The second notification of admission to college was met with another set of cheers and more confusion from the dog who couldn’t decide to be happy or concerned.
“We’re one step closer to having too many choices.”
I said it with love and pride and wondered what path has been set before us and realized it should be paths because one child goes off to school and everyone else heads on our respective paths.
There will be intersections but the changes that come now feel profound even though they are good.
Stood under a dark Texas night and thought about how I ended up here and wondered a bit about how things will play out.
Can’t make any official decisions about school until all of the universities give their answers about admission but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about it.
Thought again about the conversation I would have had with Dad and the moment reminded me a bit about the last time he and my son were together.
I stood in the corner of the hospital room and watched the final goodbye. “I love you Jeremy” was followed without any hesitation with “I love you too Grandpa.”
They both knew that would be the last time they saw each other and I was struck by how it went.
I can’t remember a time when I saw my Dad in more pain or was more bothered by it. He wasn’t one to complain much about physical discomfort and if you saw him acknowledge the pain it was a wince, occasional grunt or a request for Ibuprofen.
This time I watched him flop around and writhe in the bed. This time he squeezed my hand as tight as he could while he held onto the bed because the meds just weren’t doing it.
When it came time to say goodbye I watched him pull himself together and be Grandpa. And I watched my then 17.5 year-old son show maturity beyond his years.
He was the ambassador for all of the grandchildren, the last one to see Grandpa and the one who took on something uncomfortable and hard for adults with so much poise.
In some ways it was a gift for both of them. I have told my son more than once it as the prime example of “say it once or live with your loss.”
Say It Now Or Live With Your Loss has become one of my unofficial mantras.
Buried more than a few friends and family members and have let go of people who were once important to me having done my best to live by it.
It is an easy tool for me to measure my feelings about and to people. If I think about saying goodbye and have no burning desire to share my thoughts/feelings about you then you are not of particular importance in my life.
If we dated and took a hiatus or ended things this is/was part of how I processed whether to say we ought to try again or shrugged my shoulders and said it was an experience.
Didn’t always have to be in person, a letter could work too.
My daughter, the “can’t wait to go to college” high school senior asked me when I started writing.
I told her long before she was born not because I was being snarky but because I wanted to think about how to define it.
Started blogging around 2003 so you could say 18 years but that ignores my time on my junior high and high school newspapers.
I had columns in both of them so you could argue that I began close to 40 years ago.
Long enough that some of you will wonder why my skills are so weak and others will consider that an explanation for why they are strong.
Now that we covered the positions that five of you will take we’ll put the rest in the middle column which includes ambivalent, neutral and comatose.
During the conversation with the girl that stole my hair I told her that I am excited to witness that story that has yet to be written. I followed it up with mentioning that my story isn’t fully written either.
She rolled her eyes and I said the point of mentioning it was to remind her that we are rarely truly locked in place.
There are always opportunities to adapt, adjust and or pivot so that our lives meet us where we are as well as where we plan to be.
She may have a sense that I am working hard to try to do more to prepare her for school and life away from home.
But I am also certain she doesn’t understand all of my perspective and that is ok. By 17 her personality and character are pretty well formed and there is not much I can do to make big changes.
She is who she is.
I am proud of her and very confident in her abilities and excited to see where she goes in life but that doesn’t preclude my trying to provide more of these lessons.
She doesn’t just get a booster shot for Covid, she gets a booster shot for life lessons from Dad or so I see it.
Damn if this whole parenting thing hasn’t gone faster than I expected it too.