Jackie Graduates, Mom Reminisces

Jackie graduated last week.  She is leaving a year earlier than planned – she took a full year of college classes which counted as two years of high school, so she will be leaving in the fall.  When Nathan went to college I felt like my heart was being torn right out of my body.  It was hard to leave at college Greg after being his hospital roommate for almost a year.  Now here goes number three and it does not get much easier – this is my first daughter to leave and I am finding it to be a whole new experience.  Daughters are special friends, especially after they have surgery and do online school for months – I rather like having her around!
Despite the sadness of the children leaving — each time I have found that we all adjust quickly and their lives just continue to get better.  I love watching them have positive adult experiences, and I enjoy the change in our parent-child relationships.

Lori, Tom, Me
Mom & Dad

My older brother also visited last week – he came from Seattle for our little family graduation party.  We had some time alone together and enjoyed reminiscing about our own high school years.  We went to a small high school in a small town – Hayden, CO.  Most people we grew up with had lived there all of their lives and several still do.  We didn’t really ever feel that we fit in, but we did have good experiences.  The amazing thing is how we both have strong feelings of friendship for those people.  He has much more contact with them than I do, but I often find myself wondering
where they are and what they are doing.
Why does high school still have an effect on my life?  Is it because we had such a small school so that everyone knew everyone else?  Is it just the time of life – such formative years?  Maybe it is just my tendency to think too much – it started young.  Most likely none of them remember that I was there – but I am grateful when I think of the positive impact those years had on my life.

With Jennifer – a good friend made
better by having a snowmobile
in a town with lots of snow!

I had a best friend named Jennifer.  We were more like sisters – always together and sharing everything.  Not many girls are so blessed as I was to have a friend like this.  Together we were cheerleaders, did drama club, wore matching “Braces are Beautiful” t-shirts and both went on foreign exchange experiences.  She came to my church activities and even went on vacation with my family more than once.  She was more outgoing than I was and I observed her to learn leadership skills.  She had a car and her dad paid for her gas.  Mostly we had a lot of fun – great memories.
Most of my guy-friends were not only athletic, they were smart.  This meant I could enjoy being in AP classes which were small and had a higher male-female ratio.  A nice perk in high school.  Academic competition with them as well as a few girlfriends kept me on my toes and certainly contributed to success in college.  Haha – I only thought of it as competition when one of the girls announced to me that she was out to beat me in a particular class – she didn’t.  Also… after Scott was the 8th grade valedictorian and I was salutatorian… I decided our roles would be reversed in high school – and they were…barely.  He was so nice, he probably never even thought about it.

Haha – Scott and I both received
an Elks Scholarship.

I often wonder if I was nice enough…
There are two incidences that stand out to me as having a positive influence.  The first one wasn’t really in high school, but rather during those Hayden years.  (Since no one really moved in or out of town, the years and the people can all blur together.)  It was also not a positive experience, just a positive outcome:
My children still laugh at the memory of me telling them, “This is the spot where I said a bad word.”  It was in Riverton, WY – just down the street from where I got off the bus in 6th grade.  There on the driveway of our home was another spot… and, well, that is about it.  I have plenty of weaknesses to work through – but, thankfully, vulgar language is not one of them.  I didn’t like the way it felt then… and to solidify those feelings… I was not happy about moving to Hayden.  During Social Studies there was not a desk for me and I had to lean against the back counter (just one day).  As the new girl in 7th grade there was naturally some curiosity and more attention than I was comfortable with; and some of that attention was coming my way from the boys in the back of the room.  They became inappropriate and I found it repulsive – later that day I overheard one of those boys swearing and I vowed to never be like them.  Whereas in sixth grade I may have allowed those words to enter my mind, if not my mouth – my new resolve to not be like “Hayden-kids” helped me to keep not just my mouth, but also my thoughts, clean.  I was never friends with those two boys, but as I did become friends with other Hayden-kids I appreciated that, for the most part, they respected my decision and kept their language clean.  Hmmm – I can still see my 7th grade locker and hear that boy swearing.  I am so glad that he did.

Jenn, Me, Angie, Teresa
Our uniforms don’t match because
Shannon’s burned in a house fire.

(Unfortunately it was many years later before I realized that there are many ways to tame one’s tongue, and for me sarcasm was still a challenge.  I hope that I didn’t hurt too many feelings – it was never intended.)
My second incident also involves a young man and something that he said to me.  I simply cannot recall the details – but his words echo in my mind quite often.  Unlike the first two boys, this young man was very nice.  He and I dated while we were Juniors.  He had a very nice mother and a younger brother.  I cannot recall meeting his father because he worked nights and slept during the day.  One day we were discussing life and I said something like, “Why doesn’t so-and-so just do thus-and-such?”  He stopped me – looked directly at me and said, “Don’t you realize that not all families are like yours?”  This sounds so simple, but to me it was profound.  It was as though this one moment in time  jolted my naiveté and started me on the path to more adult emotions – taking me from I-am-a-teenager-and-cannot-see-beyond-myself to what-can-I-do-to-make-all-of-these-people-around-me-have-a-better-life?  (I still have along way to go on that path.)  I did come from an exceptionally nice family – but as soon as this was pointed out to me, I became humbly grateful for them and aware that where much is given, much is required!
Well, so much for my jaunt down memory lane – there are so many lessons for us to learn in life.  As I have been typing I have been thinking about these two experiences and here is what I have come up with:  Because I had begun to pray in earnest during sixth grade, I had opened my life to promptings by the Holy Ghost.  I can now see that these incidents were turning points – the words of others striking my spirit in such a way that I was forever changed.  I was asking for help to be a better person, and I was put onto a path with those who helped me along the way.

Mark – Best Dad Ever!!

I do love my life.  I love all of those people who have been an influence to me.  I really, really love those six fine people I am currently raising… I hope that I am helping to lead them along the correct paths so they can continue on as they leave “the nest” … and I really, really, really love my favorite young man of all.  My path was truly illuminated the day we began our journey together.  He has a positive influence on me every day and I am forever grateful for his love!  Today is Fathers Day and I can hear him –the kids woke him up from his after-church-rest… I have heard them discussing dog names (for the inevitable new dog coming our way soon…), sampling Kimberly’s cookies, and I believe that he is now playing ping pong with one while the others are plotting to include him in a game of Risk.  How blessed I am to have him alongside me as we teach, train and love our little family.  I do love my life!

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