Early this past Monday morning, I set out on a road trip with my son, Will. He is home on Spring Break from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and I wanted it to be a memorable one for him. Now I know that most college students would prefer to be partying with friends, doing things their parents would likely not approve of, so I was thrilled when he told me he wanted to spend that time with me. He had the opportunity to do some other things, but he chose to spend that time with me.
As a child of divorced parents, my son, not unlike many other kids with the same background, was subjected to many, many things no child should be exposed to. He saw fighting between his father and I that I’m sure scared him for life. He saw me cry what seemed like an endless stream of tears. He saw the excruciating pain his father experienced once he realized that he had destroyed his own family. He had experienced the pain of a not-so-stellar high school athletic career due to injuries and subsequent repairs to both his ACLs. He became a father in his Senior year to the most beautiful little girl in this world. He, however, had an extremely tumultuous relationship with Mia’s mother and it continues to be that way today. In very simple terms, he suffered and he suffered greatly.
I realized that throughout his entire life, he had only been on vacation once. That time came in June 2004 when we accompanied his dad to the San Francisco area, who was working at Oracle at the time. We had a fairly good time but even then, the overriding discomfort of his dad’s and my shaky marriage was a constant threat to the fun. We had been on several trips to Las Vegas and Kansas for his elite basketball games but those couldn’t be considered vacations because as he pointed out, he had to “work”. I wanted this little trip to be an enjoyable beginning to many trips we take together. As I said, I know he could have been off doing something else because as much as he loves me, he is a 19 year old college student.
Our trip wasn’t as filled with activities as I wanted it to be because Will had an inner ear-infection that decided to develop and blossom to epic proportions not the 5.5 hour ride down to the lower portion of the state. We did, however, stop at LSU in Baton Rouge because I wanted him to see the school that he ultimately wants to attend.
We made it to our destination and did a little sight-seeing before he became too sick to continue. I had made plans to take him shopping, to dinner and for a romp up and down the French Quarter but that ear infection beat my boy down. We made it to the Riverwalk and inside the outlet but I could tell, even before he told me that he was becoming nauseous that we needed to go. We left within 15 minutes of being there.
The rest of the trip was spent we me nursing him back to health after a visit to my ex brother-in-law’s home for dinner.
We made our way back to the northern end of the state Wednesday and although he didn’t have the greatest time, he told me that the time was got to spend with me made every mile of the trip special for him. He told me that he definitely wants to visit New Orleans again – with me. Just hearing that from him brought me close to tears because I regret so often the years we lost doing things together while I was fighting with his dad.
We’re heading back to NOLA for the weekend of July 4th so stay tuned. We’re going to party in the Quarter!