Varied paths: Growing up, moving on


I remember the day my son climbed on that big yellow bus for the first time, heading off to kindergarten. I said something about it to my dad, my sad eyes giving away my frame of mind, and he said, “I want you to think about something – the alternative would be so much worse.”

He and I both knew there were children who never get to climb on that big yellow bus, taking those first tiny steps toward an independent life.

Last day. Just this past week, my daughter dressed up in her prettiest dress and headed off to her last day at the middle school. We watched as the eighth grade promotion ceremony unfolded, and listened as Caroline addressed the group, reading her poem that had been selected by her classmates to be part of the service.

I couldn’t help but think of the history held within those old brick walls. This is the same building that I walked through, step by step, first through eighth grades, and it is the same building from which my father graduated high school back in 1950.

Caroline walked across that same gymnasium floor in her high-heeled shoes on her last morning there that my father once played basketball on, wearing old black sneakers. And now, my youngest has finished her walk there, ready to move on to high school in just a couple of short months.

Reminder. It is a reminder of time flying. It is a tap on the shoulder, whispering to us that life marches on, generations come and go, enjoy the journey.

There are so many steps in this life, some celebrated, some barely noticed, but they all take us forward.

Moving on. My nephew, Bryan, is graduating high school today. I said to him the last time I saw him in the high school parking lot at the end of a school day recently, “Wow, Bub, just about 20 more days and you are done!” He laughed and said, “Um, I hate to tell you this, but I was DONE in about 1991!”

This is an enormous understatement, but Bub is the kind of guy who would much rather be outside planting things than inside dissecting dead animals in the science lab or diagramming sentences under the forced watch of an English teacher. When he sees classmates fighting back tears as they wrestle with the emotion of leaving school, he has that incredulous look of, “Are you kidding?”

Many ‘lasts.’ So, as one member of the family leaves the high school, another enters it in August. Caroline is ready for the challenges of new things, but she admits that it was sad to say goodbye to the way things have been and never will be again. In high school, classmates scatter, it is inevitable.

As the music director pointed out during the promotion ceremony, “These eighth graders are going to sing for you, and it always makes me sad to realize that this will be the last time they ever all sing together as an entire class.”

Time marches on, taking the cast of characters down many varied paths. This is the time of year we are reminded of that.

Enjoy the trip!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.