Taking flight

Tommy Brennan, son of MV Times editor George Brennan, is heading off to college this weekend. — Gabrielle Mannino

It’s coming too quickly now. Summer’s already accelerated pace, bookended by fireworks for the Fourth in Edgartown and the mid-August display in Oak Bluffs, has sped up even more in recent days. 

It’s time, and I’m not ready.

It’s supposed to be easier the second time around sending a kid off to college. It’s not. He’s going so far from home. 

It’s not like my daughter, who is less than 90 minutes away in Boston. I can’t pretend he needs a good meal, send him a text, and let him know we’ll be by on Saturday afternoon to take him to a restaurant and then grab some groceries. (We don’t do it often, but is there a better feeling on earth for a dad than filling up a kid’s dorm fridge?) There’s no buying him a bus or train ticket to shoot home for an overnight to just be. For him that would involve planes … and expense … and time.

There’s no asking if he has time for nine holes before the sun sets. I love watching him play golf, his youthful power sending the ball on a trajectory that appears headed into orbit. But it’s mostly about just being together, in the fresh air, commiserating about errant chips and misread putts — and cheering those four good shots put together for a par, mostly by him.

He’s a teenager, so there are no long conversations right now, but it’s still comforting to lament the downturn of the Red Sox pitching and marvel at Tom Brady’s longevity and legend. The Bruins will start soon, and there would surely be quick chats about Patrice Bergeron’s latest gem, a crazy fight, or what they need to compete again for the Cup.

He’s the kid who always got me up off the couch — playing catch, running after Frisbees. We took turns playing goalie up against a neighbor’s stockade fence, taking shots at each other with a tennis ball. We used the front of our house as the Green Monster, peppering the clapboards with plastic balls in our epic Wiffle Ball battles. (Definitely not Mama’s favorite.)

But it was football that most captured our attention and imagination. Many Sundays spent watching the Patriots win and running routes during halftime and again when it was all over.

Now he’s headed off to that next journey, and it’s taking him far away. He’s decided after all those winter sojourns to Florida that he likes the warmth. He’s headed to the University of Tampa, which is a long way to toss a football.

It’s the way it’s supposed to be. They grow up, and you hope you’ve given them a solid foundation with which to build a happy and productive life.

I never did get to write him an advice letter like I did for his sister, JoJo. He never got that assignment from his English teacher.

But if I did, my advice would be similar. Call your mother — often. And use FaceTime. She’ll want to put her eyes on you and make sure that you’re eating and taking care of yourself. And give me a few minutes, too. I’ll want to catch up on how all the teams are doing, let you know if I’ve fixed my golf swing, and in my own way put a set of eyes on you.

Take advantage of this incredible opportunity. You’ve put yourself in a good position to succeed. It’s like being handed the keys to a brand-new sports car with gleaming paint and sparkling chrome.

It’s going to be a hard transition. You’ll have moments of doubt. We’ll have moments of worry.

In those moments, let’s make a promise that we’ll text or call.

We’re here for you. You’ve got this.


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