Eighteen years ago a little boy was born in Virginia. Like every child there was dreams of many great adventures and blessings to come. Yesterday one of the biggest phases of life came to fruition as my son Isaac donned the cap and gown and strode across the stage to accept the diploma signifying his completion of high school. As I told him and many others over the last few days, the usual expectation is that every child will be born, grow up, go to school, finish high school and go on to college. I certainly thought that when I received my bundle of joy SHortly before midnight on May 7 1995. Thankfully I was ignorant of the possibilities of complications many parents would face with their children.
We had some friends that had a son the same day and their experience was much different as they lost their son to cancer while our boys were in elementary school. I also learned others children my son’s age struggle with forms of autism and attention disorders. Every experience is unique. In ours God has blessed us abundantly all along the way. Knowing the blessings you have and giving thanks is something we understand.
Over thirteen years of school we have enjoyed so many memorable moments, but high school seemed to have more than any period in my son’s life. Our prayers for our children to be blessed with musical talent came true in spades, as both of them are in the band and chorus programs at their school. I can still remember the pride I felt when as an eight grade student my son walked on the field for his first marching band competition. I was nearly overwhelmed, but full of pride.
We have been to every band competition and every football game as Isaac and then Meredith crisscrossed our region to entertain us with their talent. Along the way the kids also added chorus concerts where my son became a regular soloist, providing me with more opportunities to be the proud papa. I love being a parent and watching my kids shine.
About ten days ago my son sang in his last chorus concert. Near the end of each spring concert the seniors sing a piece that is a tradition. This year my son was the only senior boy and so he got to belt out his piece alone. I think he was two or three words in before the waterworks began with me. I struggled to hold the video camera still as i listened to him sing his heart out and wow the crowd. I guess I was proud and sentimental at the same time, knowing it would be his last high school performance.
The same thing happened to me at his last marching band competition. When you do something for five years you kind of develop an affection for the thrills and I hated the thoughts of it coming to a close. Thankfully I still have the opportunity to enjoy the process with my daughter and will likely need some intervention by emotional counselors when she is a senior.
My son’s love of music is very broad, but biggest favorite genre is country music. As a surprise graduation present we whisked he and our daughter away for their first country music concert to Greensboro, North Carolina. They had no clue where we were going or why. As we turned into the Greensboro Coliseum complex we made them close their eyes. As we passed the parking area I saw four big rigs with the signature artist’s name and picture on them and was so glad we had asked them to close their eyes.
When we parked we covered their eyes and turned them where they could see the trailers and then did “the big reveal” as they say on television. The look on their faces was priceless. My son looked at me and said ” we are really here to see Jason Aldean? We told them not only Mr. Aldean, but Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett. They were beyond thrilled.
Graduation season is a magical time in every child’s life. It is a time where all the hard work pay off with the completion of a transition from childhood to adulthood. another passion of my son is hunting and firearms. His present to himself for his eighteenth birthday was a new 12 gauge shotgun. For him it was as much a statement of transition as anything.
Following his graduation yesterday we welcomed dozens of friends and family to our home for a celebration. With music, dancing, food, skeet and target shooting, I feel we let him know how proud we all are of him. You see I believe we have to congratulate our youth as they achieve these precious milestones. The odds for many kids are so great they just will not strive for what many consider to be automatic. I understand how blessed we are to have such an upstanding you man and I will take every opportunity to let him know.