the only thing he would regret leaving was the sky

Ty & Ronald

I wrote about him in my first “official” blog post back in February of 2008.

Way back when the road seemed it would go on forever just as it ever had.  Sure, they’ll grow up, I told myself. 


Tomorrow will be the day before the day his mom and I move him into the dorms.  Just across town, his bedroom door less than a couple miles from where I help make the ice cream.  He will have three roommates he has never met before.  They are friends from the same hometown high school.  He shrugs it off but admits he is not thrilled with the possibility that he will be the awkward fourth wheel.  Or maybe not noticed at all.   

No meal plan so he will be pigging on Ramen noodles.  Twizzlers.  Pancakes when I can sneak over and whip some up for him.  And McDonald’s when he can get a ride. 

2012-05-19 19.15.05 They have dated since the second week of freshman year.  He knew her twin brother but had never met her.  They DDR’d into the wee hours and never looked back. 

She is my other daughter, an effervescent, hope-filled toothy grin and a welcome addition to our family for these past nearly four years.  The one that calls at one in the morning because she is a night person.  That took some getting used to.  They learned to text together.  To hold hands at twilight and just sit and listen.  She is My Little Pony to his Lord of the Rings.  Twister to his Dungeons & Dragons. 

And she is going to school in Michigan.  There is a long dotted line between here and there. 

He is taking a communications class, some literary criticism, some statistics, a couple other I cannot recall, and a philosophy class for which I pulled some strings to get him registered.  The professor is an old friend and he will make my son think.  And I know he will be impressed.

I am. 

Every day.

I have given him what I can.  It is a far cry short, materially.  But maybe that stuff will not matter so much.  Despite my inclinations, I believe he means it when he says I have given him enough. 

At least he looks snazzy . . .

2012-05-19 19.04.27

Would you do me a favor?  You continue to come here and read my stuff because you care.  I know you do.  And you’re also smart.  You’ve been there, either as a student yourself or as a parent.  Perhaps you’ve even had to shove one out of the nest yourself. 

I’d like this post to be a place where he can come again and again and receive encouragement.  To read, and feel in his heart, the love and respect of others.  So would you take a few moments and leave a comment?  Some words that have guided you, or that you’ve passed on to others heading off down a new, open road. 

Thank you . . .

33 thoughts on “the only thing he would regret leaving was the sky

  1. Wow….brings back so many emotions with our girls and Dave & I being ‘Empty-Nesters” now. so many thoughts and memories swirling in my head.I need a lttile time before posting anything else.

  2. Good luck, Ty. The world is filled with equal parts harsh realities and pleasant surprises. The adventure is your journey of learning and understanding these things, and then continuing to grow into an awesome man. It’s been fun gaming with you and I look forward to more gaming together. I promise not to kill your character right away. 😉

  3. My words of encouragement & advice: College is the Big Adventure. You can be whoever you want to be. You can keep trying on different shapes and sizes of You until you find one that fits comfortably. If you’re not sure what you want to do with your life yet, *that’s ok.*

    In fact, don’t just take classes that seem safe. Take crazy stuff. Physics, water ballet, poultry science; you’ll never regret it.

  4. Good luck!! Makes me think about my little girls growing up and moving on…. they are still so small but I know someday they won’t be.

  5. I make no claims to be an expert on life, laddie, but I can say this:

    1) If times get tough, don’t let the darkness eat you up.
    2) Think for yourself. That way, your mistakes, and your triumphs, will be your own. You can fix the former and revel in the latter.
    3) Pay attention. Details matter.
    4) Never forget that people are people, not problems to be solved.
    5) Learn everything you can. Knowledge never goes out of style.
    6) Savor the Now. It will always be where you are.

    Wishing you good luck and great fortune in the next chapter of the book that is you.


  6. Oh, your dad loves you so. Do you feel it? I have nothing but admiration for the path you’re about to take. You have it all ahead of you — nothing to lose, everything to gain. Be a star. Shine brightly and guide others home.

    Good luck.

  7. You are a beloved human, Ty – that is clear. i met you and the clan once at the Air Force Museum and i will never forget that day. i learned the true power of a family. a REAL family.

    words of wisdom? encouragement? well, as a life-long stumbler, i have survived the darkest moments because of the words of my father. “The measure of a man is not how he handles success. Success is easy. Anyone can do that. True character is defined by how we deal with failure”.

    may your failures be few, young man! Onward!

  8. My advice is practical: The secret to success in college is to manage your time well. You will spend far less time in class than you’re accustomed to because you’re expected to think, learn and work on your own time. Don’t let the tests and deadlines sneak up on you. Don’t see your classes as a burden but as an opportunity to explore big ideas and unknown worlds. Take those ideas out of class and discuss them with people you meet.

    And Ty, I have years of experience with long distance relationships. My husband and I wrote letters for 2.5 years before we were married (back in the days before e-mail and cell phones and cheap long distance calls). Years after we were married, we were separated again and had a commuter marriage for nearly two years, living in different cities, seeing each other on weekends, also in the era before electronic communications made it possible to be in touch all day. We trusted each other as much as we loved each other and that trust was the key.

  9. this reminds me of a poem I read a LOT when I was first away from home, doubting everything…. it’s titled “to a sad daughter”, but there are a few universal lines, ones that my father would have never said to me but that I knew he felt anyway:

    “You step delicately
    into the wild world
    and your real prize will be
    the frantic search.
    Want everything. If you break
    break going out not in.
    How you live your life I don’t care
    but I’ll sell my arms for you,
    hold your secrets forever.”

    Your father so clearly wants everything for you, as well he should. Remember what he’s taught you. it does matter, and will come back at the most irritating times, trust me. But embrace the newness, embrace the challenge, and no matter how many times one of us old people tell you to appreciate it, try to stop and just breathe. These moments will never be again.

    (and long distance? Worth it. 🙂 Just did 2 years of it, and now together. Hardest thing you’ll do, but if you’re worth it to each other, you’ll be just fine)

    Enjoy it, both of you. I’m still 10 years away from this day, and already I cry.

  10. You may not realize it now, and it may not feel that way when you’re sitting in a classroom listening to some monotone professor drone on about a subject of little interest, but this journey you’re embarking on is truly a time of huge growth and more than a little magic.

    You’ll butt your head up against mediocrity and old ideas, but you’ll also be newly sparked by brilliance and new ways of thinking. Your own creativity will be heightened and if you listen to your own voice, you’ll feel a calling (maybe more than one) that will guide your future in ways you may have never considered.

    And wow….to be loved as you are. That is truly the greatest gift of all.

  11. You know you can always call/text Aunt Kari to come get you.

  12. Go live and learn. Open your eyes to things you haven’t seen and experiences you haven’t had. Don’t accept everything that you are told as being the only truth but don’t automatically assume it isn’t either.

    There are very few “mistakes” that can truly change your life. Most of those are obvious.

    The point is that some “mistakes” may take you to some amazing places. Enjoy the journey as best you can and don’t get too caught up on the end result. It is important but it shouldn’t prevent you from being present in the moment either.

  13. Being a teacher of college freshmen (English!) I can tell you that it won’t be easy but it’s all worth it. Go to class, be present. Not just there but everywhere. Look around. Know that who you are now is not necessarily who you’ll be when you finish. But you will build on it and it’s a magical thing.

  14. Study what you love. Get a degree. That’s all that matters. (Oh, have fun and check in with your parents, too). 🙂

  15. Ty,
    I could get really poetic here or really somber, but I won’t. You’ve been given a wonderful gift by your parents, so don’t screw it up. 😉 Many would give much to be in your place today. Get out of bed and get to class on time. Do the homework. Have fun. Live life. You’ll have times where you’ll question why you’re here. You’ll have other times that will give you a resounding “yes”. I wish you well, sir.

  16. your dad has a great big brain. and a great big heart, too. if he passed both of those things on to you (which i’m sure he did), then you’re all set. because college is about filling both of those things up. to the point where they’re overflowing.

  17. Ok…here goes after thinking & reminising about not only my girls,but my own life once I left home.
    1).Be True to yourself
    2).Remember who HAS and ALWAYS will have your Back…your Parents & Family.Family WILL ALWAYS be there for you.Let them know every chance you get how much you Respect them,Appreciate them & Love them.
    3).ENJOY Life,LIVE Life & LAUGH….Laughter heals all kinds of aliments.
    4).Listen and learn from your Elders…..they have been where your at…they have good sound advise.
    5).Learn to Budget & save your money….invest wisely.
    7). Give back to your Community.
    8).Your Character,who you are is what people will remember about you….not the amount of money you make,house you have, materials things are just that,material things.
    Dave & I wish you the best of luck…you will do well.Life is hard,but it’s how you view life as to how hard you let it be.Take a long,deep breath in….exhale long & slow and enjoy every moment to the fullest.
    Life is short,don’t take it so seriously that you overlook the wonderful Blessings in the littlest of things,for that is where the greatest Blessings are.
    You have wonderful parents who have raised you into a wonderful young man……Go,Live,Laugh,Love & enjoy the wonderful adventure your life and future hold.You are the beginning and ending of your book…each chapter written by you.”Dance Like no-one is watching”, “Sing like no-one is listening” and ENJOY LIFE TO THE FULLEST!

  18. This is something you’ll learn yourself, slowly, through college and beyond, but it may be nice to hear now from someone else: it’s going to be okay. Really. There are a lot of things that seem like a big damn deal in the moment, things that are absolute agony right now, anything from a terrible fallout with a friend to a major screwup in your GPA to getting fired from your first “real” job to whatever. Those things will suck. But you will survive and you’ll figure out a comeback and everything will be more than okay. It can be super annoying when old(er) people tell you that time gives you perspective and blah blah blah but it really, honestly, is true.

    Also, if you spend the next few years making really good friends and BEING a really good friend, you will reap the benefits for the rest of your life. You may change your major thirteen times, you may end up in a complete different career than you anticipated, the stuff you learn one semester may be obsolete the next but being genuine and kind and caring about people never goes out of style, and is always rewarding. ALWAYS.

    Enjoy staying up all hours of the night with no ill effects because when you’re 30 it will PAINFUL to go to work on 2 hours of sleep. Paaaaainful.

    Sit up front & take lots of notes. Exercise your God-given right to cut class occasionally and judiciously. Participate in class discussions, profs love that. If you find a teacher your really like, take as many classes with him/her as you can – you’ll learn more when you find the subject matter interesting. Back up your files regularly. Leave for class early on exam days because the parking lots and coffee bars will be PACKED. Don’t be insulted when a prof asks you to do something over again – its because he/she sees more potential in you than you’re currently using. Always ask the stupid questions, you’ll be glad you did (and so will the other people who were wondering the same thing).

    Enjoy the person you’re becoming. You will learn so much about yourself and have so much fun.

  19. If I could have a do-over of any season of my life, it would be my college years. I would tell myself to stress less, do homework every day (read V-Grrls words!), journal more, and enjoy the privilege that is education.

    And that dotted line between your girlfriend and you (perfect description, Pops)? View it as a lovely connect the dots picture. If you go from dot to dot, the picture always turns out cool.

    You’re embarking on one of the most exciting times of your life. Don’t let a *potentially* clique-y roommate situation, a dinner of Twizzlers, or some temporary long-distance love, do anything other than add to the richness of your journey and the awesomeness of your story value.

    And may I just say? Your hair is INCREDIBLE!

    Best of luck to you, Ty! I believe you’re going to knock this one outta the park…you need to know it! :)))

    PS: Nice job, Mom and Dad!

  20. Dear Ty,
    Your parents are so proud of you, and I cannot even begin to describe the size of their love for you. I know how big the love of your babies is, because I have a whole bunch of them. But the measuring and telling of the colour and depth of it is quite beyond me.

    I hope that this new stage of your life will reveal passions, ignite curiosity, and cause your roots to dig deep into the ground. I hope that you are tested, stretched, and filled to overflowing, and that you allow no one to put you anywhere but where you belong. I hope you learn to work, to find value in struggling, and to learn that mistakes are not an end product, but just another step in the process. I hope you find a kindred spirit, a brother of your heart, and that you learn how to cultivate an intimate friendship in this disposable culture of ours.

    Be blessed beyond your wildest imaginings. And never, ever hesitate to go home. Your mom and dad will be your soft place to fall no matter what the circumstance or situation, always and forever.

  21. probably the best advice i ever got was our cub scout motto – Do Your Best.

    To that i would add – don’t make excuses or try to pass blame, accept your errors and learn from them. And don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve something, or dismiss you. Success is not an easy road, but it is travelable

    And finally – always keep an open mind and don’t assume your point of view is the only one. As Obi-Wan once said “you’re going to learn that most of the truths we cling to depend largely on your own point of view”

  22. wow, i’m 40 and i think i may stop by here now and then just to soak up all this advice and love, even if it’s directed at you. 😉

    that would be my advice…take all the good you can, wherever you can find it.

  23. Ty, I’ll tell you exactly what I recently told my son for I think it applies universally —

    “Life’s too short to take it seriously.”

    Loosely translated — “If you ain’t havin’ fun, you ain’t doin’ it right!”

  24. You’ve gained enough XP in High School. Time to level up.

    For the girlfriend thing? Use everything technology affords you. Skype, texting, etc. Give her space but don’t let her forget you either.

    I leave you with something a wise man once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

  25. All this time I’ve been wondering what TYS stood for in “@tysdaddy.” Duh. :}

    Congratulations, Ty! Here are three(+) things I would like to go back and tell my college-freshman self.

    1. College is an adventure—intellectually, emotionally, and hopefully literally. Don’t spend too much time online. See as much of the world as you can, and when the thought of doing something new scares you, swallow your fear and do it. That’s how you grow.

    2. If it’s “meant to be,” long-distance relationships are totally do-able.

    3. Don’t listen to anybody who tries to pooh-pooh your dreams; most of the time they’re only giving voice to their own frustrations, and that’s nothing to do with you. Only pay attention to the people who love you, when they tell you you can do it.

    Enjoy yourself. Love your life. All the best!

  26. I remember when I arrived at the dorm the week before my freshman year at the University of Texas. I was supposed to be rooming with a guy named Jashin, who I’d never met. I walked into the room, followed by my mom and her then boyfriend. There was this pasty dude passed out on one of the beds in his tighty-whiteys, ashes all over the carpet from spilled cigarettes, and an American flag draped over the nightstand with candles dripped all over it. My mom walked in behind me and said, “Is that Jashin?” It was not Jashin.

    Pete eventually woke up and introduced himself. He lit a cigarette and sat on the bed in his underwear watching us move in. He turned out to be an allright guy, though definitely very messy. He painted an enormous mural of Jimi Hendrix’s face on the wall of our dorm room, which was, as you can probably guess, quite against regulations. He ended up getting kicked out of the dorm shortly before the year was over.

    I put all this here not as some kind of horror story, but just to illustrate that though it was messy and did not at all go according to plan, my first year away from home was a lot of fun. A lot of crazy unpredictable fun with a lot of very interesting people. Enjoy the hell out of it.

  27. Greetings from “Highway Death.” 😉

    My biggest regret from my college years is that I was in such a hurry to finish, to get to the next thing, always. These years are so short and life is so long but I didn’t believe that then, not really, not deep down. And maybe I couldn’t have? Maybe that’s just part of it all? But some nights I lie awake pining for a time when it was my job to think for thinking’s sake, to listen and learn and wonder. That, and the people. I wish I’d relaxed a bit, enjoyed them more, let go. This is a glorious time. Experiment with every opinion you’ve ever entertained, try them on like shoes you can kick off whenever they grow too pinched. Listen and ask questions and know it’s your only job, to be curious. Go to the bathroom without raising your hand, wander every hall without a pass, relish in finally being treated like a human being, pay it all back by being respectful but brave. If your new friends suck, make newer ones. Be your youiest you. You are so clearly loved; trust it.

    And go home for ice cream.

  28. I remember almost nothing of what I learned in class at college. The lessons I picked up collaborating with people and hanging out with the profs are things I use every day a decade later.

  29. There’s so much more to college than academics and it is the non academic stuff that is the most important. So study; learn; do your best BUT don’t miss out on the other stuff. Enjoy that too.

    In the end, remember that college isn’t real life. Do your best but don’t sweat it if something goes wrong after you’ve given it your all.

    Have fun. And remember mom and dad and family.

  30. Sit at the front. It’s much easier to stay awake when you’ve been up all night if you sit at the front.

    If you don’t already know how, learn to cook. Even if it’s just chilli and pasta dishes, you’ll save a fortune.

    Some beer is good. Too much beer is not.

    Never do anything because other people think it’s cool. Do it because you think it is.

  31. Okey dokey, this is how college works:

    People are going to have sex in your room, and it might not be you whether you’re in the room or not.

    You can skip classes like, all the time, but DON’T.

    Do not be afraid to question your professors. It’s their job to teach you how to learn for yourself, so that you’ll never need a teacher again. Ask about things you don’t fully understand, and don’t worry about looking ridiculous.

    Cliques in college are based on major instead of whatever arbitrary things define friendship in high school. For example, the philosophy majors and the business majors don’t like each other, but each of those majors is full of football players, LARPers, dancers, bookish types, alcoholics, hipsters, dumbasses, lesbians, republicans, Christians and Buddhists, people who suck at math, Honors students, Tennis pros, pacifists, secret poets, and parents. By the end of your senior year, you’ll all be bonded together – and yes, it takes that long, but it’s worth it.

    Embrace your vices, accept their existence, and then destroy the hell out of them.

    Good luck, and don’t listen to anyone else’s advice. Your life belongs to you.

  32. Oh yeah, and call your parents at least every other week.

  33. Hmm.

    “Tim Minchin”.
    In a good way.

    I left and didn’t look back for ten years. Mistake, despite every good reason under the sun. I have a feeling you don’t have to – at the risk of sounding preachy, I hope you know how lucky you are.

    That moment’s a long, long way away for me. But I gather it’ll arrive as quickly as tomorrow.

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