In the last 21 years, I’ve driven back and forth between Indiana and Montana over 40 times (I lost count). To give my Iditarod presentations, Borage, Jigs, and I traveled over 30,000 miles a year by car, ricocheting from state to state like a steel marble in a pinball machine. When it was time to go, it never took me long to gather a few belongings (that’s all that fits in a Toyota Rav with 2 to 4 dogs), and pack the vehicle. When I departed from my parents’ house (which was often — I loved spending time at home), my dad would appear in the driveway with a bottle of windex and paper towels. He carefully washed the inside and outside of the glass, backing up to search for missed streaks. It took forever to get out of the driveway. We took photos. Both Mom and Dad petted each of my dogs… and kissed them… and said, “Behave yourself. Listen to your mother…” My mom always cried (even if I’d be back in a few days), insisting on not just one hug but several. Dad stood back and waited for his embrace. To the both of them, I said, “I love you.”
Nowadays, leaving is hard. I dread pulling out of the driveway knowing that if I look back over my shoulder neither of them will be there. No one will be standing on the blacktop waving goodbye, not moving until my car fades from sight.
People often say, “I hate good-byes…” But when I think of all the love wrapped up in a parting — whether a brief or lifelong separation — I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. Whenever I have a chance, I will say, “Good-bye…” No matter where they’re headed, I want to send my loved ones off like they’re boarding a giant ship and heading out onto unknown waters. And, like my parents taught me, I’ll wave until their vessel disappears.