When my older sister, Melissa, left home for the first time, went off to college at
A lot of people don't know how I got my nickname, T.S. They assume it is because of my initials,which is in small part what it is about.Where it came from really is from when I was a kid. I used to carry around everywhere a book, The Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot. My mother gave me that nickname. I still keep it and that book by my side always.
When I went down to Illinois, the fall after Melissa did, we did the same routine we had before only with a lot more stuff because I wanted to bring all of my books. After again spending some time on campus and having lunch, I hugged my parents good-bye and went into my dorm to unpack. One of the first things I did was look through my things to see where a letter from my mother might be. There was none. Later on I said something about it to Melissa and she said, “I wouldn’t take it personally. I was the first one out and I’m a girl. Maybe she just felt like needed to give me some motherly advice.” That made sense to me so I let it go.
I also liked being able to sit on the back porch with her, drinking wine spritzers, and talking like adults. One night we got into a discussion about semantics. I finished it by saying, "Mom, the thing you need to know about me is that I am not an anti-semantic." She laughed and punched me in the arm. I liked drawing faces on eggs at night and making her laugh in the morning. My father just shook his head and said, "What am I going to do with you two?"
When Mom died, I was reading As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. Probably a poor reading choice at the time. I still can't re-read it now or see the movie version of it. The time came suddenly and swift. My Dad told told us on Sunday to be prepared by Wednesday I couldn't understand because she looked well, but that is exactly what happened. She took to her bed and on Wednesday she left us. It broke my heart. I can't look at lilacs anymore like I used to.
I opened it and started reading. “My dear T.S….it is hard to believe that you are going to college when it seems like just yesterday you were my little boy. I am so proud of you...” I looked out at the clouds and I smiled.
As you can imagine, when Ben went off to college there was a secretly placed letter from me for him to find in his bag when he unpacked. I have two more to write.