Many times in the last few years, I have been my son’s pack mule. When he moved from home to the college dorm, I tearfully matched his socks, folded his favorite T shirts and stacked his treasured CDs.
“It breaks my heart to move your things from your bedroom,” I sobbed. “But it’s time for you to grow up and leave the nest.”
When he moved from the dorm to an apartment a couple of years later, I rallied again.
“Now, you’re building your first beginning,” I sniffed.
This time, we collected different pieces of hand-me-down furniture from an assortment of friends.
By the end of the day, the truck bed was full of enough stuff to start my kid’s first official bachelor pad.
Most of the time, while I was playing pack mule, I must admit that I was also yelling.
(Those days of sniffing and sobbing were long gone by the second pack mule calling.)
I was yelling about the fact that my son has always lived on the third or fourth floor of not-so-wonderful apartment complexes.
Yelling because he moves on the hottest summer day, when there is no breeze.
Yelling because the truck we borrow for the occasion never has an air conditioner or an exhaust pipe.
Yelling because to drive the truck with the windows down so I don’t sweat to death also means that I have a brain tumor headache from sniffing gas fumes.
My number one yell fest occurred when I showed up with yet another clunker truck and found the entire apartment filled with black trash bags.
“This was a lot faster,” my son said with a grin. “I just threw my stuff in these trash bags instead of messing around with boxes.”
A few seconds later, I was yelling again…very loud…on the narrow staircase of the apartment complex. A tear in one of the trash bags resulted in clothes, socks and a couple of pairs of tennis shoes littering the stairs.
“This is exactly why boxes were invented,” I hissed at my kid. “Let’s not go the trash bag route again. OK?”
Last weekend, again when the temperature outside was too hot for a camel, I was again a pack mule. This time, it was for a move from Fishers to Greenwood.
My heart was happy since this time my only baby will be living much closer to me.
The mattress and box spring, the ugly old couch and half of the mangy old desk were crowded on the back of the truck. The couch cushion was thrown in the passenger seat of the truck, along with too many boxes.
To see out the passenger side mirror, I had to yank the couch cushion out of the way.
“I’m fine,” I whispered under my breath. “I can make it from Fishers to Greenwood, driving a truck packed much like Jed Clampett’s. Not a problem.”
But oh yes, it was a problem. It was a big problem.
Driving faster than 11 miles an hour made the mattress whip around like a flag in the back of the truck. Construction on the interstate also freaked me out because I couldn’t always guarantee that the couch cushion would stay out of the way so I could see out the mirror.
“Ma, where are you?” my son called my cell phone. “I don’t see you anywhere in the traffic.”
Of course it was a moment when I considered having myself a big fat yell fest. But instead, I encouraged him to stay with the traffic flow, just keep driving.
“I’ll get there when I get there,” I said. “So, I’ll see you in a few days.”
Because I was experiencing heart palpitations, I got off the interstate.
Let me mention here that I know absolutely nothing about driving in Indianapolis.
So I just had to hope that I could remain in the right lane, never have to see out the mirrors and arrive somewhere close to Greenwood.
More than an hour later, I arrived in Greenwood, with the mattress still on the truck.
My son and his friend happily unloaded all the stuff while I nursed my stress-induced headache.
Hopefully, Greenwood will be his nest for awhile. I’m not certain, but I’m thinking I might be too old now to be the pack mule.
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