Elliot “Waves Goodbye” and Memory Binders Link!

Today’s the day. We are leaving our oldest child at college today. I’m trying not to be too sentimental, but yet I am sentimental.

It seems like yesterday when Elliot was born, and then he turned 3, then 12, then 16, and now he’s graduated high school (Taco Truck party, here), and off to college.

He’s been a joy and a bright spot in our family – enthusiastic and full of life. It seems like Elliot always has had a “good word” for me as a Mom. We will miss him, but we also rejoice in new adventures ahead. After all, isn’t that the goal of parenting? To raise secure, confident kids, ones who will hopefully make it on their own?

I came across a beautiful piece of writing that my husband wrote about Elliot, from 1995, saved in Elliot’s Memory Binder.

With the school year starting, I’ve had many requests for the link on saving your children’s memories – in an easy, inexpensive way. You can visit the post, HERE.

Today we leave Elliot at college … life moves so quickly, it is scary. But I am thankful for my son and that God gave him to our family.

Seeing Elliot 3/22/1995

Today at the intersection by our home, I waited for the light to turn. Sandy, my wife, came through before me, moved slowly, honked and waved. And in the back seat was Elliot, who’s turning 3.

He waved, too. His wave was new. Older, calm.

She passed before me, and from the hum of my engine I heard the future hum. Here was Elliot passing by in the symbol of progress, our white Mazda 626. His grown-up face struck me. He is becoming one of us. Social, polite, wishing to get along. Assimilating. He is a blood cell, drifting from the capillary, trying to enter the main artery, the mainstream.

And of course, as usual, I fear for him. He will live in a culture that laughs at virtue, then feigns shock when people turn trader on their family and friends. A place where materialism is cheese on the devil’s mousetrap. By people who will try – over my dead body – to steal his innocence, telling him it serves no purpose. It’s easy to give in to this apocalyptic vision.

He is growing up too fast. How many times has that been said? And how about this: Yes, I admit, I think he’s special. So full of esprit and other French words I don’t know but know they describe the nuances of the soul, the way tulips change during a fussy and brooding evening.

He waved to me the way others do. Calm, commonplace. Social mooing. Cows on the prairie, heads down, grunting nicely between bites of turf and straw.

I’ll see him wave when he boards the bright yellow school bus. When he scores his first goal. When he gets his car, graduates, perhaps even serves in a war. When he leaves our home, belly full, on a summer night. I see myself in a short sleeve cotton shirt sticking to my back as he tells us about the woman he’s going to marry.

These waves will wound me as they did today, kisses that draw me near but push me away. An invitation and a warning.

I hope he’ll always wave to me.

Paul Coughlin (Elliot’s Daddy)

One thing we are really going to miss is Elliot’s music. The piano will just have to sit for a while … (Playing with his sis at school.)

I’m also thankful that home is … home.

(The 5 winners of the Beauty & Wellness Bootcamp tickets have been contacted. Thanks to everyone who entered.)

37 comments on “Elliot “Waves Goodbye” and Memory Binders Link!”

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  4. Pingback: How to Make Memory Binders - Reluctant Entertainer - Lifestyle, Entertaining, Food, Recipes, Hospitality and Gardening by Sandy Coughlin

  5. Pingback: Day 31. Stress-Free Entertaining: A Grace-Filled Ending! — Reluctant Entertainer

  6. Sandy, what a sweet post and such a bitter sweet time of life. I’ve dropped two girls off at their first year of college (last year and three years ago now!) and I cry like a baby. When we dropped our first born off at college, the rest of the family got in the car to drive away and the tears just silently poured out of everyone’s eyes — my husband’s, other daughter, my son and mine. We all stared straight ahead but tears were falling. Wow, that was one emotional car ride home.

    In a related story, my 10 year old son still waves at us when we drop him off at school. He is not always that tender, lol, but for some reason he has his moments of sweet connection with us. He will get out of the car, look us right square in the eye through the window, and wave the most precious heartfelt little wave good bye. Most every day, ever since he has been in school, this has been his little ritual. I cry about the day that will come, probably, when he won’t do that any more. I pray he’ll do it forever, even when we drop him off at college and maybe even when he leaves on his honeymoon. OK, now I’m crying.

    Hang in there, mama!! xoxo

  7. Oh Sandy, I have not been by here in so long and I see this sweet blog about your ‘Elliot’ who is now off to college. My Elliot is now in his third year of college along with his twin sister. I love your out look here and you are so right, it is sad yet it is happy all rolled up into one. It is our job to raise them to be independent of us not on us. Many good thoughts and prayers your way for a lot of fun and I pray many blessing to come! I love the new look of your blog, although it took a little to figure it out it is still full of so many fun ideas and ways to make family and friends the center piece of your table! Blessings =O)

  8. I can barely think about the move to college. Our oldest, our daughter will be getting her drivers permit next week. How can that be? Seems like I was just beginning to get used to strapping her into her car seat.

  9. Oh my goodness. I don’t know whether to congratulate you on a job well done or open my arms so you can cry on my shoulder. Probably a bit of both, I’m sure. I can imagine you must be so excited and so proud yet, I know you will miss that part of your life together. College is such an important milestone. You’ve done a great job mom and dad!!

  10. This was really beautiful. I have a hard time picturing that time in my life, but only hope I am able to reflect on it as you have. Hugs to you.

  11. What a sweet post! I have an inkling of what you’re feeling and I’m already freaking out about when our son leaves home. But I have thoughts and plans, too, which hopefully is a good sign! For now, I’ll just enjoy the time and hopefully put some of my thoughts into words, as Paul did so beautifully. Right now, they’re all stored in my noggin…which isn’t quite as organized as your binders. :)

  12. Blessings on you Sandy, as you begin this new stage. We have been empty nesters for awhile and love it. And when our daughters come home to visit . . . it ALWAYS feels like Christmas morning.


  13. your whole family is in our hearts and prayers as you negotiate this passage. We love you each! And know how you are feeling—oh so well.xoxo

  14. As I am reading your post, I am watching my youngest who just turned 3, proudly dress himself (“all by myself”) for the 3rd time today:)….and it it truthfully pains me to think that in a short time, he will be up an out of here. Your post reminds me to enjoy every second I have. My oldest who is now 6 (going on 10) is different– she has always had a look in her eye that reminded me that my role would be temporary. I remember when she was 3, feeling like a vessel who was holding her until she was strong enough to sail out on her own. She has always had an adventuress, independent spirit, that reminded me with the wave of her hand that her presence was temporary. Thanks for posting, I am going to keep a memory box to remind me of their early spirits.

  15. Such a poignant post.

  16. Blessings to Elliott as he starts college. And blessings to mom and dad as well, because life will never be the same again. But it won’t be filled with void, but only different. This coming week I send of my youngest to his last year of college. Times change and we are forced to change with them, but God brings new things and great purpose to our lives, even after the children are grown.

    Heart-felt mom thoughts to you…

    • I can handle different. And he’s not too far :) Then there is marriage, which you’ve just been through. Fun to journey together through all of our changes in life! xo

  17. What a great post Sandy! As I watch my girls grow up it just amazes me. A few weeks ago I had to take Kaitlynn to the Local High School to get a picture taken for an ASB card (she’s homeschooled, but plays HS soccer so needed a card). I thought she’d want me to maybe wait outside, but she looked at me with that “have you lost your mind”, when I asked if she wanted me to wait in the car. “Mom, of course I want you to come in with me”. She’s growing up too fast.

    I’m sure he will do an amazing job and change lives on that campus!!

    Big hugs and lots of prayers

  18. Taking a child to college the first time is one of those bittersweet moments. You have to ask how it happened so fast. While you feel very excited about the new adventure, there’s also the knowledge that this break from home signals a new beginning in his life. One way or another we all move on.

  19. Oh Sandy, how precious. What a sweet time for your family to see God’s hand on the life of this young man as he leaves the nest for adventures unknown.
    Randy & I shared about becoming empty-nesters last night at a concert we did… and I was reminded that parenting really is about working yourself out of a job… and what a wonderful, fulfilling, humbling job it is.
    Thanks for sharing Sandy. And thank your husband!

  20. How beautifully written. My son is 10 and is growing up right before my eyes. It all seems to go too quickly, I’m trying to enjoy every moment.

  21. Wow! thanks for sharing your thoughts and Paul’s words about Elliot’s first step into the adventure of college. Paul’s words from Elliot’s Memory Binder foretold so well of how fleeting time on this Earth is and how important it is to instill godly virtues. Thank you for the gentle reminder of what is important. We will be taking a similar journey next year.

  22. Oh my goodness -I am so tearful right now -The writing your husband did is amazing -reading your blog on a daily basis I am aware how much love pours through your family and how the love extends beyond your immediate family. Elliot will enter college with confidence and a warmth will always surround him when he feels he is out there all alone. -I’m sure you will capture his wave as he turns around and heads into his dorm. May you feel the Prayers and warm thoughts from your readers.

  23. What a beautiful post about a beautiful child. Thanks for sharing your husbands heartfelt words too.

  24. Sandy, I’m about to cry! Blessings on you as you begin this new season! I have a feeling all that you’ve instilled into your son will have a ripple effect upon countless others as he takes his place on campus!

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