Rites of Passage


It’s become a rite of passage.

Figuratively and literally.



Four years ago, when my oldest son Eric received his PhD in chemistry from the University of Utah, I flew out to Salt Lake City, rented a U-Haul truck and car towing trailer, and together we drove 2,081 miles to Statesboro, Georgia, where the following week he began teaching at Georgia Southern University.

So, a few weeks ago, when my younger son Blake received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina, we began making plans for a similar trek to Dallas, where he is about to begin a five-year surgery residency in urology.



On this past Saturday morning we emptied the contents of his apartment into a 20-foot U-Haul truck and began our 1,060-mile journey through North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, arriving in Dallas mid-morning on Monday.

Naturally, we were concerned about Covid-19 closures and exposures, and went armed with extra masks and hand sanitizer. Unfortunately, from the U-Haul rental office to each of the rest stops and gas stations we had to use, Blake and I were nearly the only ones wearing masks. But at least some people were standing on the yellow squares marking safe distances from each other….

A small step in the fight to stem the tide, I guess.



We were fortunate that our truck chugged along fine, never missing a beat; our packing was perfect, with nary a broken plate or scratched piece of furniture, despite some enormous potholes; and other drivers were courteous of our wide turns and slow lane transitions in our heavily-loaded truck.

(And, yes, there were some Arts and Crafts pieces inside, which accounted for the extra strain on the engine. And our backs.)



But the U-Haul truck has now been traded in for a rental car while Blake and I unpack boxes, do some minor refinishing on his apartment patio, and hang artwork before I fly back to Asheville.

Would it have been easier, in both instances, to have hired professional movers?

Of course, but besides being twice as expensive, the moving companies would only give us a two-week window when his furniture might arrive.

And having once, decades ago, made a comfortable living refinishing and repairing furniture tossed around by professional movers, I was ready to accept full responsibility.

Besides, how often do any of us get the opportunity to spend five days, one-on-one, with any of our children?

It’s a rite of passage I will always look forward to.


Until next week,


Regardless of the difficulty of your project, if your son or daughter ever asks, “Can I help?” — your answer is always, “Yes.”


And if it takes a little longer, consider yourself lucky.