She’s making it out alive

My wife and I have five kids between us. By Friday we’ll have three high school graduates, and two left to go.

It seems like it should be an exciting time, and it is. And stressful. It’s been a couple of years, so I guess we forgot about all the end-of-year hoopla and events, the weird schedules seniors have at the end of the school year, and just how much stuff we need to get for the graduation party.

There were two Friday night events that required me to pick our daughter up from the school at 5 a.m. on a Saturday. She had fun and even got to sleep all day when she got home. Not me.

There are different schedules for seniors at the end of the year, at least in this school district. They take finals the week before graduation. There’s a lot of pressure to essentially finish the school year two weeks faster than everyone else, who take their finals next week. Underclassmen will be schlepping away at American Government finals while their older friends are on vacation or experiencing full-time work without the promise of school in the fall to break the drudgery.

We’ve thrown a few parties these past few years, typically at one of the local parks. You’d think we’d have everything we could possibly need by now. Nope. I use a propane grill at home, yet I’ve somehow lost the can of lighter fluid I need for the grills at the parks. We need a new set of aluminum pans for the burgers and dogs. A new set of blue and gold everything to celebrate the end of an era — Heather, a Fighting Tarpon, is now Heather, an adult.

It’s the week of last hurrahs. I went fishing this morning while Heather had graduation practice. She asked for a friend to spend the night. I said yes right away, but the friend’s parents said no. It broke my heart. Thursday night her friend goes to spend time with a biological parent who does not live nearby. From there, she leaves for the military. Thank God for social media, else I don’t know when they’ll see each other again. Heather has had a vision teacher for the past several years, who stuck with her through all that life threw at her. Joan is no longer the teacher, but the friend, the big sister. I really hope graduation isn’t the last we see of her.

Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with a lot of people from high school. It’s also brought a lot of questions. There are folks I grew up with who don’t have Facebook accounts. Have they passed? Or just don’t do social media? This class, 2016, will hopefully not have to wonder about things like that. Social media will let them keep up with one another. That’s probably difficult with some schools. My daughter is graduating with something like 500 other kids. I graduated number 33 of 155. And you can see how well we kept up with each other. Granted, that was 26 years ago.

I hope this week, and the past few, have created indelible memories for my daughter. To be honest, I remember coming out to the field were Avon Grove High School held their graduation ceremonies. I remember being on the stage, briefly. What I remember most about high school graduations, though, is from my brother’s graduation party, a mere hour after he crossed the stage, and watching one of his friends run off the road in front of my grandmother’s house. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t run off the road there. I was classy, and did so by the DuPont Estate in Delaware, on a wet and dreary October afternoon.

I digress.

I hope my wife and I have relearned the lessons of how to handle senior year. We need to get it right. We’ve got a senior coming each of the next two years. I hope Heather is gracious about anything we get wrong and she’s already shown to be grateful for all we get right.

It’s a bittersweet time of year. I’m so happy for my daughter. She made it out alive. I’m not kidding; with her health issues that was a serious concern. She’s proven stronger than the things that have tried to keep her down. These past few weeks sickness look poised to win, and keep her from graduating, but we were able to overcome that obstacle and she finished the year in style, really impressing her teachers with her final accomplishments. We don’t know, yet, what’s next for her. I imagine I’ll be trying to hide from her when school starts next year, slipping into my (soon to be) office to get writing done without interruption. Or maybe she’ll travel. Or go to work. Or head back to school and work on a degree at the local community college. I don’t know. I’m not sure that I care, either, so long as she’s happy with the direction she chooses.

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