The girls are graduating from high school. It has required delicate logistical negotiations, because their graduations are on the same day, and too far apart, so yesterday we drove seven hours (round trip) to see our niece graduate from technical school, and some of the family will come to our daughter’s high school graduation and some will come to “the party” a few days later, so we will all “be there” one way or another.
We did not grasp the full meaning of “get there early.” Students from five area high schools had assembled with their supportive friends and relations, so the congregation filled a pretty large basketball arena, and we with our broken bodies climbed up to seats past the hand rails, leaning on each other. Between grandparents and aunts and cousins and friends, nine of us took up a whole row of bleacher on one side of the “stairs.” Our brother-in-law had the movie camera. I counted twenty-two rows of chairs on the basketball court for graduates, and our niece was in the third-to-last, so we had coaching on how to respond when the local school official read off her name and she walked across the stage, and I think we made a decent amount of noise, so it sounded like she had people there in force.
Since we had not grasped the full meaning of “get there early,” the car-parkers of the group had found empty curbs about five blocks away, so after the event and the pictures with gown and certificate we hiked slowly to the cars with our canes and creaking joints and iffy tickers and all, and my sister-in-law said “I don’t know when this happened” and I said “me, either” and after that more words would not help us say anything more about what was happening to us, so we just walked to the cars.
Then we had to work out where we were going to go eat and how to get there, and who was going to ride in which car since the girls had gone on ahead of us because they are living their lives apart from us a lot these days. But they texted us from the restaurant because it was already twenty after nine and they were going to close at ten. We said “they will not kick us out.”
The waiter and waitress at the restaurant were college students, and they were kind enough not to act like they minded having nine people show up at the end of the night, and they congratulated our niece and said “make sure to stay focused in college” and brought us cheese biscuits and glasses of water and ice tea and red wine and made fresh coffee. Our niece said she liked the present we gave her, and we told the story about how it was almost a complete disaster because we are clueless but our daughter saved the day at the last minute by telling us so and fixing it.
They did not kick us out at ten. We said a lot of thank-you’s and left a big tip. We sorted out who needed to drive whom to pick up cars that had been left at whose houses, we dropped off relatives, we stopped in for a minute, we drove home in the dark. Friday is a school day, a work day, another day.
That’s when it happened. All those days, day after day, ordinary as breakfast and laundry and a fresh pot of coffee, unremarkable and miraculous.