It happens to us all at some time in our lives, and to others more often. In my life I've said goodbye to many, and in some cases over a mound of cold earth. But to say goodbye to one who is on the threshold of his life is harder, especially when he believes it is not goodbye and your own experience tells you differently.
Tonight we celebrated our last night with Colin, our adopted son from Berlin.
It was over three years ago in summer when I heard a voice call out Is there a Scotsman over there from the other side of my hedge. He had seen my Saltire fluttering against the wind on the western corner of our house; directly over the street from his flat. I was stood on our garden balcony with my German mate Mick. We invited him to join us. From that day on our lives changed. Colin met all our friends and became an integral part of all our lives.
He came from Berlin to our corner of Baden Würtemburg practically on a whim; he'd met a local girl on the internet. He took an apprenticeship in the firm where she worked and became part of her family ... till she realised real life is different from cyber life, and blew him out. That's when we met him. We made him feel at home, which I sometimes regretted since he took us too literally but he became a part of our home; like it or lump it. His mother, a nurse, came from Berlin and spent a weekend with us and returned happy in the knowledge that her youngest was in good hands.
I actually proposed marriage to his mum, with Mary's blessing, so that I , as step father, could whack him one on the ear when he deserved it; his mum gave me her permission without the need to marry.
Now his apprenticeship is time served and the firm has let him go, in favour of a local lad whose father is a personal friend of his boss. The local lad was the only real friend that Col had made in the firm.
Tonight we had a going away party for Col. Kris interrupted a long awaited date by three hours to come and eat and drink with us, Mick drove from Ravensburg, where he visits his kids at weekends, Detlef called off - night shift choo-choo driver- but enough of us turned up between 6 and 9 to get a party going. Quarter past nine a knock on the door and a guy wants to know if Colin is here with us, I ask him who he is and he says Christian Then I throw my arms around him and welcome him into our house. He is the local lad with whom Colin had such a good friendship at work.
Midnight + and we are practically wrecked and Colin and Christian head off for some disco or other. Mick and his burd have gone, the video camera is switched off, the rest have gone home and Mary is in bed ... having poured the remains of my Bacardi down the sink cos she thinks I've had enough; fair enuff doll.
I'm waiting for Col to come home; he handed over his flat today.
Tomorrow I'll bring him to Basel airport. just over the border, then he'll fly to his mum in Berlin.
Shortly Thereafter he'll go into the RAF. (I talked him out of following in his brother's footsteps - with his brother's help ... an Afghan veteran of three tours )
Colin has been an integral part of our lives for almost four years. The cats will miss him. We'll miss him and our friends will miss him too.
In the video which I posted ( You Tube; tomi's retirement party) he is the one who closes one eye when the song goes ... I don' wanna close my eye ... the daft one with the cream moustache, the annoying one, ... our Col.
I was always a rolling stone ... make friends only to say goodbye later; part of life. Now I know how it is when the shoe is on the other foot. Of course he says we'll always see each other again ... but didn't I always say the same (until I met Mary)?
So here is the point of this topic ...
I'm not the only person on this planet who has seen the culmination of the circle.
My father and sisters saw me say goodbye - like some of you did too.
You watched someone dear to you leave the nest - as you knew they must, or you spread your own wings.
All these years later you can finally let it out; how you felt, what you thought.
My cellar is full with his junk now; his toaster, computer, table lamp, speakers, stuff I should throw away now. My mind will be full of Colin ... a new experience - Will you share yours?
Our Colin at my 63rd
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