But some things never get any easier.
I forgot to tell him how proud I am of him ~ not just of his accomplishments, but of the strong, thoughtful, confident, responsible man he has become. I did tell him that I would miss him next year when he left for college. And challenged him to remember that we are God's hands and feet here in the world, and that wherever he goes, he should look to see where God is at work and then go join Him! I also quoted the words of William Carey, the father of modern missions: Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God!
Then my husband took the microphone. Two years ago, he presented my daughter with a brick at her graduation. Neither she nor I had any idea what that was for! But he explained that it was a brick from our walkway, so that she would have a little piece of home with her, remind her that Jesus was her "rock", and have an opportunity to share her faith with people at college when they asked why she had a brick on her desk! This time, Mark started by explaining that we have a 2 yr old dog ~ a big, strong shepherd/lab mix named Ranger that thinks he is a sled dog, and that Eric walks every night before he goes to bed. Then Mark pulled Ranger's leash out of a bag and presented it to Eric. He said that this was to remind Eric of home and that he would always have a job when he returned ( since walking the dog will become my husband's job since no one else is really strong enough to handle "the beast" ). Also, he is to hang it on his dorm room wall, to cause him to think about who or what is "leading" him...and where... and also to think about who he is leading.
After all the students had received their diplomas, there was a "slice of life" multi-media slide show, set to music by Mark Harris, Chris Rice, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Casting Crowns, of childhood pictures of each graduate. Then the students stood, and at the instruction of Dr. Ladd, turned their tassles from the right to the left, signifying their graduation from one stage of life to the next! The band played a recessional as the graduates marched out to happy cheers and applause! They formed a receiving line in the lobby, which was quickly jam packed with hugging and beaming family members and friends. A reception followed in the church fellowship hall, where a committee of senior mothers had planned a spread which included punch fountains and plates of cookies and pastries. We had decided against sheet cakes or cupcakes, based on previous years' experience, in which too much cake was left over and messy icing made clean up difficult! A half dozen or so juniors served as Junior Marshalls and they, along with a few of their moms, were responsible for serving and clean up.
We got a quick drink of punch, but then gathered our family together, which included Grandpa Tony, Grandma Marge, Aunt Sue, and cousins Chelsea and Michael from Massachusetts, for pictures with Eric in the lobby. I was surprised that the ceremony had only taken an hour and a half! We had anticipated at least a 2 hour ceremony!
We went back home to get ready for the big party that was planned for late that afternoon. My friend, Eve, and her daughters were already at my house, getting the food ready. Thank you! Thank you!! I had made 3 lasagnas and 4 pizzas the day before; meatballs & spaghetti sauce were in the crockpot; bags of sandwich rolls from the grocery bakery were cut and ready; a big bowl of blueberries and cut up strawberries, and another of cut watermelon, were put on on the table. Eve and I finished assembling 2 antipasto platters, which consisted of a bed of shredded lettuce, chopped red onion, and chopped cucumber, topped with an arrangement of artichoke hearts, olives, chopped tomato, sliced pepperoni, rolled salami, rolled ham, rolled turkey, rolled capicola, slices of American and Provolone cheese, peperoncini, and roasted red pepper. My niece and I had made a chocolate brownie trifle - chunks of brownies layered with caramel sauce, toffee bits, chocolate mousse, and whipped cream. Very decadent!! My friend, Colleen, brought over a homemade cheesecake which was to die for! I wasn't sure if there would be too much food, or not enough... but it turned out just right. I had one lasagna left over, about half of the rolls, and one of the antipastos, but everything else was gone! A couple of family friends came by, and then a ton of Eric's friends from camp decended on the house. It was too hot to be outside, so everyone crammed into our not-too-large house, eating, playing Guitar Hero, talking, and laughing. Amanda had covered a tri-fold display board with photos of Eric, from baby to present. That was on a table, along with his yearbook, and people enjoyed looking at that. The last stragglers left the house at about 12:30 am.
A year of planning, a week of heavy duty cleaning and cooking, and it was over in a few hours. I think Eric will have good memories of his high school graduation.