In my family, I'm the second oldest of eight children. My siblings and I attended a Lutheran prep school during my high school years. Martin Luther Prep School was in Prairie du Chien,Wisconsin. Our home was in Washington state. Most years, during the school year, we only got home at Christmas.
But what a joyful homecoming it always was. For those few days we were home, we were the center of attention.
First was the buzz of activity at the airport. The excited greetings from Mom and Dad first, and then all the younger siblings. A happy circle of attention. But how did those little ones get so big? They were always so much bigger than when we left home!
Next was the hellos and hugs with the families of the other students from our area who also attended MLPS. There were three families besides ours, in the Puget Sound area, whose kids attended school with us. It was always great fun to see everyone at those airport reunions each fall when school started, returning and leaving again at the Christmas holiday, and at the end of the school year each spring.
After the initial greetings, and a frantic look to make sure everyone was accounted for, we took off on the mad rush to the baggage claim and eventually out to the parking ramp. There was the ride on the subway from the satellite terminal to the main one. Escalators, subways, more escalators, the baggage claim conveyors, at each point the recorded voice, in several languages, directing newcomers in the right direction and warning all to use due caution with the automated doors and other dangers. Everyone aglow with the excitement of togetherness. Families reunited. Loved ones together after a lengthy separation.
Eventually Mom and Dad managed to get us all in the suburban. Then the trip home. We lived about 45 minutes from the airport, so we had a little bit of a drive amidst all the excitement. Everyone had so much to tell about and ask about. Everyone talking at once. I was always eager to show off how much more mature and intelligent I was than when I left. "Really. Mom. Dad. See. I am growing up."
Often it was late when we got home, so the first meal home might be breakfast the next day. But again, that buzz of excitement. Younger siblings wanting to sit closest to big sisters. Big sisters eager to make up for all the love and affection from these dear little ones that they had missed while away. And to shower them with the same.
I'm thinking of this today because my Jeremy is home. Yesterday, after Joe went into Thief River Falls to help Jeremy pack his things to move into his new apartment, he came home with Joe. Jeremy has two days to stay. This reunion is somewhat different than those from my childhood. There is no airport, no lengthy car ride with everyone talking at once. But there is the same buzz of excitement. Everyone wants to be with Jeremy. Everyone wants to be his favorite.
Jeremy, in his way, showers the little ones with affection. He brought his "Magic the Gathering" cards to play with those who enjoy such escapes from reality. He brought, believe it or not, a TV, a wii, and a ps3. Right now, as I'm writing here in the living room, Jeremy has the TV set up on the piano bench. The little ones are gathered around on stools and couches. They are watching Jeremy play something. Probably I don't want to ask. Sophie just commented on the pool of blood...
"What game is that Jeremy?"
"Dark Souls. The hardest game to come out this year."
Yes, my son is a gamer. Shaggy hair, ripped trousers, shoes taped together. At least that's how he looked last week. I did the parental bale-out thing and bought him new pants and shoes. I was glad to note yesterday when he arrived, that he was wearing his new things. I have no idea what he wears when he is away, but at least he appeased his mom by wearing decent clothes when he came to visit. Apparently, customers at the Wal-Mart where he works have commented on his shaggy hair, because he mentioned that he had to buy some hairbands to use at work, to keep the jungle out of his face.
But yes, this older sibling homecoming thing seems to be universal. Mom watching for signs of maturity. Younger siblings excited to see their brother and get his attention. Big brother bringing toys along to ingratiate himself with the younger ones. Different but the same. Families together. Love.
I love my oldest son. Heart and soul. I love to see everyone so happy together. I love the familiar feeling of such homecomings and the memories it called forth this morning.