May 15, 2005
“What do you mean you’re moving to Indiana?!?!” wailed Marilyn Sutherland looking back and forth between her daughter Claudia and son-in-love, Devon.
“Mama, we thought you’d be excited to hear our news. I mean, you can’t expect Devon to turn down his dream job at Wabash now can you?” Claudia spoke in gentle tones in an attempt to soothe her mother’s distress. The soft sound of Luther Vandross singing “Still in Love” from her parents’ ancient record player faded into the background as Claudia saw the distress in her mother’s face. Looking to her father she pleaded with her eyes for help only to see a stormy expression looking back at her from lifelong hero.
“Claude, I’ll admit I’m just as upset as your mother. We thought y’all were happy here in Atlanta and now you want to take our grand babies away from us. You know we retired here to be closer to you,” said Lawrence Sutherland, his deep baritone voice filled the room like no other, a side effect of having practiced law for so many years.
“But Dad, it’s Wabash. I couldn’t say no when the Dean of Faculty called me to make the offer,” Devon chimed in.
“Oh don’t get me wrong, Son, I couldn’t be prouder knowing that you’ve been tapped to serve at our alma mater,” Lawrence moved away from the window and sat down on the couch next to his wife pulling her close he could feel her silently sobbing. “We’re just going to miss having you all close to us. We love you and those babies of yours so much, I guess we’ve just gotten spoiled over the last three years.”
“At least we’ll have plenty of room for you to come and visit whenever you want because that’s our other news. The President has offered us Hays House to live in since I’ll be taking on a new position with the College as well leading the fundraising unit,” said Claudia, noticing that her mother seemed to perk up a bit at the mention of Hays House.
“Just wait until I see that rascal of a President at the next Board of Trustees meeting. I’m gonna give him such a piece of my mind for stealing all of my babies away from me,” Marilyn said wiping her eyes with the kerchief her husband handed her from his pocket. A smile broke across her lips and Claudia could see her mother’s wheels spinning. “The least he can do is let us redecorate that house. When are you moving in?”
“They’ve asked us to report July 1st so that we have time to get settled before the school year begins,” said Devon.
“Oh good God! That house hasn’t had small children in it for years. Let me go pull out some of my catalogs, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Come Claudia!” said Marilyn as she rose from her seat and started making her way toward her “office”.
“Be right there, Mama, I just need to go check on the kids real quick. I think I hear them in the back deviling up your dog,” said Claudia as she exited the living room headed for the back porch.
“Now son, let’s you and me talk about this new position,” Lawrence said leaning back on the sofa and looking over his thick, black framed glasses at the son he’d come to love over the past 20 years. Gone was the little scrawny freshman who had come to see him on the first day of school at the Malcolm X Institute. Now standing before him was a Wabash man, a brother in arms and the father of his three precious grandchildren.
Devon looked into the eyes of his mentor and father-in-love and let out a deep belly laugh. “Yes Sir, so it all started back in January when I was asked to make a campus visit to the science department…”