Last time for a first day

This morning, I did something I will never get to do again. I woke up a son for his first day of the new school year. Yes, my youngest child is going to his first day of his senior year. Sigh.

Sometimes I wonder if there's something wrong with me. Other mothers I knew cried when their children started school. They grieved when their children entered high school, and bawled at graduation, as if each new step was about what they were leaving behind and not what was next. They grieve over their children's growing.

Not me. I've been as excited for my children as they were for themselves. New adventures, new stages in their lives, it's all good. The way I see it, God gave us these two boys to raise up, teach, love, guide, feed (!!!!!), care for and let go of. The idea is that we are supposed to rear our children to be honorable men, independent, capable, successful, happy, balanced, productive, loving, compassionate MEN. Part of our job is to give them the tools they need to do all of those things. I hope we got it right.

I cherished each of their stages as they grew, and enjoyed the time as it came. I didn't grieve for the babyhood when they became toddlers. Why would I? I got to enjoy all the wonder of youth again, through their bright young eyes.

Now my youngest is embarking on his final year as a "child". When this school year is over, he'll be 18, with the whole world before him. He'll be in charge of his own destiny and his own life in a whole new way. Do you remember how that felt? I do! Exciting, scary, challenging and intimidating, too.

I'm looking forward to what the coming years will bring. I enjoy the day, and where he is in his maturation right this moment, and I cherish all that I was privileged to see as he got to this point. I wonder who he will choose to marry, and what his children might be like. But that's for another day and I'm in no hurry. Where he is is a good place to be in. He's a senior: top dog in the pecking order of the public school system. He has friends and a loving family, a truck and a job and cool teachers and the lowest level of responsibility he will have for the rest of his life. Why would I feel sad?

For Shame

The top story in the news today is the funeral of a guy famous for bad plastic surgery, wearing one glove and dangling his baby over a balcony.

Yesterday, SEVEN United States soldiers were killed in Afghanistan.

People in this country have committed suicide because a singer died, but the loss of seven brave Americans doesn’t even make a ripple in our national consciousness.

Shame on each and every one of you who so much as *clicked* on a news story about that ridiculous man. It’s time to wake up, Americans. I am appalled and disgusted by the media frenzy and the celebrity-worshippers who are turning the death of one sad little man into some kind of a bid for sainthood. He could sing. SO freaking what??? What is there to idolize in that?

So here’s the deal. And yes, I’m pissed, in case you didn’t notice. You sad sorry SOBs who are bawling over the loss of this one spoiled, misguided singer: I’m going to help you find a new hero. They’re around, but you can’t look at TV to find them. And you won’t find the real heroes in the music store, either. Here are a few places you can start to search for someone who is worthy of your admiration:

  • Look in your own family. Look at the single mom who did without for all the years of your growing, so that you could have a decent coat.
  • Look at the father who worked two jobs and missed your ball games (which is where he would rather have been) because you needed braces and that emergency appendectomy.
  • Look at the people who volunteer their time, knowledge, effort and funds to help better your community.
  • Look at the men and women in the American Armed Forces. No one made them be there. They volunteered to put their lives on the line to preserve YOUR way of life, YOUR security and YOUR freedom.
  • Look at the teachers who gave you the education which opened up the doors of the world for you, the police officers who stand between you and the bad guys, the guy that fixes your overflowing toilet and the girl that stocks the grocery shelves so that you won’t have to reach WAY back for your Twinkies.
  • If you don't have any of those in your life, then how about you become a fan of the man who died on a cross, so that you could have a shot at heaven? Come to think of it, even if you have all of those in your life, you can still be His fan.

You can stop worshipping the basketball players and the rock stars and the other icons of American overindulgence. Some of those folks might deserve to be heroes, but not because they can make the scoreboard light up or because they have some hot guitar licks. If you can’t find something more redemptive in them than that, it’s a sad day for them, and sadder for you if you idolize them.

God help us, America. Our infrastructure is crumbling, children in this country will go to bed hungry tonight, there are soldiers dying in foreign lands, we have dangerous diseases to contend with and global warming and I don’t know what-all, but a messed-up, freak-of-nature pop star died, and THAT is the big news.

Memories.....light the corners of my mind?

Is that the line from the song? I don't know.

I was thinking about my memories of my lost loved ones. All my grandparents are gone now, my Dad, beloved uncles, my brother.....all gone. My memories of them are an interesting study in contrasts.

Some things I remember with perfect clarity. The way my father's hands looked, the way my Holland grandma used the pronoun "Ik", instead of "I"... somethings appear in my mind with an immediacy that makes them seem present and real and not thoughts of someone gone. Other things are softer-edged and misty: my mind's bokeh. (Look it up.)

I was very small when my grandfathers passed away, so the only memories left to me are the sharp, clear things that impressed me deeply at the time. I didn't get time to develop those amorphous impressions, my comprehension of others as human beings, that I had with my other loved ones. Those are the things that make up my watercolor-y memories of loved ones past.

For a time I was concerned that I was forgetting loved ones gone. I have come to realize, however, that I'm not forgetting them at all. My thoughts of them and memories of them are becoming more and more a part of the tapestry that is me. I don't have to have the sharp edges of every image to have a clear understanding. Time blurs the picture somewhat, but the image is still comprehensible and relevant.

I wonder, what will be the things which stand out for others, when it's my time to go? What will my sons recall about their mom with crystal clarity, a shining recall of who I was or what I looked like?