Monday, September 20, 2010

A New Chapter: Theresa's off to College

My sister Theresa and I on the day of her high school graduation.
I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that my youngest sister Theresa moved into her dorm room at The Ohio State University yesterday. I can’t honestly say it feels like just last week when Mary and I were out trick-or-treating with our neighbors when our baby sister was born. It feels like it was a long time ago, but it’s really strange having her go off to school.
    
This has been an interesting few weeks as the two little guys I nannied for had their first day of kindergarten, and my youngest sister who in many ways I was like an “other mother” to, especially when she was little, is off to college. I feel like I should go pull out the photo albums, look at the baby pictures, the toddler years, and marvel at how much she’s grown, how some things have really changed and how others have remained the same. Maybe I’ll wait and do that once my mom gets home from helping Theresa get settled in her dorm room, so we can ooh, aah, and reminisce together.     
It doesn’t feel all that long ago that Theresa was visiting me for a long weekend in the fall of 2002 while I going Hollins University. She was in fifth grade at the time, and was the same age/grade I was when she was born. We’re eleven years and five days apart. You can only tell us apart in some of our baby pictures because of the people and furniture around us.
    
She’s gone from being a Rebel, the mascot of her high school, to a Buckeye. Hopefully this switch from having a mascot that’s a troublemaker to one that’s simply a deciduous tree will be a smooth one.

Here are some excerpts from the letter I gave her before she left:

I honestly believe you’re going to be one of the people who really gets the most out of college in all areas. You’ll have fun making friends, come into your own as a dancer, find out what it’s like to live on your own, and figure out more about who you are at your core.
     
It’s okay and perfectly normal if you find yourself missing your friends, your room, your mom, and perhaps once in a great while even your sisters. It’s quite likely that the people around you will feel that, too, sometimes. Give yourself time to get used to living in a new place, making new friends, and taking college courses. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel about your new surroundings, new classmates, etc. In many ways, college is like the people closest to you, it will bring out the best in you and at times it will bring out the worst. It’s the whole wherever you go, there you are thing.
     
You went over to Europe and traveled around, enjoyed exploring, learning new things, had fun shopping, and got to do some adventuresome things, though you really enjoyed the family feel of being on the farm and having a big Sunday dinner and a grandmamma to fuss over you. You’re an adventuresome, upbeat type, so you’ll make this transition pretty smoothly, I’d imagine.
     
The more time you spend talking and hanging out with your new friends instead of talking to, texting or e-mailing your friends back home, the faster you’ll feel comfortable there and get into a new groove. The people you became close friends with in high school are going to grow and change, just like you will, but you’ll still be able to reconnect quickly during breaks and things when you’re all back in Richmond, because you’ve had so many years you’ve known each other.
    
Lord, please use these next four years of her life to draw her ever closer to You, help her to see the beauty she possesses inside and out, and develop the gifts and talents You have given her to glorify You. Amen.
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