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The Gift of Absence

Illustration by Michael Rushbrook

One phrase describes the sentiment in my house since our eldest left for college in August: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

No, I’m not talking about myself I have always been fond of my son!  I’m talking about my girls, who were never card-carrying members of the ZACK fan club. After years of hearing nothing but negative comments about their big brother, it’s just plain strange to hear them say, “I wish Zack would text me back,” or, “Let me call Zack and ask what he thinks.”


I remember leaving work and driving to get the girls at school because Zack wouldn’t let them in the car. Or taking two cars to church, for the same youth group because the girls wouldn’t ride with their brother. All the times I had to keep the peace between them, keep them from physically hurting each other or destroying each other’s stuff...and now there’s this big love fest going on? 

How GREAT is that?

I saw it with my own eyes one October weekend when we visited for Family Weekend. Maddy and Sky could hardly contain their excitement over seeing Zack for the first time since he left for college.

They ran to each other. Really! They r-a-n to hug each other.

Craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

And there are pictures of the three of them with their arms around each other…smiling! Real smiles, not like the ones in the church directory when

I’m pinching their backs.

This change of heart works both ways: Zack has made comments to me like, “I wish the girls would Facebook me more,” and, “I worry about the girls because I’m not there to look out for them.”

LOOK OUT FOR THEM? What’s in the water in Statesboro? The only time he ever looked out for them was when he was looking for a cash stash in their rooms and didn’t want to get caught!

It’s funny how siblings don’t necessarily appreciate each other when they are under the same roof.

As I look forward to Christmas, and having all my kids under the same roof again, I wish you and your family the happiest of holidays.

Jennie Montgomery anchors the evening news at WJBF-TV. She’s married to Scott and they have three children: Zack, 18, Maddy, 17, and Sky, 16.

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