Last updated: July 11. 2014 5:43PM - 924 Views

Jeff Gilliland
Jeff Gilliland
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Hello, Highland County and beyond, I’m back. Yes, I’ve been absent from this page for three weeks, but I ran into a busy stretch and then had to help a son move to Rhode Island.

Somehow I drew the assignment of driving a Uhaul all the way there, a 20-hour trip straight through, minus about a 90-minute nap at a roadside rest somewhere in New York.

Before I left one of my co-workers said he figured my first column when I got back would be about the Uhaul drive. He said that knowing me and the stories I often tell in this space, there was no way I could make an 800-mile drive in a Uhaul without running into some type of misadventure.

But I’m happy to report that the trip was pretty much uneventful, other than the six or seven toll booths we ran into. Elaine was driving her car and leading the way while I followed behind in the Uhaul and one toll booth charged $76 total for the two vehicles. By the time we were done we’d paid well over $200 in tolls, which we weren’t prepared for.

As you probably know, all the toll stops take nothing but cash and for a while we were wondering if we were going to have enough of it to get through the last toll both. We made it, but I was left wondering what the heck happens if you don’t have enough cash to pay – seeing how you’re already stuck on the turnpike and there were no ATMs in site.

Someone needs to complain about what I’d call literal highway robbery. Thanks to Google maps, we paid less than $5 in tolls on the way back and only had to drive about 30 miles farther.

While the drive there and back was pretty much uneventful, there was one other thing I hadn’t counted on. Over the years, most of my family has managed, for whatever reason, to stay relatively close to this area once they got out of school and started out on their own. But long before oldest son Tye graduated from Morehead State University this spring with a degree in exercise science, he’d expressed a desire to check out other parts of the country. I always told him that while it would be nice if he landed somewhere relatively close to home, he should follow his heart wherever it leads him.

So follow his heart is what he did – to Rhode Island – where he didn’t have a job or a place to live when he took off a couple of days before Elaine and I followed behind.

The catch is that his girlfriend from high school, Sabrina Thiel, had a job lined up at the University of Rhode Island. For the past five years they managed a long-distance relationship, him going to school in Kentucky and she at all-girls Salem College in North Carolina where she played soccer for four years.

So while I may wish their living arrangement was slightly different, such decisions long ago ceased being mine, and all I can do is give them my blessing and wish them the best of everything life has to offer.

Thinking along those lines, and considering I’d always told him he should go see the world if that was his desire, I figured I would be just fine when it came time to tell him so long. And during the four and a half days we spent on the east coast with Tye and Sabrina, nothing happened to change my mind. It was nice to see where they will be living, wonderful to see that they’re in a beautiful corner of the county, and even better to spend some time with them.

Heck, I even texted my sister, who recently went through a similar situation when most of her family moved to Texas but her daughter stayed behind in Dayton, that I was kind of envious of Tye. He’s about four blocks from the nearest beach, in a scenic part of the country (at least in the summer) and is embarking on what seems to me to be a great adventure.

As we were loading our bags to go our separate ways I still thought I was fine. And I was – until I went to give Tye a hug goodbye. The moment I embraced him, my mind went blank, I was at a complete loss for words, and a big lump was stuck in my throat. Had I said anything, tears would have followed and, well, you know, that’s just not cool for most of us guys.

After the hug I slowly settled into our car, looked at Tye and Sabrina, and never realized I hadn’t told him I love him until he said it first. And we were backing away before I quickly recounted what had just transpired and realized that I’d never thought to give Sabrina a hug.

So, son, know these things. As much as your mother and I want you to follow your dreams and find your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it was very hard for us to let go of someone we’ve held so precious in hearts for so many years. Know that I think back to the times when you were a baby and you were sleeping on my chest on the couch and I swear our hearts were beating to the same rhythm. Know that I am proud of you. Know that you’ve made our lives more full than we could have hoped for. Know that home will always be here.

And know that wherever you go, part of us will be with you, and you with us.

I love you, Tye. See you soon.

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