I have taken my son to the airportfor a flight he needed to catch many times over the years.
It’s called being a single parent when the other single parent lives in Ohio. So it was common for Jeff to fly from Wichita to Columbus and back at least a couple of times a year. I never liked putting him on a plane but his happiness helped. He was always enthusiastic to visit his mother, who was also his friend and confidant. And happy, too, to see his stepfather and sister and other family members, of course. Jeff is close to all of them.
Today, I once again took my son to the airport. Only this time his wife and stepdaughter, Airyn, were along. They’re not visiting his mother; he’s paying respect to his mother, who died in January. Jeff and his family are joining up with his stepfather, sister, brother-in-law and two nephews for a Caribbean cruise to celebrate her life.
The cruise just happens to coincide with Jeff and Shannon’s one-year anniversary, which is Sunday. It’ll be a wonderful blend of joy and sadness. But the sadness will be mixed with the great memories Jeff and the rest have of his mother and everyone will regale the stories to be told.
Working in the business I’m in and raising a son was challenging, as I look back on it. I had to arrange for people to take care of Jeff when I was gone on trips covering Wichita State’s basketball and baseball teams. One of those who helped with the babysitting at the time was, ironically, a Wichita State baseball pitcher, Jaime Bluma. He was dating the girl who I hired to take care of Jeff, who was still in grade school at the time.
Jeff and I lived in quite a few places after my divorce from his mother. I’m counting four until we settled in a place on West Bella Vista for about nine years. They were some of the best years of my life. I always had that fatherly bond with my son, of course, but it was strengthened by our time together in that house.
I still live close to the place and when I’m headed over to get onto I-235, I always drive down Bella Vista street so that I can see that house. It’s always going to be a special place to me and, I hope, to Jeff. Honestly, though, I’m not sure it’s quite as special to him. Maybe. I don’t ask.
We eventually moved from that house when I got married again, but that didn’t last. So we landed in an apartment downtown at Eaton Place. Jeff was early into his college days at the time and we spent nearly a year and a half there until we moved back into the familiar neighborhood near 21st and West.
He moved out in 2008, met a wonderful woman and got married last fall. I met a wonderful woman in February, 2009, and got married almost three years ago.
The two Lutz boys made it through all of the drama, angst and joy that comes with single parenthood, and single child-hood, and today I picked my son up and drove him to the airport.
Like the old days. Except this time he has a wife to be with and a 7-year-old to be entertained by. They gathered their luggage from my car and went on their way to what will be a great vacation, filled with tears and laughter.
Jeff has encountered more of the world than he had when I used to send him off on a plane. He’s a young family man now.
All grown up.