My wife and I are proud parents of two adult children who are venturing out to find their ways in life. Our occasional worries of “Did we do our best?” in rearing them are pushed aside when they begin to take it on themselves to give back to us.

Their travels are broadening as opportunities and God’s favor provide. Meanwhile, we’re scaling back as we care for my wife’s housebound mother and a couple of little rescued dogs who are, themselves, getting to their geriatric stages of life.

We still try to reach out with arms of support as far as we can but still have to let go as we watch our kids disappear over the horizon.

Both of our children have traveled to Europe to fulfill bucket list dreams – our son to Berlin and, more recently, our daughter to Paris.

Our son is working on his doctorate in history in Louisiana and works as a tour guide at a plantation along the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge. Among the guests he guided was a reporter from a Washington, D.C. newspaper who interviewed him for a story. Another visitor handed him her calling card after the tour that identified her as one of the directors of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

“Give me a call next time you’re in town,” she told him.

He had been in Washington D.C. for a week’s summer study before and landed a fellowship grant to return for three weeks this summer.

I still remember the jitters of trying to find him in the crowd exiting the terminal at O’Hare International Airport when he returned from visiting Berlin a couple of years ago.

The police allow no curbside waiting in Chicago. I had to direct my son downstairs to the departure level by phone while trying to negotiate another minute with all the shouting and arm waving from the black uniforms walking along the line of vehicles.

The Sunday afternoon traffic seemed no different from any weekday there as we inched along en route to overnight accommodations he had booked on the city’s north shore along Lake Michigan. It turned out to be a nice father-son outing after the stress of Chicago street life as we traveled up to Minnesota for what turned out to be the last visit with my mother.

Parents are naturally more protective of daughters, however.

We were not comfortable with our daughter’s dream of visiting Paris. However, we couldn’t block the way when she raised her own budget and made her travel arrangements with a tour group that was hosted by a couple of podcasters to whom she listens on internet radio.

We were especially concerned when she decided to fly alone on a cheaper flight from Atlanta to Paris rather than flying to New York to join the tour group for the trans-Atlantic leg of the journey.

Yeah, we lifted an earnest prayer as we saw her off at the Golden Triangle Airport. Divine favor amazed us again when she transmitted a picture back to us a couple of hours later from the Atlanta airport of a lady directly in front of her in the boarding line for the Air France jet with whom she had just gotten acquainted. That lady turned out to be one of the podcasting tour hosts traveling with her husband that our daughter was going to search out in Paris.

We still nervously kept calculating the seven-hour time difference to plan communications with her and fretted when contingencies such as dead phone batteries would intervene.

We’re thankful that all did go well for her and that she safely returned to our embrace with memories of a lifetime, along with “happies” to share with family.

We are indeed beginning to enjoy the occasional unexpected favors trickling back from the children that we’re still trying to release for the long haul. We’re also thankful to be able to encourage other parents of young children that we meet to be generous in their investments in the future as they raise the next generation.

John Ward is a staff writer for the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at john.ward@journalinc.com.

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