The application for academy had been sent in and it wasn’t long before the letter of acceptance came back. My little girl was growing up. She was ready to spread her wings and fly. We had some shopping to do but the gifts she’d gotten for graduation helped tremendously. She’d received linens and other items she would need to furnish her room in the dorm.
The academy had a summer work program and DD was so determined to be a student there she was willing to go and participate. She’d never been away from home for extended periods of time so this was going to be a real adjustment. It turned out it was more daunting for me than it was for her.
The first order of business was to get the rest of the things she’d need for her quarters. Between us, we managed to pay for all of it. There were boxes and boxes and bags and suitcases. I don’t know how we got it all in the car but we did. I guess it helped that we had a Buick I’d bought from my brother-in-law after my Peugeot died. Well, it didn’t actually die but it was certainly crippled beyond driving.
On the appointed morning, we got into the car and set out. We weren’t total strangers to the school. Years before, my sister and her husband were on the faculty and DH and I had visited them there. DD had attended Academy Days in the spring and spent a night in the dorm. The trip seemed too short for my taste and probably too long for hers.
There weren’t many students working in the summer so a lot of the dorm was unoccupied. She was shown to her room. I was told I could pull the car around to the back entrance to make unloading easier. When we got everything in, there wasn’t much space left on the floor but it was obvious we hadn’t remembered all the necessities. A run to Wally World would fix that. It was over too soon and we were back at the dorm.
I lingered as long as I could but I was going to have to get back home. I was still the breadwinner. It was hard for me to leave but DD didn’t seem to mind my going. As a matter of fact, I felt she was edging me to the door and on my way. I hugged her as closely as she would let me. She didn’t like too much contact. I was about to dissolve into a puddle and I knew that would embarrass her. It was not far to the car where I cranked it up and drove off the campus wailing with tears running down my cheeks.
The house was bigger than I remembered it and it was empty. I could sleep that night because I was dead tired but my dreams were troubled.
Next morning I got up and readied myself for work. I didn’t have to jockey for position in the bathroom. Breakfast was made for one, not two. Always before, if I had mango for breakfast, I’d leave her half. Now I could eat the whole thing. A small consolation for being alone.
When I got to the hospital all the girls wanted to know how it went. I tried to tell them but whenever I thought of DD, the waterworks started. I’d sit at my desk and cry off and on all day. That went on for weeks.
DD would call me collect and not talk. I’d try to make conversation but that’s difficult when it’s all one-sided. Listening to each other breathe was expensive. If I’d heard words, I would have gladly paid the price but it was a lot of dead silence.
Her job that summer was working in the carpet factory. They didn’t actually make carpet. They made the sample books that retailers keep in their showrooms. When I’d ask how work was going, she’d say, “It’s okay.” That was that. I needed to learn how to ask questions. She had a fairly long walk from the dorm through the woods and she scoffed at my concern for her safety. She was invincible.
The 4th of July was coming up and I went to get her for a short vacation. It was so nice to have her in the house again. She stayed just long enough for me to get used to her being there and then she was gone again. More crying at my desk. The girls learned to leave me alone in my grief.
Late summer came around and I went to make the financial arrangements for the school year. The counselor gave me a dollar amount to contribute monthly and that, along with what DD had already made, her projected wages and the money accrued to her account from the “sale” of the organ would get her through the first year. We went through the registration process (and what a process it was!) and she was officially a freshman. She had her school schedule and her work schedule and the two made for some full days.
On top of that, she tried out for the choir and made it into the “A” choir. There was a “B” choir for anyone but the “A” members were chosen. There were other extracurricular activities, too, but the choir was the big thing.
Time went rocking on and she’d periodically have home leaves. I’d drive down to get her and, too soon, I’d have to take her back. She had Thanksgiving and Christmas at home. My mother-in-law had given me a cot and when I got so lonely for her I couldn’t stand it, I’d pack it up with a change of clothes and I’d go and spend a couple of nights in her room. That’s when I got acquainted with melatonin. There was so much noise in the hall on Saturday night (when the residents were allowed to stay up until all hours) I’d eat it like candy. It was the only way I could sleep but it was worth it.
The Buick started giving trouble. It was an older car and there was no way I would be able to afford all the repairs it needed. The mechanic at the station on the corner had put so many bandaids on it, it was one big bandage. I needed another car but where was I to get it?