2007.05.23 The last one

Written by David Green.

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 

 

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