Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Farewell to Olivia Falls Short on Advice but Not on the Love

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Farewell to Olivia Falls Short on Advice but Not on the Love

Article excerpt

When I was growing up, our family mailbox was one of eight neighborhood mailboxes across a two-lane highway from our house.

The traffic on the road was heavy at times. Cars and trucks would often speed, making it difficult for pedestrians to judge distances. In addition, we lived on a hill. To cross the road anywhere other than the top of the hill made for poor sightlines and a dangerous situation.

In the 1960s, long before email, my brothers, sisters and I looked forward to getting the mail each day. Our parents, fully realizing the risks involved with crossing the road, would not allow us to get the mail on our own. They held our hands, accompanied us to the top of the hill and pleaded, with love in their voice, "Look both ways before you cross the street."

It was a rite of passage when my brothers, sisters and I were permitted to get the mail on our own. All the while this advice echoed in our ears.

At sunrise on Thursday of last week I found myself sitting in a relatively empty coffee shop at Pittsburgh International Airport. After having spent a wonderful summer together, my wife and I were there to see our daughter off. Olivia was traveling to Rome as part of a study abroad program offered by Duquesne University, where she is a sophomore.

Although Olivia has been "on her own" for brief periods in the past, being 8,000 miles and nine hours away for an entire semester would certainly raise the bar. My wife and I were excited and, at the same time, feeling more than a bit apprehensive. If something were to go wrong, we could not simply hop in the car and drive to the rescue.

At the coffee shop we met Olivia's roommate for the first time -- a very nice young lady. Her mom was very nice as well. Our confidence was boosted a notch.

My wife had spent the summer in anticipation of this moment, and, at the same time, she hoped this day would not arrive. …

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