• Marilyn Gardner Woods

Belated and beloved...

Updated: Oct 5



My birthday this year was a bit of blur nestled in the midst of Mother’s Day, three family birthday celebrations, one Master of Arts confirmation, two college graduations, out-of-town company, writing deadlines, good news on the pandemic front, and the frenzy of masking or not-masking.


It didn’t occur to me that I hadn’t received a gift, even a birthday card, from my middle child until Fed Ex left an overnight delivery on my doorstep exactly two weeks late.

Inside, the postal wrap was a cheerful overall envelope design of dozens of colorful Happy Belated Birthday greetings. Bo is the exact person belated anything greetings were made for; you can rely on son number two to be late, but always extremely sentimental and creative.


Opening the large envelope, I pulled out the contents—a wooden cigar box. Empty of the La Flor Dominicana Ligero cigars it once held, a sweet, earthy scent of tobacco remained. I inhaled deeply before carefully pulling the bubble wrap open.


Seeing the contents, I instantly began sobbing.


My son, his wife, and my two adorable youngest grandchildren are moving. The last week of this month, they are relocating to the other side of this vast country. Twenty-five hundred miles away from San Diego. To Nags Head, North Carolina.




My belated birthday gift? A generous Southwest Airlines gift card. No note. No message. No birthday card. Just a “come see us” loving gesture that brought his mother to tears.



Until this moment, all the activity swirling around me had kept me from really comprehending what the move meant when they announced it. “I can probably get there as fast as I can drive to Prescott Valley,” I said brightly remembering my six-hour drive to their house in Arizona last Christmas. But not for soccer games or talent shows or trick or treat like I have so many times.


Looking at the Southwest Gift Cards, the heaviness of reality saddened me so. Getting to North Carolina, especially to their new home in the Outer Banks, is no way as easy as getting to Arizona.


As I sat feeling sorry for myself, my mom’s teary face came to mind. She stood, half-smiling, half-crying, waving good-bye on that early June morning when I left with her only grandchildren, and moved away from Texas for the first time.


I wish I could go back and send her a plane ticket.



Beautiful. Heartfelt. Children leaving. The plight of mothers everywhere and from time beginning. Suzy B.



Oh, this one really hit home for me, Marilyn. I did not have a clue about what I was putting my parents through when I moved with my husband from Louisiana to Oregon. That is until the day I left my daughter in her dorm in Cleveland, and flew home to San Diego. Like you, I wanted to go back in time, to call and visit more often.

By the way, do you know how self conscious I feel writing to a writer?

❤K


Oh, I’m so selfish! My first thought was not “what a lovely little piece of writin” and not “oh! Poor Marilyn. But, ow ! Wonderful! I’ll get to see Marilyn here in NC!


GRAND! Glad to hear about the Outer Banks! Lovely area! They’ll be happy there I think. Our beach house was up a ways from there, in South Bethany, Delaware. Good livin’!! Nanny xxxxx


So darn sweet of Bo. Now you know how we felt when you announced moving to San Diego. While it was not far away, I had a cold dread that it would change things for TTT. Happily, it didn’t and we are as close as ever. Life changes and sometimes it hurts.

North Carolina is a beautiful state and I would go there with you! 🥰❤️ SC


Wow Marilyn your message sure hit home for me as our oldest daughter in Fort Collins just relocated to Kansas City to be near her first granddaughter!!! You know it is not as if she lived around the corner - FC is an hour from us but I knew she was there if I went to town and went to see her! I truly understand her desire to be near the granddaughter, she is precious and our first great grandchild! Kim is lucky she can work from home and her husband is all for it also. I am trying not to cry and so of course I am crying writing this!! Ha! I will get over it!!!❤️J9

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