Honeysuckle vine, with its yellow and white flowers and sweet fragrance, has always bloomed on the banks of Clay at graduation time. Its unforgettable, clinging scent has always loosed a flood of memories of my own graduation, reminiscent of marching graduates, caps and gowns, and diplomas. It brings back the excitement of that time; sadness in knowing that a stage of my life was forever gone, and that quivery feeling of standing on the brink of adulthood. High school graduation has always been a mixture of tears, and laughter and memories.
It has been 65 years since I marched across the stage and received my diploma, yet the memory is still bright in my mind. I was only 16, greener than a gourd, and much water has flowed over the bridge of life since that time. I had plans and daydreams, but I found out the hard way that life never turns out the way we have planned. There are curves in the road, unexpected rough places, and huge obstacles placed in our path.
There was that same lump-in-the-throat feeling when we watched our first child graduate from high school. He marched across the stage, grim and determined, and we felt that we had passed another milestone in our own lives. There have been many milestones since then. All six of our children went through this procedure (one was valedictorian of his class) and 16 of our 22 grandchildren have passed this stage, with four more receiving their diplomas this year. Our second great-grandchild is graduating this year, and with only two more grandchildren to go, we deserve a rest!
I’m sure these new graduates are full of plans, daydreams and hopes for the future, just as we were. Life really is uncertain, and we never know what time will bring to us. Our former pastor preached a message some time ago about the changes that time has wrought. He said that nothing ever remains the same in this life, and it is true that our lives are just a series of mileposts. Death is part of life, and if time lasts, it will come to all of us.
Just like the high school graduates, we hover from time to time on the threshold of another stage of our life until we come to that final one. The most important thing in our lives, young or old, is to know that we can stand before God uncondemned.
The grade school scholars, however, are not having these heavy thoughts. Their minds are filled up with thoughts of the coming school vacation and a long summer to “just have fun.” It seemed that daisies were always blooming when school let out, just as they are this year. Remember that “glad in the freedom of school let out” feeling? No more lessons, hot school rooms or long, boring afternoons. It was a heady sense of freedom—day after day stretching endlessly—long, barefoot days spent wading the creek, playing in the woods and running through the fields. Summer seemed then as if it would last forever. Too soon, just like our childhood, it vanished.
We were happy in our freedom until the time of high school graduation—and then there was regret mingled with the freedom. There was a sad sense of parting, and the knowledge that some of the students that we had gone to school with for 12 years, we would never see again. (This was so true.)
The grandchildren grew up too fast. I was reading an old column about Luke and Adrian when they were little, and it hurts my heart. Luke had a vivid imagination, and Adrian was his loyal companion. On that day they were hunting in the upstairs bedrooms. Luke had on his camouflage cap, and was armed with cap-busters. Adrian carried his “airbow” (bow and arrow) as they intently stalked the wild turkey. He climbs up on my lap, and takes his little pink thumb (the only clean part about him) long enough to say, “I wuv you wiss all my heart.”
Then Luke, who is in kindergarten, tells me, “I fink I’ll get my clothes and live with you.” “That’s nice, Luke,” I answer. “Just how long are you going to stay?” “Oh, probably the rest of my life,” he says seriously. I feel loved. Who knew what the future held for them?
I had growing pains with each grandchild as they made the transition from babyhood to school days, and I know the growing-up process is inevitable. We turn them loose with trembling hands and heart pangs. As they reach each landmark, we pray that God will keep and protect them, and ever lead them in the way of truth. We can’t keep them little, and we must let them go no matter how our hearts hurt. A good beginning is so important, and sets the steps for future generations. That is life; one generation moves on, and the next generation takes their place. We can’t stop the wheel of time.
The most important thing we can do for them is to bring them up in the way of the Lord. We must begin early. I have read that the first seven years of a child’s life sets the pattern for the rest of their life. We can’t wait until they are teenagers to begin teaching them; parents must, by word and example, “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22-6.
Criss is fond of saying, “You’ve got one shot at it. If you miss that chance (training children) you’ll never get another.”
By Vivian M. Meyer
Behind the sofa, under the chair,
Little Seth looked everywhere,
A moment before, all shining bright,
Reflecting a rainbow of pretty light,
Caught in an updraft, floating free,
Elusive as ever a thing could be,
Round, like his big brown eyes that searched.
That bubble had lingered before it burst:
With his youthful heart enchanted so,
He said, “Nana, Nana, where did it go?”
“Little grandson, sweet and dear,
I wish I could have kept it here.
As the bubble went, so the moments flee,
(When you are older, you will see.)
I look at the smile on your little face.
And see your father in your place.
Time is a bubble. I’d like to know,
Grandson, grandson, where did it go?”