Leaving by Estelle Cade

“Hmm – write about a leaving or a departure or some such – that’s a broad subject to be sure”, she thought. As a young person, I thought a lot about leaving – or others leaving. When my sister and I were young, we worried that our parents might die and we’d  have to go and live with our aunt and uncle. It wasn’t that we didn’t love them dearly and we knew they loved us in return – but – our aunt  had some very conservative ideas about how children should dress and act and we amused ourselves sometimes, dreaming up various scenarios on that theme. We’d laugh and laugh -and shudder a bit also. (Boring shoes and no lipstick seemed to feature in these visions.)

Later on, it seemed we all wanted to leave for something – we wanted to move on to the next grade, on to high school. In high school we dropped, changed, left, boyfriends, girlfriends, hobbies, activities; changed course subjects, even. Life seemed always to be fluid in some ways, although we never actually strayed far from the familiar. Teenagers talk a good game, but are less courageous than you’d think.

Adult life found us all moving on in various ways. The armed forces found many of my generation traveling to far places; we went off to college; married, “settled down” – and many of us never ventured too far from what we  knew as home territory. And now, she mused, I am older and find that I have never ‘left home’. Although I dreamed once upon a time of travelling to exotic places (I read the National Geographic Magazine all through my childhood) and have managed some trips to new places, I find that I am now the one left behind – or call me the ‘core’ person; the one who stays and is comfortable sending children out to their lives in the wider world. Although this particular apple never fell far from her New England tree (a Baldwin, perhaps?), it has produced sturdy branches in other places.

“And, she added – there is one leave-taking that will take place eventually, that affects everyone – and it’s one that no one wants to discuss – ever. No matter how practical and pragmatic one’s children may seem, talk of that final leaving they prefer to leave in limbo until they must face it. And we won’t be around to tell them how we want that last leaving to be carried out!”

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