This Friday, the seniors of Mason High School, class of 2008, will receive their diplomas. As I've done for a decade, I will be on the sidelines, taking their pictures and capturing the moment.
This one will be bittersweet, as this was Lilly Joy's class. As such, the last of "my kids" are graduating.
I started with Leslie. A few years later, there was Dewey. And now, Lilly. With each bunch, and the classes between, I had watched them grow. I had praised them and admonished them, and I came to love all of them.
I was worried that, with my three all gone, I would start to lose touch with many of the kids, and would not feel as connected. After all, we all know the kids up at school as long as we have kids of our own. Once our youngsters move on to life after high school, we start to forget names. We don't pay attention to as many of the playdays and special events that the kids have. It just doesn't mean the same to us.
I had decided that this was another of those, "of a certain age" things. Everyone I talked to said that it had happened to them. I needed to accept that I wouldn't know the kids as well anymore.
But then, I thought about Bode and Emma, and having watched them grow up. And Kason! I also remember Marshall, and watching him come out of his shell as he played around the square. And Jordan and Kelly. And then I've got Aaron and Connar, who, along with their friends, still call me Uncle Gerald.
And then I remembered, in Mason, you're family until the day you die. Kids still need role models and adult friends, and in a small community, that means all of us have to adopt them as our own. We have to go to their games, attend their plays, help them with their spelling, and correct their grammar. It's our responsibility to rebuke them when they make public gaffes, to praise them when they excel, and to wipe away their tears when they experience disappointment.
I watch Isaiah and Sadie, Christina's children, and hope they come to accept me as yet another uncle. Tammi Pinter was working here just prior to her Isaiah being born, and he still thinks of me as one of his own.
I still fill in at church teaching Sunday school, so there will be those kids. There are the ones in sports, UIL, art shows and so on, and they all know who I am, even if they don't all know my name.
Friday night may be the end of one era; but, I celebrate it as the beginning of another. On Saturday morning, I will begin my celebration of the second generation.
And I can't tell you how happy I am that they want me as badly as I want them!
It’s all just my opinion, but it’s what I wish would happen.