him; the sharp intellect, the relentless drive that sometimes causes him to make poor, impulsive decisions. Times too numerous to count I have stayed silent when I wanted to shout STOP THE MADNESS. Sharing this life with JB (at times) feels like a nightmarish roller coaster ride that has left the rails and is now careening wildly through the galaxies.

They knew that a man so hurt and so perplexed may turn in anger, even on the people he loves. They left the men alone to figure and to wonder in the dust.

I want off the ride sometimes. I want to say how foolish he is being. But I do not want to constantly be the wet blanket, the party of No, a Negative Nellie.

Helplessly, I stand by and watch as he free falls. Which he actually did 11 years ago from a 6-story parking garage. And if the parking garage had not been located just outside the county hospital's doors, we would have lost him forever on 4/11/00.

Maybe we can start again, in the new rich land—in California, where the fruit grows. We'll start over. 

Today he deals with the pain of being put back together like Humpty Dumpty, with screws and nuts and bolts in just about every part of his body. Arthritis has set in. It threatens to crush his spirit. But somehow he manages to put on his big boy boots and keep going.

Honestly, I don't know how he functions at all. I would have given up long ago. I am astonished at his determination, his tenacity to keep going. These traits cry out to be admired. So I do.

And here we are.

More than once this year I asked God to take me from this earth if that would settle him down and straighten out his life. And I meant it. The price would have been well worth it. Crawling to God on my hands and knees is a frequent exercise these days. Some days I beg for an ounce of peace; most days it's for protection for my son. Occasionally, I am granted some tender mercies for which I am thankful.

This is the photo that comes up on my phone whenever he calls. I wish I could freeze him at this age. So full of life and innocence, blue eyes shining, such a silly boy, always trying to make us laugh. If I had that power, I think I might just use it. And who could blame me?

I like to think how nice it's gonna be, maybe, in California. Never cold. An' fruit ever'place, an' people just bein' in the nicest places, little white houses in among the orange trees.

(bolded, italicized words are passages from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck)


TexWisGirl said...

oh gail. i know you will never stop worrying for your son - no matter how far or how close he is. i hope his fearlessness and his drive take him to happiness and success, though!

Tricia @ A Rosy Note said...

It sounds like he has a lot of life in him. Perhaps, striking out on his own, whether he's successful or not, is just what he needs...and maybe what you need too. I hope he finds what he's looking for :)

the wild magnolia said...

I have a grandson, the eldest, in Los Angeles. He is dear, dear to my heart, and he is a troubled soul. I do know how you feel. Just yesterday we had more news regarding him to deal with.

You will both be in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I'll pray his angels plus some hover near him and protect him from danger, and that he sees his path clearly. Bless his heart to live with that pain - that says a lot about him! I can imagine your fear, though, and I'll pray for you, too! Precious photos - I think there's nothing more precious than a 4 year old. Keep us posted!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I totally get it. I calm myself by knowing they are on their own path-between them and God. Falling from a 6 story parking lot - wow, I cannot imagine the trauma that must have left for all of you.

Anonymous said...

Wow - such a powerful and moving post. I guess we have to give our children wings and hope that the root we let them grow are strong enough...

Pat said...

Gail, this is such a deeply touching post. I sincerely hope that your son finds happiness and success in his new venture and your worries can be eased.

Rosemary Aubut said...

Well written Gail! you have expressed your strong feeling and emotions very well! Good luck to your son. I hope all his dreams come true!

Starla said...

Funny how these sweet little babies cause us worry to no end!! I'm just entering the high school years with my oldest and am having to learn to let go and let him be responsible. I'm not sure if I struggle with this because I'm afraid he will fail or WON'T fail and prove he is growing up into the independent man I hope for.
All I know for sure is, it really is out of our control and in the hands of God.

Linda R. said...

This is such a touching post. I do wish the best for your son as he tries to find himself.. And I will keep you both in prayers..

Hugs, Linda

Evelyn S. said...

Oh Gail! I hurt for you as you worry about your son. But I'll also pray that he will find his way...his calling...even if it's in California.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

Gail -- with two sons of my own, I can relate to your worry (but I can't actually know how you feel.)

I wish I could say with certainty that his decision to move to Cali was a good one -- but you won't know this maybe for some time.

If he is an adult, which it appears he is, then he can do as he pleases. You just need to let him fall if he has to fall.

missing moments said...

Oh Gail, I don't think I know of any greater pain that our worries and struggles over our children. And letting them go to fought their own battles in the world is the hardest. I hope he finds his way. I hope he finds peace.

hootnonny said...

I too will pray for your son as he embarks on a new career in a new place. What a precious photo to pop up on your phone. He'll do fine; after all, he is a pepper!

Anonymous said...

You write such a great story... it grabs your attention & keeps hold throughout!

God bless him & God bless you, too... mom (you) sounds like she definitely needs some blessings! =)

Rosie said...

What a touching post, Gail! I do hope everything works out for you son in California and then also for you!

beth said...

so much of what you have written here, could have been written by me.....
our boys sound so similar.

so i wish him the best of luck. if he plans on conquering the world, he'll do it. i've learned from my son that there's no stopping him once his mind is set.

and to you....well i wish you luck and peace and throw a ton of extra prayers your way.

i know. i know how you feel and where you stand and what your heart is doing. i know.

lisa said...

This is such a heartfelt post Gail, and it is so beautifully written. Although I know perfectly well from experience, how tough this is, he does indeed sound like a very brave young man who is following his dream. Unfortunately our dreams for them are not necessarily those that they see for themselves. All we can do is be there, and love with all our hearts.

Shug said...

Sweet Gail....I am so understanding exactly where you are at today. Not with my child, but with a dear brother...
What you must hold on to, is Hope,Faith and Trust in the Lord..
Every prayer is heard and this is one thing that I have to constantly remind myself of. God hears my prayers, and I truly believe that HE will be faithful to answer. It is true, that God's timing is not my timing, and I have no way of knowing how many steps the Lord will take with my brother before HE finally gets Joe's attention, but I do know that God's Mercy and Grace is bigger than anything I could possibly imagine. I just have to be Faithful to pray for this loved one and I must believe. I have to pray for a hard heart to be made soft and I have to constantly pray for God's hand of protection to be there for Joe. Just place your son in the hands of Lord and keep believing! Thanks for sharing this with us and thanks for placing your trust in Me to stand with you in prayer! I will be a prayer warrior for your son...

Butterbean Row said...

this is a most awesomely written post from your heart. I love how you interspersed you thoughts with quotes from The Grapes of Wrath. How appropriate. The people were hopeful for jobs, good weather and abundance of food. I hope all goes as well as JB wants it to be.
And I pray that God will hold JB in the palm of His hand and that the angels will be with him.

God bless you, my friend,


Susan said...

Oh Gail!

Bless your heart. I can truly say I "feel" your pain.

I have a son just like yours. His adventures took him to Taiwan to teach English and he didn't return home until 2 years later. After visiting over 40 countries and crossed 4 continents! Alone!!!!

Yes...and I knew he'd do this from the time he was a little boy also.

Funny, he's in Cally now.

I pray daily for him, sometimes hourly! He keeps me on my knees!

But I would not want to change that adventurous spirit!

He loves life and gives it his 100%!

I'll keep your son in prayer as well. They are doing what they were meant to do.

Sending hugs to you today♥

Andy said...

From a mothers heart, prayers up and to the hands of God.

I'm touched by this post.

Buttons said...

Oh Gail you made me cry I am reminded of my brothers leaving home heading out west to search for those pots of gold. My Mom was a mess. Imagine your sons going one after another,as they turned 18 each year,she had six sons. They searched for gold she searched for a way to deal with the stress and the faith she needed.
I asked her how she did it when my oldest moved far away and I cried and worried everyday and she said this.
They have to do what they have to do and you have to do what you have to do and trust that it is the right thing and God will make sure it will work out right.
I never really understood that but all my brothers eventually came home now men, they had learned a lot of life's lessons and not always the easy way but MY Mom always new they needed to do it and trusted that they would be fine.
I do hope you can get to the place of no worries OK I don't believe that either but to that place that gives you comfort.
Your son will be OK and he has to do what he has to do.