Thursday, August 20, 2009


Yellow seems to be the prevailing color these days, especially on the highways and byways of our fair community. Those large purveyors of our youth, the school buses, are signaling the start of yet another school year.
For some, kids and parents alike, it’s just the latest piece of the recurring puzzle. Shopping for shoes, a new backpack, maybe even a computer on tax-free weekend. A fond farewell to the lazier days of a summer well spent.
But for others, those entering into a new era, it can be a time of tears and trepidation.
Our little clan is feeling it at both ends of the school age spectrum. At the front side, the older grandkids are stepping out into the world of pencils and crayons with full force. The first two girls are big-shot first graders now, relative veterans in the game. The next, the first boy, is tackling full day kindergarten. It was a precious moment when Clara, one of the vets, called her younger cousin the day before school started.
“Don’t be nervous, Bubba. I was at first but then it’s okay. You get used to it.” A bit of love at the “littles” level.
Now at the other end of the school span, we have the story of the Joanster. Off to mid-Missouri we trekked last week, two carloads of clothes and bags and shoes and hampers in tow. As we packed up that morning, I stopped for a moment and looked around the neighborhood. Where did that little kid go who at two years old grabbed the string of ID cards and her big sisters swimsuit and toddled 2 blocks to the community pool? Who at four insisted she spoke Spanish, and jabbered incessantly to her Cabbage Patch doll with the broken piece in the noggin that she named Baby Shaky Head? The kid who rolled up and down the sidewalk for hours on her scooter with best friend Sammy, their pink oversized helmets jostling all the way?
How could it be that this beautiful birdie was about to fly?
Those nests we build seem to take a lifetime to finish. Then, in a day, in an hour, in an instant, they’re empty. For us, this marks the end of a 34-year era. For her, it’s the start of a grand adventure. Joanie’s mommy, who has used up her yearly allotment of Kleenex during these past few days, has a favorite quote for moments such as this. It comes from the song “Closing Time”, and it goes “Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”
For years, we had a poster that also helps sum up what this is all about. The script is simple, yet profound.
“There are two great things parents can give their children. One is roots. The other, wings.”
As we and countless others out there bid goodbye to our own, some for a day, some for longer, we pray that these roots have grown deep enough.
And that those wings may they have the strength to reach heights unimagined.