The mother of baby boy's girlfriend and I stood at the entrance of her den where her two grown children, my two grown children, and the two lovely wives of our elder children were all seated.
"We are blessed," I said, and she wholeheartedly agreed.
Her daughter had walked across the stage at commencement exercises at Valdosta State University just a few hours earlier, the reason for our gathering, to celebrate her success in completing college. Baby boy flew in from Colorado, reunited with his high school sweetheart after a six months telecommuter relationship for the whirlwind weekend of a pinning ceremony and abundant pomp and circumstance.
The Pomp and Circumstance Marches bring on the waterworks for me, but then again, so do altogether too many other things. I am beyond ready for this phase of life to pass! At 50, it's a precarious thing to wish any part of one's life away, but I prefer the state of emotional and hormonal being when I could schedule tears for my privacy and convenience.
Like anyone else, I prefer joy to sorrow, so if those blankety-blank tears insist on bursting the dam, I'll share the joy that accompanies them.
Back to the living room full of "kids."
Every one of them possesses a college degree now. I believe my generation oversold the power of a degree. With an economy walking atop greased floors wearing banana peel shoes, our promise of perfect financial security has been broken. My firstborn recently spoke of an impending crash of the stock market, predicted by a Nobel prize winner.
During commencement exercises, when the university president spoke of the glowing future ahead for the about-to-be graduates, the same son quipped, "And here's your light bill."
Is he jaded?
No, I don't think so. Even when he said his generation overall will not achieve on the level of their parents financially, I did not think him overly negative. All too many of us were living beyond our means with too generous credit which led to problems nationwide, worldwide. It was a façade, and when those crumble, it is time to deal with real issues.
(my kids get their serious side from me, the photo bomber on the right)
And steering from caution and concerns, I veer back toward joy.
These kids are taking life by the horns and living it anyway.
Buying a house, moving across the country, finding jobs, supporting themselves with no assistance from their parents, and as far as I can see, not one of them is tattooed or pierced in areas which could hinder them from any job in the public sector.
They are traveling, taking up snowboarding, adopting pets, and all in all, living life optimistically with a strong dose of realism.
As the Bible describes this life, it is a mist, a vapor. My husband and I marvel how quickly it has passed, is passing. We went from our own young life of sailing, driving fast cars, fishing in the sea, playing racquetball to a marriage, establishing a home, having children, helping parents and even a sibling deal with the waning days of their lives, buried them, and survived to tell the story.
It is all in there. Joy. Sorrow. Triumph. Disappointments. Accomplishments. Failures. Applause. Tears.
Blasted tears. But I must give them their props, they multi-task to cover the good and the bad, the bittersweet.
Baby boy returns to Colorado today, so far away, but amazingly, with a few finger taps, all of us can see him, albeit with the sound not quite synchronized with his likeness. In a few weeks, his girlfriend will follow him out there, looking for work in her field. They'll be next door neighbors in an apartment complex with a lovely view of the mountains and a sunny outlook on the future.
A part of the parents' lives comes to a close and a part of the kids' lives is just beginning to open. Baby boy's mama coaxes him to move to the mountains in the eastern part of the country, a little closer to home, and his girlfriend's mother tries in vain to get them to put GPS trackers on their phones so she'll know for sure they haven't fallen off a cliff.
They'll have to be patient with us as we learn how to let go. We don't do one thing to hinder them from packing their bags and embarking on the life the Lord has planned for them to live; the lag time of the inward evolution, waiting to see that they'll be all right without us, is where we are still trying to grow up ourselves.
And I know all of us ultimately will be just fine.