If ever my adult children were to announce they are moving back home to the place where their childhood roots have withered, where they grew and matured, I'd question my hearing.
"Say what?" I'd spout, gawking in disbelief.
"We're moving home," they'd simply reply.
As with most young people today, when ours were of age, they took better jobs and sought sophisticated lifestyles and finery a distance from home.
This ever increasing migration of the young leaves us in a draught, making us needy for youth's spark and energy to return to our shrinking communities.
For most of us, the idea of having children living nearby is a pipe dream. We begrudgingly settle for driving an hour or two to spend time or catching a plane for a longer stay far from the nest.
Dealing with distance yet always glad to be reunited, we are keenly aware that our time together will never again be the same. We brood. We brood some more.
When children return for holidays, birthdays and the like, we ride high on the perfume of their momentary presence. The spring in our step is reborn, our eyes reflect contentedly, and we dote and fuss over our grown-up "little" ones.
It's been 20 years since my daughter, Vanessa, lived at home. After college, she moved to Texas and then to California. Over time, I had lost any hope of them or our two sons relocating to their old stomping grounds.
Flash forward to Christmas Day 2011, when Vanessa said over the phone, "Are you sitting down?"
"Yes," I chirped, knowing full-well, it would be good news. Mothers are experts at discerning such things. We know our children so well that we can guess with precision and accuracy the text and context of their comings and goings.
"Now, don't be upset" usually means bad news, and "I need to tell you something" is never followed by cheeriness. "Are you sitting down," however, may be something good.
Unable to wait, I jumped right in, asking, "Are you pregnant?"
"No," came her quietly contained reply.
"You're changing careers."
"Are you moving?"
"Yes," she let me indulge.
"Where?" I braced, believing it would be anywhere but here, fearing they'd move even farther away.
"We're moving home to be nearer to you."
At the sound of those honey-filled words, my whole self, every part of me from head to toe, inside and out, reverberated. Unable to speak, I shrieked, rejoicing with all of my motherly sensibilities. Pained over lost years of living apart, I then let out a guttural cry of harmonious, satiny notes that ascended in an aura of serenity.
Later I learned she had me on speaker phone, which meant my happy hootin' and hollerin' most likely carried all the way down to the Johnson elevator.
It wasn't until then that I finally allowed myself to turn and squint at visions of a reunited life together.
Our visits would no longer be frayed by goodbyes that separated us by weeks or months. Rather, they would remain tightly sewn with "See you later!" and "Let's get together tomorrow."
Eternally lonesome for my three children, I was tired of wearing a worn heart on my sleeve. Now, after hearing the melody of this joyous homecoming, I am transformed by a complete and untethered metamorphosis.
Happily moved to tears, I earnestly asked, "When?"
"Soon," was her sweet reply. "Soon."
2012 © Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on FaceBook.