Graduation marks next milestone

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Milestones. What a solid sounding word. It is a word that conveys its own importance.

We all use it to tell about something significant, our child’s first step or first word, passing certain dates in our careers, weddings and anniversaries. Funny thing is that important sounding word is always used to describe things that are fleeting in time, moments that pass by like a whisper of wind. Saturday was one of those milestones for our family.

My son Matthew graduated from Ole Miss Saturday. Yes, it was only four years ago that I wrote about taking him to school and helping him and his roommate Drew get settled into their room.

And, like all the other parents, on Saturday, I tried to grasp where those four years went. How did they get away from me so quickly? Sitting there with me was my father and stepmother who looked remarkably the same. But beside them was a young lady of 17 who is supposed to be my baby and a married couple of which one half is my other little girl. Also sitting with us was another young lady that I know is very special to my son and her parents and grandmother.

As I waited for the procession to begin I watched the crowd, and it was easy to pick out who was who. Siblings and friends of the graduates all laughed and talked, some were on their phones others were walking around.

Grandparents were fairly easy to spot, they were the older crowd who looked very relaxed and happy. Then there was the other group, the parents. They were the ones with the small smiles on their faces, the look that says “how did we get here so quickly.”

Much too soon the music began and in came the graduates, and there he was standing tall and proud in his cap and gown looking every inch a grownup, until he spotted us in the crowd.

Then, for just a brief fleeting moment, my little boy was there with his big smile and thumbs up for me and his family.

I immediately thought of the first football game he attended at Ole Miss. His father had brought him when he was about four and a half and they sat with Dr. Dawkins in the seats we still sit today. I had packed his ninja turtle backpack with toys and snacks so that hopefully he wouldn’t get bored and drive David and Dr. Dawkins crazy. The trip was a huge success and was the first of many for him and his dad. His love of Ole Miss runs deep, and I know it is related to the time he spent there with his dad.

The last name was called, well wishes for the grads from the speaker and there we were in the sunshine taking pictures, another milestone being documented.

Another important moment had come and gone. His sisters laughed at him, his brother-in-law shook his hand, his grandparents beamed, and I cried. And off we went to the next graduation to watch his girlfriend Lizzie, his roommate Drew and several others march to the same music and their parents watch with the same bemused expression.

That night I turned to see Lizzie’s mom stop and hug Matthew, and I thought about all the milestones yet to come. Moments that would fly by, and I realized that the word “milestone” might describe fleeting moments but they are as important as the word makes them sound.

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com