Tammy seemed a little nervous as we drove up to the Missionary Training Center in Provo. But so were we. Susan and I had tried to prepare ourselves for the time when our daughter would leave on a mission for the LDS Church. Susan cried a lot and I tried to hold back my tears. But neither of us were successful.
Like other parents, we have anticipated the time when sons and daughters, of necessity, have to leave father and mother. How successful we will be remains to be seen. It is something one can anticipate, but when the time comes, it is difficult to experience.It is times like this that make parents nostalgic. While we were waiting, I thought back to when Tammy was born on April 16, 1969. I was enrolled in graduate school at Florida State University. She was our second child and first daughter. I glanced over at her one more time. She still looked nervous, but so was I.
I recalled how she put sand and rocks in a neighbor's gas tank when she was 4. I spent one whole day helping get the rocks and dirt out. How could time fly by so quickly? I also remembered when we lived in Carbondale, Ill., and how Tammy went over to our neighbor's prize tulip bed and picked her parents a BIG bouquet of flowers. We were pleased. Our neighbors were not.
It is times like this that fathers understand Tevye's sentiments in "Fiddler on the Roof." Remember when he reminisced about his daughters? Where had the time gone? Where was the little girl he had carried? When did she grow to be a beauty? When did she grow to be so tall?
I recalled how we eventually moved to Orem when I began teaching at BYU. Tammy was about 7 years told at the time. And what commenced a few years later, I'll never forget. Friends. Friends. Friends. She truly is a social being. About that time, I thought I saw a large, strange growth on her ear. It turned out to be a telephone. And that is an unending tale.
There were junior high and senior high at Orem, graduation and working at McDonalds, Little Caesar's Pizza and Storehouse Market.
How will I ever forget the day we drove her to the Salt Lake airport where she boarded a plane for college at the BYU-Hawaii campus? Was she prepared for that? Were we? We still wonder. But she returned a more mature and more beautiful (and tanned) young woman.
All of these experiences, I realized, had prepared Tammy for this point in her life. We were ready to begin and the time had finally arrived. President Ed Pinegar and his wife, Pat, walked in the room at the Missionary Training Center and stood before those of us gathered. They were at their best as they both gave wonderful talks about the importance of the moment.
After President Pinegar had given his comments, the parents were instructed to go out one door and the missionaries out another. A parentectomy (the removal of a parent from a child) is a difficult moment. There are likely more tears cried per square foot on the carpet at the Missionary Training Center than anywhere else in the world. But they are mostly tears of joy rather than sadness.
There were the last embraces with our daughter, now Sister Tammy Barlow, before we separated and went our separate ways. I know she will be a good LDS missionary in the Ohio Cleveland mission.
We love you, Tammy (Sister Barlow), and look forward to your return in 18 months.
If you have comments or advice on how to say goodbye to daughters, write to Hartford Building, 3355 N. University Ave., Suite 275, Provo, UT 84604.