When I was 12 we made a once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit my mother’s best friend from college, several states away. We had heard stories about “Punky” and similarly nick-named friends from that time in Mom’s life. But from Punky we heard stories about our mom “GInger” that she had never told us, such as the fun they had bowling in the dorm hall with oranges and pop bottles. Since I was sure we would get in trouble for trying such a thing, this was hard to envision.
But the most memorable story I heard in the few days our families spent together was Punky describing how she saw her husband off to work each day by walking him out of the house to his car, hugging and kissing him goodbye, then leaning in through the car window for a last kiss as he drove off. She laughed about what a scene they made each day for the neighbors.
This was amazing to me.
Displays of affection were rarely seen between my parents, and certainly none of our neighbors were putting on a show like she described. It suggested a possibility of relationship unlike what I had seen in our family or circle of friends.
The thought stuck with me and saying goodby with a hug and a kiss every time one of us leaves is a habit we have stuck with for 35 years of marriage now. Having few neighbors (and both being somewhat introverted) we have practiced this more privately than Punky.
Somewhere along the way this tradition of acknowledging even the little goodbys grew to include waving and blowing a kiss to each other from the window in the kitchen door as the other pulled out of the driveway. This is such a part of us now that it always feels a little empty to drive away from the house without someone at the window seeing me off.
As our children started driving, a last goodby to them from the waving window became part of the routine. I have smiled and waved as they drove off in a first car, to their first job, and last day of high school. Then smiled with tears once they were out of sight in a car overloaded with stuff for their dorm room, or with wedding presents headed to a first apartment.
To me being at the waving window says “I love seeing you and will miss you until I see you again,” whether it will be a few hours, days or months until that happens.
I don’t know if my children think of this as a particularly meaningful family tradition. They at least play along by turning on their dome lights to wave back when leaving in the dark.
But it still makes my husband smile each time I am there waving and blowing him a kiss.