HomeFaithOPINION: Graduation is as much a marker for parents as seniors

OPINION: Graduation is as much a marker for parents as seniors

by Todd E. Brady

Guest columnist

He was born on a Sunday in 2006—on Elvis’s birthday.  That morning, I left church between Sunday School and Worship, went back to the house, picked up Amy and went to the hospital.  William was born later that day at Jackson General.  When we’ve celebrated his birthday, it’s been with a nod to the King of Rock and Roll.  Jailhouse Rock has always been a special song.

Lots of water has passed under the bridge, and now a sign stands in our front yard announcing to all passers-by that a Graduating Senior lives in our house.  I stare at that sign every morning when I leave for work.  His older brother’s Graduating Senior sign is hanging in our garage.  Where did the time go?  After William’s graduation, we will have three others to go.

The Augustine School asked for some digital photos to show at graduation.  We’ve spent way more time than we should looking at pictures and reliving memories.  What should have taken about 20 minutes took several hours.

While high school graduation is a big deal for a Senior, it’s a bigger deal for the parents.  It’s a milestone—a marker of time for them, but parents have a better understanding of time than their children do.  A wise person once told me that the parent always loves the child more than the child loves the parent.  It’s taken being a parent for over 20 years to realize that reality, but I get it.

We are having a special dinner before graduation for all the Seniors in our church.  The church has also asked for pictures from years gone by.  That dinner will be a “lump-in-the-throat” kind of event as our pastors pray over the students.

Before William turned 16, I remember taking all five brothers to school.  We were all packed together in the cab of the truck.  Since I dropped the boys off every morning, I had an official carpool-line, school placard that hung from my rearview mirror.  My number was 011. 

William now drives his brothers to school.  From here on out, we’ll have boys eventually old enough to drive themselves.  I’ll never take boys to school again, but I still have that carpool-line placard in my car.  I’m going to keep it in the compartment of my door.  I can’t bring myself to get rid of it.  It just reminds me of too many memories.

My wife has already shed tears anticipating this soon-coming graduation.  I’m glad it’s such a profound milestone for our son and for us.  It seems that this is the way it’s supposed to be.  I think it’s right to feel a mixture of pride and sadness.

Boys grow up.  The point of boyhood is manhood.  William is going to be a man much longer than he was ever a boy.  The Apostle Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  1 Corinthians 13:11

Tricycles, balls, and the wagon used to be scattered across our yard.  The treehouse is now empty, and the zipline hangs between two trees in the backyard without anyone ever getting on it.  There once was a day for those things.  Now is a day for other things.  One chapter has concluded.  The story continues.  Now, we turn to the beginning of the next chapter. 

There’s a reason it’s called Commencement.

Congratulations, William!

Todd E. Brady serves as Staff Chaplain and Advanced Funeral Planner at Arrington Funeral Directors.  He and his wife, Amy have five sons.  You may write to him at tbrady@afgemail.net.

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