My dad once said of my mother that if he got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, by the time he came back she would have made his side of the bed. I thought of that when I was getting ready to go off to college.

Mom was determined to make this an event to rival the invasion of Normandy.

For the two weeks prior to my departure, I had the feeling I was being sent back to camp. My mom sewed name tags into my entire wardrobe, even my socks, and bought me enough toiletries to freshen up a sewage treatment plant.

She spent several hours every day trying to figure out ways to send tomato sauce through the mail.

When the big day of departure finally came, Mom thought we should pack the car with necessities first -- meaning clean underwear and a compact refrigerator for the dorm room. Dad, a more pratical sort, immediately put an end to that and filled the trunk with my two suitcases and a box of books.

After we had arrived at the dorm, I went to inspect what would be my new bathroom. By the time I got back to the room, Mom was in the middle of dusting the shelves and dresser drawers. "I should have brought some lining paper," she apologized.

There was a goodbye dinner and emotional farewell hugs. I left the room early the next morning and didn't return until 6:30 p.m. The phone rang and it was Mom. She and Dad had just gotten back from the day-long drive home.

"What did they serve you for dinner?" she asked.

"I think it was meat loaf and potatoes," I said.

"Well," she said happily, "I've just put some lamb chops in the oven. Why don't you hop on a plane and come home for dinner?"

She was perfectly serious