2007.05.23 The last one

Written by David Green.


As I was walking into the elementary school a few nights ago to take photos of the PTO Fun Night, it suddenly hit me that this just wasn’t right.

I haven’t had a child in elementary school since the year 2000. What am I doing here? What kind of eternal punishment is this? Unlike the smiling, excited kids at this event, I wouldn’t really describe this as a fun night. Just another night of work, taking photos of someone else’s kids, as usual.

I thought about calling Chris Wood to let her know it was her turn. We used to take turns covering the event when she worked at the Observer. She’s way, way overdue.

After Morenci’s senior class graduates later today (Sunday), there will be nothing left for me but taking photos of other people’s kids because my last one will be gone from school.

I was reminded of that over and over yesterday as I welcomed guests to Maddie’s open house. “Your last one.” “You’ll have an empty nest.” “So that’s the end of it.” “You made it through your last one.” “Your last one.”

A few people asked what I would do without any kids in the house. The best I could come up with is that I would have more time to work, to keep track of other people’s kids. That’s my role here.

I remember hearing from someone during the past week how we must be pros now with graduation open houses. Our third time, we must have it down.

I suppose we do know the ropes, especially with the help of Colleen’s book club friends who never discuss books together but always go out for dinner on each other’s birthdays and always work together to make their children’s graduation open houses come out right.

We may know some ropes, but it was an extremely hectic day Saturday bringing it all together in the church down the street. Fortunately, Colleen’s sister Linda flew in from Brooklyn to help out and to deliver exotic foods not found in Morenci.

When the first guests arrived shortly before 5 o’clock, I think we were ready. At least as far as I knew. I quit working and started shaking hands and listening about my last one.

I’d sooner take a walk in the woods than enter a crowded room of handshakers, but I recall thinking sometime in the evening how I was really enjoying myself.

It was a great mix of people from the present and past—many people that I see every week, others that I encounter mostly at a special occasion such as this.

The party was for our last one, but the first two were there also—a rarity now for everyone to gather—and there were some distant surprises walking through the door. You send an invitation mostly just to get the news out, not really expecting a visit.

I pushed from my mind thoughts about who should have been invited but was left off the large list. Instead, I walked over to slather a little hummus on pita bread.

People have said they look forward to the Green open houses to check out the food. I wonder what they expected this time.

Maddie is known as a person who doesn’t eat perhaps 90 percent of what everyone else eats. Included among her open house display items was a certificate from her grandfather noting the successful ingestion of one spoonful of lasagna. What would she want for a graduation party?

She’s long past her peanut butter and honey sandwich era. Hasn’t had one for years. Would it be the ants-on-a-log celery thing, the mainstay of her school lunches this year? Would she choose pizza, waffles, toast with brewer’s yeast? Would she keep it simple and go with Twix bars and orange juice?

The hummus and fava bean salad definitely weren’t Maddie’s choice. I think the macaroni and cheese was for her.

It seems like I would know how to spell her name by now, but I have to pause each time. After all, if you looked around the party room, you might have seen Maddy or Maddi or Maddie on various papers. Things have evolved over the years.

Indeed they have. In a few hours, she’ll walk to the podium and give her valedictorian address. Our last one moves on..

    –May 23, 2007 


  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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