Fifteen years have passed since I attended what I imagined would be my last high school graduation. It was in 2003 that my youngest took her walk across the stage and into her future. God had answered my prayers and I sat back and relaxed . . . for about a minute.
Before long, I was having another one of my "talks" with God. I acknowledged that He had answered all of my prayers and I was beyond grateful but suddenly I saw a long path into the future and there was still a whole lot of mothering work I needed to do. There was college, smoothing the bumps of young adulthood, marriages, and grandchildren looming into the future. And just like that, I had a lot more praying to do and wisdom and reassurances to dispense.
And sure enough, the smoothing happened, the marriages arrived, and grands appeared. There was a lot to live for. Of course, these events weren't simply a matter of ticking off a box. Each was a gift and I was grateful to have these joys. Life was perfect. I had been given everything I had prayed for. Then I found myself, most unexpectedly, at another high school graduation.
The instant lesson I learned is that high school graduation in a small town is a pretty big deal. Amongst this graduating class of 88 students, everyone knew someone even if you weren't related. How could you not? Even WE knew a few of the students and we have only been here for a year.
A few things stood out for me that made this small town graduation uniquely different, though. For one thing, the entire town seemed to be involved. There were fireworks at the end (thank you, Caruthersville Fire Department); the local police to keep order, there were graduation baccalaureates at many of the churches (something I had never heard of), graduating seniors walking the grade school hallways, and there was the tossing of the mortarboards. When my kids graduated, there were nearly 900 students in each class, cap tossing wasn't allowed (though my now 38-year-old son confessed to me this Mother's Day weekend that he and his friends did, indeed toss their caps), and fireworks were absolutely forbidden. And walking an elementary school hallway??? Really, just think about that for a moment. Our old town was large enough that a second high school was eventually built and the dreaded annual traffic nightmare was somewhat abated.
And so, experiencing this annual rite of passage here without a child or grandchild of my own to be seen got me to thinking and I had another one of my "talks" with God. This time I asked that He keep me around long enough and in good enough health that I could enjoy at least three more high school graduations. After all, I had three grands, the youngest of who is just 8 months old. I really, really need at least 18 more years. Considering that I'm what is call an "old" grandma, this is no small thing. And, while I'm at it, Lord, it would be nice to be a great-grandmother. I'm sure God must be thinking by now that I'm a broken record.
Taken outside of Wellington Station in Turlock, CA
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