We are in the final countdown, waiting to hear that Ev has arrived safely in Saigon, South Vietnam. I am staying close to the phone today; I don't want to miss his call.
The first three messages on our answering machine have been there for what seems like forever. Each time there has been a missed call of Ev's from some distant land, we have saved the sound of his voice sending his love. Rather than skip thru them to find our real messages for the day, I always listen to each one, again, treasuring my son's humor, listening to the background noises from far away...and hearing the changes in this maturing young man.
The first one is Ev calling to wish me "Happy Bastille Day" (my birthday) from the salmon factory out on the Alaska Peninsula. The next message carries snarky panic in his voice as he tries to figure out what the *&%# he is going to do as he stands in a northern airport in India far, far away from his waiting entourage in southern India. That call came at 2:14 a.m.; we missed it because we were sleeping. When we found it the next morning and were unable to get ahold of Ev, I starting a slow steam directed toward my husband for ever allowing him to travel by himself. He sensed that I was about to spout, so he placed both his hands on each of my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and assured me that "he will figure this out."
Ev figured "this" out, but as I recall, there were a couple of panicked phone calls placed by my husband to the Institute where Ev was supposed to land for the semester. The timing was perfect on the third call. The desk attendant announced that Mr. Hudson had just arrived and the celebration on his behalf was commencing. My husband patiently explained that we would like to talk with our son, so we waited as the gentleman ran to retrieve him. Ev came on the line out of breath and full of joy and love. He had arrived safely, tired and hungry; everyone was attending to his every need. "Guys, guys, I am OK....besides there is an elephant at my party and I want to meet him!
The third message arrived on March 17, 2009. I had driven to Iowa City to take my son to lunch, then to the airport in Cedar Rapids so he could spend Spring Break in DC with a high school friend. They were going to go to a political rally on The Mall. When I found this message later that evening, his voice was full of gratefulness. He wanted us to know that he had arrived safely. He also wanted to say thanks for the plane ticket and the extra $$$ I had slipped him for food/cab fare...just in case....and that he had figured out the bus schedule to get to Drew's. "I love you guys."
My husband received a text message on his phone at noon yesterday. Ev was about to board plane #2 for Seoul, South Korea on his way to Vietnam. In his "last purely American act", he had just consumed a MacMeal...food he normally never eats. But then this was not a normal day for him. His departing words, which I am sure Paul will keep on his phone, reads, "And I am off!!!!"