Hurrying through the ABIA airport terminal, I think I have timed this perfectly. Arriving about 5 minutes before the flight and allowing for baggage pickup we should be out and at the parking toll booth in under 30 minutes so it will be free! Glancing at the monitor, I see that the Southwest flight from Dallas is delayed and will not arrive for another hour. #%!*@! in my haste and excitement, I left the house without looking on line to check the status and also left my phone at home...What to do? I make my way to the coffee shop and look for something to read but no luck, it's the end of the day, all of the papers are gone, there are no magazines of interest and I don't want to start a new book. So I return to baggage claim area, take a seat to people watch until our sons flight from school touches down.
Our son was home a few weeks ago for Thanksgiving and it was an interesting and fun visit. We all enjoyed ourselves and when we put him on the plane back to Tulsa were relieved that he seemed to be doing so well while away at school at Tulsa University in Oklahoma. My wife remarked that she was so proud of him and how he was doing just fine on his own and did not really need us all that much anymore. We agreed and then the tears came; yes we seemed to have done a good job so far but with the realization that he is NOT our baby boy anymore. My wife's parents and my Father have always been an incredible inspiration and I know that we BOTH hope that we have in some way raised our children to be better people and to help them both keep their heads when all about are losing theirs.
My thoughts are interrupted by Willie Nelson's version of "Silent Night" over the speakers (yes this IS Austin, Texas) and the shuffle and clamor of people arriving to pick up baggage and meet their friends and relatives.I watch as people shout, laugh out loud, hug, kiss and exclaim how they have missed one another. Little children, squealing with delight rushing to grandparents and parents, friends and lovers, husbands and wives embracing with joy. I see soldiers reuniting with families draped over them laughing and shouting. And tears...I see so many tears of greeting, happiness, welcome and relief. I read once that tears are the inability of a person to express themselves in words and for all of these people it is true! The airport is one of those places where there are many reunions on many different levels and never more so than during the Holidays.
The terminal quiets as people clear out and I am left listening to more Austin artists performing different versions of holiday classics. Checking the monitor, I smile as I see that our son's plane has ARRIVED. After a few minutes it changes to LANDED and finally, AT GATE 12.I start to get excited and move to the stairs and station myself behind a group of people so I can spot him first before he sees me! People begin arriving and taking the escalators and stairs down and I anxiously wait until I see him strolling down the stairs and looking for me or his Mom. I wait, just enjoying the sight of the young man as he continues down the stairs and when he finally spots me, he breaks into that huge infectious smile. As he reaches me we hug one another and while I am embracing him I feel the tears begin to well up in my eyes and I brush them away as we head for the carousel. I really cannot explain the way his mother and I truly feel about him (and his younger sister) so I guess the theory about tears is true for me too! We move to pick up his baggage and he says "I am starving and have not eaten since noon" so it's apparent he is healthy and normal. The funny part about all of this is that we will probably have some normal parent/child arguments over the next few days however, in the grand scheme of things, my wife and I are blessed beyond measure to have two healthy, intelligent, happy, fairly normal children and a family that that functions on a "normal" basis! (Whatever that is?)
We are in a time of great strife, problems and uncertainty. There is a lot of fear, loss and suffering in our country and throughout the world. I hope that each person who reads this will make the effort at finding some small connection to a person, place, idea, event or memory that will somehow help to magnify the glimmer of hope that this season is supposed bring to us all. I say this not to be unthinkingly optimistic but to remind myself as much as anything to be grateful. At times, I also get discouraged and have a tendency to allow a darker side to obscure my view and dwell on the negative. Our family, like many others is faced with challenges but we have it very good with so many blessings that our gratitude list overwhelms our troubles, doubts and so called problems. My wish for each of you this season is the gift of Joy, Gratitude, Hope and Peace. Peace be with you and yours (no exceptions)!
I am glad I had the time to wait and quietly observe and reflect. It did however cost me $8.00 in parking fees and...Oh, the parent/child squabbles that I mentioned might occur earlier? Yep, they started during the ride home from the airport when he began to criticize my driving! HAH! As, George Bailey would say, "It's a wonderful life!