Teddy’s first year at Notre Dame is almost over. He will be home for the summer in less than a month, and back to eating us out of house and home once more.
After we dropped him off, we didn’t hear much from him for a long time. It was a far cry from the frequent tearful phone calls I remember making home the first few weeks after I started college, which settled to weekly–and tear free–eventually, or even the daily contact I had with Emily when she was at Spring Hill via text, email, and instant message. Teddy texted a few times–mostly when he had questions about something–and I didn’t call him either, giving him time to settle in and get used to being on his own. He came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and dropped by to and from his Spring Break trip to Florida. He’s always willing to spend his first hour or so back home talking to me and answering my questions, but after that he’s off doing his own thing.
But I got a real treat last weekend! St. Edward’s Hall (Steds is what the boys call it) hosted a Mothers’ Weekend and I drove up to spend the weekend with Teddy. Yes, I did, all by myself–about an eight hour drive not counting stops. Of course it poured down rain, the kind of rain you can’t see to drive through, for the first several hours (why did it have to do that while I was driving in my own hilly state and not where it was flat?) but after that it was smooth sailing, especially since I made sure both ways to time things so I would not be driving in the dark (because I’m not as young as I once was!).
I made it to South Bend right around six and after I checked into my hotel I picked Teddy up and we went for pizza (it being Friday, and Lent, and South Bend not being exactly a place I’d expect to specialize in seafood) and then checked out the weekend’s first event–hors d’ouevres at the Eck Visitors Center. This was my first chance to meet Teddy’s friends, including the three young men with whom he will be living next year. They had just chosen their rooms the night before, and will be living in a quad on the fourth floor of St. Ed’s (most people stay in the same dorm all four years)–room 420 to be precise, and if you don’t know why they think that’s a hoot, your teenager can probably tell you.
Would y’all just LOOK at my son? When he came home looking like that I thought maybe that was just the new thing, but then I saw all the other boys, who all look like the boys pictured above, and it became clear that Teddy is the only one doing this particular thing.
Anyway, I was tired so I had Teddy drive me back to my hotel so I wouldn’t have to drive in the dark (oh how I love love love staying in a hotel all by myself!) and we arranged for him to pick me up the next morning, when we were all scheduled to attend brunch at South Dining Hall.
After brunch, we had a free day. I didn’t get to see nearly all the campus when we dropped Teddy off. Y’all, the place is enormous. And it was hot then, and the weekend was packed with required events. (Plus I have more energy now but more on that later.) So we decided to spend the day exploring the campus. It was a glorious day for it–in the upper forties and sunny. Also have I mentioned it’s flat up there? I can walk for hours under those circumstances and I did. We started around noon and kept going until after four. Teddy calculated we walked around five miles and we both even got a little sunburned! Here are some of the sights we enjoyed. Starting with this, even though it isn’t where we started, because it’s what everyone wants to see, right? Here’s a nice shot that gets the Basilica in there too. We actually started out in the bookstore, where this was only one of many children’s books designed to indoctrinate them early! Seriously, it is a really nice (and super expensive) bookstore. After that, Teddy pretty much walked me all the way around the campus, including quick trips inside the library and the student center. I showed y’all Touchdown Jesus last time I wrote about Notre Dame. This guy they call First Down Moses. Did y’all know that Notre Dame du Lac is the school’s official name? And that two lakes sit right next to it? Last time John and I walked around the smaller lake, and this time Teddy and I walked around the other one.
Can’t go to Notre Dame without stopping to pray at the Grotto. There was a wedding party there posing for pictures, and then a rival lacrosse team stopping to pray together after their game.
The last thing we went to see, and my favorite thing since y’all already know I’m weird that way, was the enormous cemetery which is practically at the front door of the place. But that’s going to get a post to itself. 🙂
So moving right along, I barely had time to get back to the hotel and shower and change for the big evening event at the Jordan Hall of Science. We had hors d’oeuvres and drinks, heard about the latest renovations to St. Ed’s, attempted (Teddy and I did not attempt this seriously) to learn how to two step and line dance, and ate dinner. We sat with Teddy’s new roommates and their mothers, and it was a real treat to get to meet them and some of the mothers of Teddy’s other friends. We went back to the dorm afterwards and “chilled” a little longer but I didn’t stay too long because I didn’t want to be tired the next day for the long drive home.
The grand finale to the weekend was Mass on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. (super early for these boys who are used to Mass at 10 p.m.!) held in the Chapel of Sts. Edward and John, which just happens to be at the end of the hallway where Teddy currently lives. If y’all are picturing some folding chairs and a wooden altar with a cross sitting on it, you might want to think again.
Did I mention that about 100 mothers came for the weekend (and there are around 150 boys in the dorm)? So all the seats were full and the boys sat on the floor. I’ve heard people say that Notre Dame isn’t authentically Catholic and I can only assume that those people have never been there. Father Ralph (who lives right there in the hall) started his homily with these beautiful words of St. Augustine: “You gleamed and shone, and chased away my blindness. You breathed fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for you. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.” And I wish I had taped those boys belting out “Wade in the Water” at the end of Mass!
Then it was time to go home, but not so hard to leave knowing how soon I will be seeing Teddy again. And it was great to see how at home he is and how much fun he is having, and to be able to picture him there with his friends.