Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ships Passing in the Night?

My sweet little bride is a Barry Manilow fan. Of course this causes her boys to cringe. That is just beyond their comprehension. I must confess that I join the banter when they tell her that Manilow’s song entitled “Mandy” was written about his dog. Actually if the truth be known I planted that seed in their young minds quite a number of years ago. And as far as I know such a conclusion is based on some urban legend generated by a Barry Manilow hater. But nevertheless we continue to impress that thought on Jan, as if it were true.

I hate to admit this at all, but there is one particular Manilow song that actually causes me to pause and think every time I hear it. Here is a portion of the lyrics:


We walked to the sea
Just my father and me
And the dogs played around on the sand
Winter cold cut the air
Hangin' still everywhere
Dressed in gray, did he say
Hold my hand
I said, love's easier when it's far away
We sat and watched a distant light
We're two ships that pass in the night
We both smile and we say it's alright
We're still here
It's just that we're out of sight
Like those ships that pass in the night
There's a boat on the line
Where the sea meets the sky
There's another that rides far behind
And it seems you and I are like strangers
A wide ways apart as we drift on through time
He said, it's harder now, we're far away
We only read you when you write
We're two ships that pass in the night
And we smile when we say it's alright


The passing ships are a symbol of a young man’s relationship with his father. There does not appear to be open animosity, but they feel like strangers to each other. In fact, their relationship reflects a cordial appearance of sorts. “We both smile and say it’s alright…” But it is not alright. A father and son’s relationship being characterized as two ships passing in the night is not acceptable.


As a parent of a soon to be 22 year old, and even sooner to be 15 year old along with a third one who just turned 19 I yearn for the days when I told them exciting bed time stories that I made up as they were being told. I am nostalgic about the days of bunk beds, camping trips and lunches at school. But those days are long gone.


I am fearful that we will become like ships passing in the night. That is not alright in my estimation. Today marks the first day of a significant summer for me. In all likelihood, this will be the last summer that all three boys will live under my roof at the same time. Randall will graduate from college in December. Daniel may or not come back home for the summer months from this point forward. Even Mitchell’s summers at home are numbered.

I hope to make the best of it. And I would encourage my friends with children the same age as mine to do likewise. College kids returning home after being independent is not the always the best scenario. But it is a final opportunity to be in the same ship together. And that is of course is a good thing .

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