CREDOS : Parting gift — I

My wife and I had just finished the 150-mile trip home from our daughter’s college. It was the first time in our lives that she would be gone for any length of time. We wondered how other people had survived it. Later in bed, I thought of the time I started college. My father had driven me too. We rode in the farm truck. In the back was the trunk I had bought with money earned by pitching hay that summer. I, the fourth in a line of brothers, was the first to go away to college. My mother cried, and I cried; after we were out of sight of the farm, I began to feel scared.

The truck was slow, and I was glad. I didn’t want to get to the city too soon. I remembered how my father and I stopped by a stream and ate the sandwiches my mother had prepared. My daughter’s day was different, of course. We stopped at a classy roadside place and ordered fried chicken. Then we went to the dormitory, and my wife talked with the housemother.

My father didn’t let me stay at the dormitory. A room in a private home was cheaper and better if a student wanted to work his way through. I shook hands with my father in the truck. For a long, haunting moment he looked straight ahead, not saying a word, but I knew he was going to make a little speech. “I can’t tell you nothing,” he finally said.

“I never went to college, and none of your brothers went to college. I can’t say to do this and that, I can’t help you much with money either, but I think things will work out.”—