By Karen Ciminelli
I did it! I aced the final exam. I didn’t realize, as the day was approaching, that the finals were imminently near.
This has been a 30-year journey in the making. At the beginning, daily, no, hourly quizzes, gradually fading over time to longer periods of just going with the flow with a pop-up quiz here and there.
It all began 30 years ago when a 5-pound, 12-ounce bundle was placed in my arms. I had envisioned a Hallmark moment – birds singing, violins playing, the scent of roses wafting through the air. The reality was a tiny creature peering into my eyes as if to say, “I’m here! Now what?!” and an overwhelming emotion on my part that no harm would ever come to this beautiful creation.
“Oh, look at his broad shoulders. He’s going to make a great football player.”
“No,” my brain was shouting, “Over my dead body! I will never allow this most perfect being to be placed in harm’s way. I will keep him safe and undefiled. I will tend to him and watch him bloom. I will protect him from all the perils that living a life here on Earth might bestow.”
Over time, perils did befall him – childhood illnesses and the need for stitches. And over time, he made choices that put him, in my eyes as the ultimate protector, in harm’s way – playing football and rugby.
And I tended this beautiful flower as I watched it grow and bloom. I fed him wholesome foods so he could grow healthy and strong. I provided shelter from the storms of life.
Then, a year and a half ago, I got “The Call.” From halfway around the world, my son was engaging me in a two-hour conversation about nothing in particular, just ramblings. This from a person who, if you get a three-minute conversation out of him, you feel like you’ve won the lottery.
After two hours of chit chat, and unable to discover the underlying cause of such a drastic change in communication style, I say, “Well, thanks for calling. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. I’ll talk to you again soon.”
Then I hear, “Wait, um, Mom, um, I’ve met someone.” There it is, the reason for he call.
After a bit more conversation, I found out that it’s just early days, a few dates, and he tells me a few details of this new and intriguing person in his life. He tells me reasons that pursuing this relationship may not be a good idea – she’s from another culture, her parents may not accept him, it would keep him away from his family. And I listen quietly, knowing that he does not really want advice. He has a well-developed sense of who he is and the direction in which he wants his life to go.
Fast forward six months. He’s bringing this girl home to meet me. This girl who is foreign to me, who has been raised with different values, whose life is halfway around the world. And then she’s here and within minutes I am smitten. Her foreign values are not so foreign. She’s hard working and driven. She loves and respects her family. She treats others with kindness and inclusiveness. Her sense of humor and fun-loving spirit are infectious.
And on Thursday, we celebrated the union of these two people. The one with the eyes that once implored, “Now what?!” and the stranger who is a stranger no more.
And so on Thursday, I did it! I aced the final exam. I graduated summa cum laude. And soon my son will start a garden of his own.
Karen Ciminelli, of Buffalo, is grateful that her son found a wonderful woman to marry.