My Scrambled Nest

An Almost-Empty Nest Journey of "Letting Go" With Laughter and Love, By Cathy Free

At the height of my sorrow several weeks ago when I thought that my mother was dying, I escaped for a night at the Utah Symphony to find comfort in Rachmaninoff and Elgar. Shortly before the concert started, I thought that I recognized the back of a young man’s dark blond head, five rows in front of me. He was wearing a bright red sweater and appeared to be engaged in an animated conversation with two young women seated next to him.

Suddenly, he turned his head, and I realized that I’d been watching my 19-year-old son, out for a night of culture with some of his University of Utah friends. The first thing I thought was “Wow! I must have done something right!” Then, I wondered: “What kind of college kid prefers to spend his Friday night listening to classical music instead of cranking the rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop tunes at the dorm with his pals?”

My kid, that’s who. My eyes misted over with pride.

At intermission, I approached him, arms outstretched, and he looked panicked for a minute, like a jack rabbit deciding whether to hide in the sagebrush or bound across the highway. But then he smiled, gave me a quick hug and introduced me to the seven friends who had ridden downtown with him on the Trax train and bought discounted student tickets to the night’s performance.

“I wondered if I might see you here,” he said. “Wasn’t the first half awesome? I’m glad you came.”

“Likewise,” I replied, resisting the urge to pull him in close and rumple his hair the way I do when he comes home for Sunday dinner. “Anytime you’d like to take somebody to a concert and there are no student tickets, let me know and I’ll give you my seats. Or, better yet, you can be my date.”

As the girl next to him grinned, he blushed and quickly changed the subject, saying he wasn’t sure what time he’d come by on the weekend because he had to study for a chemistry final. “I’ll see you soon, though, Mom, OK?”

“OK,” I said, waving at his friends. “Enjoy the Elgar, everyone.” Returning to my seat, I couldn’t stop smiling. During intermission at the symphony over the years, I have bumped into lots of people, from former coworkers to old boyfriends, neighbors, politicians, even my doctor. But an unexpected encounter with my son was a first.

Hope will survive, I know now, with the next generation. ☺️🎶




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