Monday, October 5, 2009

The Youngest Son is Leaving

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on October 3, 2009

My youngest son Nate is moving to Baltimore next week. He is moving in with his longtime girlfriend (a doctor no less) and will be starting a new job.

He is almost 28 years old, and it is perfectly normal that he leave to begin a new life. He is in love with a wonderful girl. It is what parents wish for their children.

So could somebody please explain to me why I am so sad?

Of course, next to my wife I appear ecstatic. She is trying her best to appear positive and cheerful, but it is hard when you are constantly in tears.

You see, Nate is very much his mother’s son. While he and I love each other deeply, Nate and his Mom are simply connected in a way I cannot possibly comprehend. Nate speaks “Mom”, and Mom speaks “Nate”. It’s actually rather humorous yet intimidating to watch.

Nate finishes his mother’s sentences. He knows what she is going to say before she does. When my wife is dropping the ubiquitous hints she so loves to torture me with, it is usually Nate who translates them into English. They have a love and understanding, a bond that goes well beyond the normal mother-son relationship.

My wife truly is happy for Nate, and loves his girlfriend. She was constantly sending him job postings in the Baltimore area, and even forwarded listings for condos and homes they might be interested in down there. She has known for some time this day was coming.

But now it is actually here. Next week he will be leaving. And this time he won’t be coming back except for visits and holidays and the many things we plan to drag them both back for. It’s not like the four years he spent in Virginia going to college, or the couple of years he lived in Boston. This time, it’s for keeps.

In truth, my wife is dealing with it much better than I am. This surprises me, though apparently not her. Nate and I have a somewhat different relationship from the one I share with my oldest son. While I love both equally, Nate is much more of a challenge because he is so different from me in so many ways. And the fact he is much like his mother has not always worked to our advantage.

Nate is a private person (which is why he will absolutely hate this column). Where I tend to tell everyone everything, he tells no one anything. Where I make decisions somewhat impulsively, he makes every choice like it is a life-changing process. You never make the mistake of asking Nate where he wants to go to dinner – unless you have an hour or two to properly discuss the options.

But my son is one of the most honorable people I have ever met. He is strong of character, has a big heart, and inherited his mother’s understanding of the value of family. He is smart, polite, charming and friendly. He is the kind of friend you want to have – loyal, understanding and reliable. He is every bit the man his mother and I have always wanted him to be.

I will miss going to all the Celtic games with him. I will miss rushing home to watch the Red Sox or the Patriots in our family room with him on the couch holding his laptop. I will miss him constantly proving to me he knows more about sports than I do now.

But more than that – I will miss my boy. I will miss seeing him regularly, hugging him often, and arguing with him playfully. I will miss his smile, his laugh, and his disapproving look when I mess up. I will miss my son.

We have warned them we will be visiting often and expect them back for some holidays. I will continue to tease him about taking his stuff with him when he goes. And I have asked for a written agreement that any kids he and the doctor may choose to have must be raised as Boston sport fans.

My son is moving away next week. That doctor in Baltimore is one very lucky girl.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist who feels awfully old today. He can be reached at