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January 20th, 2017

Bitter-Sweet Changes

 

“It’s a funny ol’ world, isn’t it?” (That happens to be my favorite Jack Sparrow quote, from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series.) Yes, Jack, I would agree that it’s a funny ol’ world. Unfortunately, at least to me, some of the ‘funniness’ isn’t all that funny, this year.

You see, Friday, the week that this paper comes out, is the day that our youngest child, Emily, graduates from high school. (Tears welling up already.) The day will be both heartening and a bit heart-breaking for Emily’s mom and me, for certain. Em is a very accomplished student, the valedictorian of her graduating class, a member of the American Christian Honor Society, the president of her student council, a wonderful nearly-professional photographer, and just a natural leader. Whew! Just writing all of that was a bit tiring, but I did need to brag a bit. Emily will also soon be heading out on her second summer missions trip to assist the students at a Christian school in Africa, and then, for her, it’s off to college. She, who has accomplished all of this while excelling at a full-time fast food restaurant job, will make a speech and sing a solo during what will be the last high school commencement I will ever attend where one of my own children is graduating. Her mom and I could not be more proud of her.

Yes, the end of this school year will be remembered as a bitter-sweet experience for me, as it may be for you, if one of your children happens to be graduating. I have the honor of being one of Emily’s teachers, so will be on the stage with her, physically, that graduation evening. Mentally, emotionally, I will be elsewhere; a basket-case, in a corner, watching, thinking, taking in the near-future events for what they are; for what they will be. What else can a proud parent do? I will do my best to stay out of the way; to silently observe the graduates, especially my daughter, having the times of their lives, both on graduation night, and as their summer progresses.

As time goes on, and as I get steadily older, (I have realized that this getting-older bit will probably continue until I die) I think that part of living, and indeed, of surviving, in this ‘funny ol’ world,’ is found in an attempt to heed the following advice that I once read, and frequently recall: “Take kindly the council of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.” -Desiderata. (Google it. You won’t regret it.) When I was younger I wondered why older people seemed to move more slowly than younger ones. I almost pitied them, as I watched them prattle around in stores, or on the street. Now that I am closing in on being one of them, I understand all of that a bit better. I have come to the conclusion that some older people move slowly because they have no choice. Others, because they do have a choice, and choose to take their time. That is a lesson seemingly impossible to learn when young, but one most older folks have learned very well. A good friend of mine once said: “I don’t mind leaving early, but don’t rush me.” I heartily concur.

As you read this, my family will be right in the middle of a very busy week. We will have a lot of company visiting in the area, and all will be celebrating Em’s great accomplishments, with us. Soon after that, plans will begin to form around the Africa trip, and then of packing her off to college. To me, all of that has the potential of being very stressful, and very sad. My goal is to not allow the idea of ‘sad’ to be how I ‘experience’ the experience. Life will be changing for our family, as it perhaps has, or soon will be changing, for yours. Such changes, even though they are positive and good, are forever, and I am doing my best to see those things in a positive light.

Parents pass the torch to the next generation, even as we pass the tissues to each other. Graduations, truly, are the commencement of wonderful future adventures for those graduating, and the ends of eras for those left behind. Both of those things are as they should be.

Congratulations to the Websterville Baptist Christian School class of 2014! To my daughter Emily… (this is my newspaper column, so I can say it if I want to) I love you more than I can tell you, I will always pray for you daily, and I will never be more proud of anyone than I am of you. Dad.

I am trying my best to graciously accept the fact that Jack Sparrow was right. This really is “a funny ol’ world.”

 

George’s World,” a new 740 page collection of George’s columns from The World, is available at xlibris.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and your favorite bookstore. “The Smoke And Mirrors Effect,” George’s first novel, can be seen at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Happy Reading!

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