The Last Son
Today school is out. It occurred to me that my last son will be a senior. I am on the home stretch. One last year of a boy who carries my name, my genes, my heart, and who is my dependent. I know tax-wise, and logistically, he will not walk from graduation into adulthood, but it will be just a country mile from that.
I was looking at pictures earlier this morning before the sun came up. I have all three pictures from their first day of kindergarten. All three started at my mom’s house. They had on their little shorts and polo shirts, and my mom always bought a new book bag. A little lunch in a brown paper bag, pencils that fit a chubby hand and crayons that are named from the linseed oils that the original artists used. The kids don’t know this, and they have not a care in the world. Yet that day, so many years ago, one by one I felt like I do today. I knew in my heart this day would arrive. It just seems like it was yesterday that we started this journey.
I was young, had no health worries, and the world seemed built just for us. The endless warnings about strangers and puppies in a van that are almost never really there. The stories of too much of anything sexual will most assuredly make us blind. My parents young, my dad in the height of his career, it was all just there. I can still feel what the morning felt like when the oldest went, then the middle, and finally, the youngest. One by one they hit their own milestones, their first heartaches, their attempts at being sneaky which never worked in their favor because they had parents that had tried it all before they were even a wisp of air in the breeze.
I see my guy looking at colleges he might be interested in. He has two jobs, and he is making plans that do not involve me. All is normal, that is, healthy, but it makes me feel as I am standing in a stark white room. By myself, no senses, just a heart that is running on memories of three little boys that said prayers at bedtime and hugged and kissed us every night. These are all I have left of the “best years of my life.”
I am in grey, thick undercurrents of a heart filled with sadness. They are on their way. They have career goals, they are choosing political platforms that fill their beliefs. Not always do we agree, but that is fine. I am happy that life seems simple and oh-so-doable. They are idealistic, have answers at their fingertips, and not a cloud on the horizon. I choose not to tell them differently, they will see soon enough the bumps that are not visible, but they are there. Yes, they will hit them and fall. I will be there when they falter, but, for now, I will let their futures seem as bright as they dare to dream it so.
My youngest boy, how very proud I am of you! You are, in a way, the caboose of the McLeod boys. You have walked to your own beat, have not done things just because your brothers have. You do it your way, and that is a great way to live your life. Grab the prize, get the girl, be the cop. Do what you want, and don’t be afraid to fail. That is a part of growth that is needed or you won’t know when things have gone well.
In a year I will be getting ready for your graduation. The last one that walks the high school stage. I wonder what will have happened in the year that will be gone in a blink. You have made us proud! Go get 'em Buddy, have the best summer, the last one when you are a “kid." Love you, Mom.