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We had dinner tonight with my 23-year-old son Kip.  He joined us at 18 Seaboard Restaurant in Raleigh.  I hadn’t seen Kip in a few weeks, and I thought we’d go somewhere nice.  18 Seaboard is a perennial favorite of the in-the-know, inside-the-beltline crowd, and where a good meal is concerned I tend to follow their lead.  The food was as delicious as I remembered it.

Kip just graduated from N. C. State University in May with a degree in philosophy and a minor in business.  He is finishing out a plum of an internship with AT&T that he is very thankful has been extended through December, while he looks for his first full-time job after college—a job he very much hopes will be with AT&T.  He is in that anxious place where so many young people find themselves as they wait for “real life” to begin.  They are waiting to launch.

When Kip was still in his mother’s womb, I filled my evenings as the obsessive, expectant father by sanding and painting an old rocking chair that I named “Kip’s Ship,” in anticipation of the many bedtime rides my son and I would take in it.  He arrived for the voyage on time on June 2, 1990, and not long thereafter he and I went to sea as planned in his ship, rocking night after night to a lullaby of “Farewell and Adieu, All Ye Fine Spanish Ladies. . .”  It seemed the perfect way to launch him into the world, and his travels since then have been richly blessed.

Now he stands at the threshold of a new voyage, and although he is every inch the man I am I still have the instinct to shelter him in a stalwart vessel.   But I suppose the years have done their work, and he is ready.  It is a proud and bittersweet thing to wait on shore and watch a ship head for the open ocean, but that is every father’s place when his children are grown.  Now only my prayers go with him.  Fair winds, Kip, and Godspeed.