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Leaving Amanda at College:
Life Changes. Age 57

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

We knew it was coming, the day Amanda would leave for college. She had finished high school with honors and had been accepted to a number of excellent colleges. My wife Nancy, and I knew that going away to college was a right-of-passage. She was ready and eager to go, and we thought we were too.

To prepare for her send off, Nancy and Amanda went shopping for all the necessities of dorm life. We had a large family gathering to send her off, which served to pad her bank account substantially. We hinted in the invitations that she was going to be a poor starving student for a few years.

What I remember most about that gathering was saying grace before the meal. Saying grace is always emotional for me, especially when the reason for the gathering is so momentous.

I thanked everyone for coming to support and say farewell to Amanda. Their love for my daughter, my lovely girl, my little chick whose flapping wings would soon carry her away, overwhelmed me. Before I could even finish saying thank you to everyone I choked up and could barely get the words out. Finally, I made it to "Amen" and we broke the circle to begin serving ourselves.

Yolanda, my sister-in-law, came up to me and warned me it was going to be a lot worse when I dropped her off at college.

The anticipation grew. Nancy, Amanda, her brother Javier, and I packed up the truck and started on the two-hour drive. After unloading, we went to the cafeteria, and everything was great. No tears, staying strong.


Then it came time to say goodbye.

Javi gave her a big bear hug, all was still good. Nancy was next, and she was choking back the emotion, but holding it together. When it was my turn, I thought I saw Amanda trying to hold back tears, and it was all over for me. I gave her a hug and couldn't stop the emotions welling up inside of me.

The three of us walked away with tears in our eyes, leaving Amanda to her new life. We couldn't talk for fear we would just start blubbering out loud. Nancy and I cried the whole way home, tears flowing for two hours straight. Javier even cried more than he expected.

Our reaction to this event is puzzling. We knew we were just doing what needed to be done. It was the best thing for Amanda, but we still cried.

Eventually, of course, everyone recovered and adjusted. She quickly adapted to her independence. She'd come to visit and was happy to see us, but she was always happy to get back to her own pad. That is the way it should be. That is life.

Still, I began to dread the day I would have to drop my son off.

~ Andrew Laufer








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