Time just flies by nowadays. It seemed that it was only yesterday that we brought my baby boy home from the hospital but here we were helping him move into his dorm room at Valdosta State University. While the unloading was getting underway in earnest, my wife handed me a list and told me to go to the mall and get supplies. I asked where the mall was because I was lost as a goose. She gave me directions and I lit out, glad to get away from the bedlam of hundreds of students and parents milling around doing the same thing we were.
My wife is a fine girl but she obviously cannot give directions because I followed her instructions to the letter and wound up on the road to Naylor. I turned around and went the other way and crossed over the interstate. After the road ran out a half hour later, I turned around again. Being a man, I hate to ask directions but I was near tears and frustrated, what with empty nest syndrome setting in, traffic and people everywhere, and being in a strange place, when I finally pulled into a convenience store. My bladder was about to bust and thank goodness they had a restroom.
While in it, I decided to buy something just as my way of saying thank you for having a clean restroom. I picked up the smallest coke they had and asked the clerk which way to the mall. He was from Pakistan or Bangladesh or one of those other places where they get convenience store clerks nowadays, and he just stared at me, the red dot on his forehead boring a hole through me. He knew I was lost. Without cracking a smile he said, “I don’t know nothing about no mall.”
When he finally got me to stop crying, he laughed and said, “I’m just kidding. It’s only a half mile further down, Sir.”
I finally got to the right mall entrance and thought it rather odd there were no cars or people there. After going inside, I found out why the place was deserted. It was only 9 am and the stores don’t open until 10.
I sat inside on a hard bench and, being me and craving attention, finally gathered a crowd by asking every employee of Chick- fil- a, the only place with a sign of life, if they had ever seen a gopher snake swallow a cottonmouth. They all looked at me kind of queer and a security guard came over and stood by me. I showed them the picture of this deed that I had captured on my phone and then they knew I was for real and wasn’t fixing to shoot the place up.
Finally, the store I needed to open did and I was able to make my way back to the college with the supplies. I sat in the small dorm room where my son is set to make his start in life and my wife started to cry.
I knew we had better get the parting over with right then and there because it wasn’t going to get any easier if we stayed.
My wife and I stood to leave and I said, “Let’s have a word of prayer.”
I hugged Schuyler tight and prayed aloud this simple request;
“Lord, look after my son, Schuyler, and if you see him getting into trouble or walking into danger unawares, please take him gently by the hand and lead him to safety, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.”
We have done all we can do as parents. The rest is up to Schuyler. I wish him well.