Monday, January 7, 2013

Closing Time

There's some song from my youth that recalls every something or other is a new beginning's end, but of course JUST when I want to remember it, I can't.

My youngest graduated from college last month ... which was oddly odd, given that it was maybe just a month short of his oldest nephew's birth. Something I, as a young parent, NEVER imagined would happen; something during his last year of high school I didn't think I'd live to see; and something that happened rather quietly on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus on a Sunday afternoon. His brothers, our favorite Dane, and I sat together; and his father and wife sat elsewhere in the auditorium. Although I couldn't immediately find my son in the sea of maize and blue, others quickly pointed him out to me and I watched as he took his place with the other engineering students in their seats. The pomp and circumstance were quite impressive and I'll still readily admit I wish I had finished the PhD program I was in ooooooooh so long before my Lawyer was even a gleam in my anyone's eye, just so I could own an amazing hat, the kind that graced the heads of many on the stage, even if I only looked at it occasionally through a Space Bag from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. And such gowns! Purple, red, fuchsia! Yet the woman who impressed me was simply garbed and hadn't even donned her cap. She had been one of the Lawyer's professor's on another campus. The keynote speaker was a professor not too far down the road from another Big Ten school ... the one once attended where the Lawyer was eventually born. My 1980 Baby sitting next to me.

But this was the year of my youngest Baby's graduation. I watched him so closely I thought I'd burn a hole in the back of his gown. The same gown as all the others, the same collar distinguished only by a gold honors braid, the same cap, the same tassel. Yet odd how one knows the back of one's child's head seated on the floor of Big Blue's basketball stadium. The angle at which it tilts at age two or 22. And how, if one is fortunate enough to see it, it will tilt at 52. The familiar look of boredom, or fatigue as it sets in. The arch of the neck, a head adjustment, a nod. And then, way too fast for this mother of four adult sons to take it all in, a degree is finished, glasses are raised, dinner is served, and the world has another mechanical engineer ready to enter its sales force. Christmas comes and goes. One year ends and another begins. The California Couple stays there awaiting the birth of their oldest. The Lawyer and Psychologist spend their first holiday season in their new home by visiting others ... knowing soon that the Midwest Holidays will soon be celebrated there as their own son or daughter will want to nap at home. The Dane has gone and returned from Denmark (and in fact, is a scant 15 minutes away with my Small Business Owner as I type this,) and the Engineer is verging on his own full bloom.

I shared a meal with him today as he prepared to head back from whence all good Engineers come. Just as parents joke about the oldest child being a guinea pig there are jokes about the baby of the family. I stood looking up at him trying to explain how proud I am of him, not just because of WHO is but because of well, who he IS (again, not what he's done.) Yet I'm proud of that, too, only because who he IS has allowed him to have done what he has. Of that I am proud. And I tried, unsuccessfully, not to call him my baby.

I'm proud of myself ... I really am. Four amazing young men. Yes, blessed with relative health (what's few autoimmune diseases among those who love each other,) brilliant minds and, pardon me for saying so, great looks and wit. Have their lives been corporately easy? Compared to many on this planet? Yes. Compared to many in their town? Yes. Compared to many in their school? Now I'll have to say "it depends." For as much as they've been blessed with they also contended with a lot others never have; and within such a homogeneous community that can't be easy for a kid. Even a guy with three brothers! Have they lead individually easy lives? Some more than others as their circumstances and temperaments vary. But as introverts and deep thinkers all, I'd say our household has seen more than its fair share of existential despair. But nary a dung beetle. So go me. I kept the beetles, locusts, and most other insects at bay while a mostly single mom, even when married, even when sick, and always chronically living.

I hugged him long, I hugged him hard, and I whispered prayers into his neck before he hopped back into his car chatting about picking up his "new whip" courtesy of the company later on in the week. And as he drove off into the slowly lengthening day tears rolled down my cheeks. My babies have all done graduated, growed up, and have lives and families of their own.

The Little Dude is due this week. His uncles and aunt are ready. Grammy Sue is waiting in CA. I'm keeping watch in the Midwest. The originally Grammy, now nigh unto Great Grammy, is battening down the hatches on the East Coast. The country is covered. Our family is growing.

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

Stay tuned. There are other new beginnings happening as we speak ...

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