Sunday, June 9, 2013

Graduation Day.... Part One!!!!

How can you put an entire year into a few simple words? I personally have never been one for a "few" words. I ramble, talking so fast at times that some can't seem to catch up. As "we" all try and find the new "normal" path post cancer, I find myself taking it literally one step at a time.

Zack has been full steam ahead! Nightly bonfires with friends, running from one house to another. A simple text from me with "WRU?" (where are you?), requires only a simple response... "Drakes, T Dubbs, Donald's or the ever popular Walmart parking lot!" 

It is 4 pm on Friday, May 31st, 2013. I arrive at the Brevard Music Center, the location of Zack's class of 2013 graduation. Today marks exactly a year we met with the surgeon to schedule removal of the tumor I had just discovered the night before. The ceremony was to start at 6pm, but in this small town, if you don't arrive early to save your seats, there is nothing left. Frank had to work until the last minute, so it was up to me to be the guardian of the seats. I brought a supply of paper and tape, found a row of 15 seats and started marking each one with Fisher. Eight rows in front of us were already roped off and marked with the names of many I knew throughout our years with Scouts, Schools and Sports. Slowly the Center started to fill with proud Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, Nephews and friends. As the seats start to fill, some are coming to me asking for paper and tape. As always, I was prepared to share and was eager to help others mark their seats. I was anxious and this gave me something to preoccupy my time. While waiting for everyone in our party to arrive, I had a mild altercation with a man and his father, both of whom had been drinking and became loud and obnoxious. I firmly asked them three times to please be pleasant as all of our kids are here to be celebrated. Each time, they mellowed out a bit, until I finally, turned around and advised that I would be glad to personally escort them out of the building! I had not trouble after that. As family arrived, our seats started to fill as well, Mom, Rhonda, Peter, Frank, then Bill and Amy (Zack's "other" parents), Shawn, Floyd and Darrick followed by nephew, Nick and Havely (his partner) whom arrived straight from Blacksburg, VA where he will graduate the next day, Jim (nephew) came in just in time from Chapel Hill, NC, and sister in law Jamie. Just as the procession of teachers,  followed by students started to walk down the aisles, a couple stood next to our seats. BFF Nancy and her family were on the side of the Center trying to get to us, so their seats "looked" available. The lady approached Frank and I and asked if the seats were taken.  I explained that my friends were making their way down and apologized. She then asked a couple in back of us, who also had their family walking down the aisle. The couple then stood in the middle of the walkway and announced they would not move until someone gave them seats. As the processional music started to play and everyone stood up to honor the students, I asked the couple to please move out of the pathway, the woman looked me straight in eyes and said "we don't have anywhere to sit!" I finally looked back at her and announced "IF you had arrived here at 4pm like the rest of us, YOU would HAVE a seat!!, now move!" Surprised, she looked at me and simply said "really?? seriously?" to which I replied "seriously!" She and her husband promptly left the area while folks around me started to pat me on the back and congratulate me. NOT my proudest moment to say the least, but as always, don't mess with big mama!!

Zack walked down the aisle opposite us, so we could only see him from afar. One by one, his friends were walking past us as we screamed with excitement. The usual speeches were given, this year was light and full of energy. The student body president was full of humor and the graduates interacted the entire time. As the graduates crossed the stage, you could hear the shouts, applause and horns blowing. We were all asked to "hold your applause until after the ceremony", but I don't know too many people that follow "the rules" at these events. As we were watching these "kids" cross, Frank and I remark where we knew each one from. We were walking down memory lane and had permanent smiles on the entire time. What amazing young men and women this group is, and we can't wait to see where life brings them. One young man was escorted across the stage in his wheelchair, the entire auditorium stood to honor him, a little while later another young man was helped by both parents and again everyone stood. When it came to Zacks time, all of the graduates and teachers stood, applauding, then (of course) as I'm crying, over half the auditorium stood up. As I looked around, I could see some looking around puzzled, almost as if to say "why are we standing for him?" I had to laugh and cry at the same time. A year ago, we had no idea of his graduating, let alone crossing the stage on his own. I was thankful that some didn't understand, it meant he "looked" just like everyone else. What a blessing!! After the ceremony, we all gathered on the lawn for photos. Fortunately Mom, Rhonda and Amy had cameras as Franks died during pictures as did my cell phone. I can only explain my emotions as those of someone getting married, I was there, but oblivious to anything around me. As "they" say, a picture is worth a thousand words, though I had to do both. 
waiting for the ceremony to begin

graduating class of 2013

Zack, Uncle Mitch and Trenton P
Zack with cousin Darrick
Zack with his Meme
Aunt Jamie, Dad Frank and Niece Abby

Zack with 2nd Dad, Bill
Family friend Romona
"my" two sons, Zack and Chris F.
waiting for guests

Frank, Havley and Nick

Frank and Trenton P

Mitch, Meme (Mom) and Nick

Zack and Cousin Peter

best buddies, Zack and Trenton

Dad taking photo of Mom and Zack 

The master photographers

With Aunts Sissy, Tammy , Uncle Mitch and Abby

Meme crying happy tears

Cousin Nick congratulating

A smile for the camera!

Me, Zack, Cousin Darrick and Aunt Jamie

Always keep the eyes on the camera!

Fellow graduates!

Bill hugging "the mama!"

THE MASTER photographer

Mama and son!!

the girls find their way to Zack

another dear friend

and another.....

and another......

"papa" Brian

Zack, Austin O. and Trenton P. best of friends!

"My boys!"

"He" did it!!!

The happy graduates!

Cousins Nick and Jim

"A reason to be proud!"

No comments:

Post a Comment