Graduation Day

I can’t believe I have a grandson old enough to graduate from high school.  But there he is.  I remember Shannon telling me on the telephone that her water broke.  Early.  Off she and Rich went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore while the family waited nervously on the west coast.  Our grandson arrived safely on September 11 and spent a week in the NICU.  He came home shortly before Granny Frani arrived on the doorstep, and Shannon handed him to me.  I was terrified.  I’d never held a baby that small.  Mine were several pounds bigger than my grandson.  But I fell in love immediately. 

The doctors said he’d never be taller than 5’6”.  That’s how little doctors know.  They are practicing, after all.  I’m looking up to him now.  He’s nose-to-nose with Rick.  And he’s still growing!

And there he was, handsome in his suit and tie, donning cap and gown, walking across a stage and getting his high school diploma.  He’s ready and eager to embark on adult life.   What will he do?  College, full-time job, military?  He’s leaning toward the military, which, I must admit, isn’t my first choice.  He has strong faith and I have no doubt he will be praying about what path God wants him to take.

Watching our grandson graduate made me think about my own high school graduation.  Most of my friends – some of whom I’d known since kindergarten — were jubilant.  They couldn’t wait to get out of high school and move on to bigger things.  I cried.  I don’t mean a few tears.  I mean I sobbed.  I had a great time in high school.  I hated to see that era in my life come to an end.  Over the years others have missed those good times of (by today’s standards) innocent fun.   We started having annual class reunions and bring pictures and remember the good ole days.  This September we’re celebrating our 50th  high school class reunion.  I can’t believe that either!  Where did the time go?  I still feel like I’m sixteen (when arthritis isn’t bothering me).  Just ask Rick!  We’re Pleasanton Amadons, Class of ‘65!

As I watched my grandson and those other beaming teens ready to tackle the world, I remember being eighteen and thinking I had all the answers I needed to get on with life.  I’d lived under my parents’ roof and authority for eighteen years and was ready to start the next phase of my life.  I had butted heads with my father far more than my mother.  He was a man of very strong opinions.  I’m not one to bend easily.  Just ask Rick! 

 It didn’t take long to realize how little I knew about the world — and myself.  Several hundred miles away in unfamiliar territory, alone and embarking on the grand and frightening adventure of building my own life, I took another look at my parents.  I felt a sense of awe in what my mom and dad had each accomplished in their lives through planning, hard-work, faith and a strong love-based marriage.  I realized I’d taken the life they’d given me for granted, not understanding the sacrifices they made to give me the opportunity to thrive. 

Eyes open, I wrote Mom and Dad a letter of gratitude.   It wasn’t long, but it was heartfelt. 

Mom showed it to me after Dad died.  It had meant so much to him, he had kept it among the important family documents in the safety deposit box.