It was 11 years ago when Wendy and I left our eldest son Greg at Central Michigan University to begin his quest for higher education. I remember Greg almost quit school right then when he spied a cowboy hat and guitar already dropped off by the roommate he hadn't yet met. He was sure it was a bad omen.
Fast forward a few years later and Greg was singing duets with his now best friend in one of the Mt. Pleasant pubs. His roommate turned out to be not such a bad guy after all.
One's journey past high school through the college years in a way mirrors life itself. You never know where you're going to end up or how you're going to get there. But somehow you manage and usually it turns out being not so bad.
That journey to college campuses near and far ended for Wendy and I this past weekend when we drove to Ithaca, New York, to watch our youngest son Scott graduate with a Master's Degree from Cornell University.
As we sat in the warm, muggy sun as thousands of academics processed to their seats inside Cornell's football stadium, I thought to myself, no more trips here. Or any other institution of higher learning. Not on behalf of my two boys anyway.
Not that Wendy and I made a habit of popping in on our boys as they earned their credits and counted down to commencement. But there was moving in, moving out, siblings day at Central Michigan, Easter at Michigan State, spring break at Cornell.
Along the way we discovered a cider mill north of East Lansing, spent a night at a quaint pub with live music in Mt. Pleasant to hear Greg's roommate entertain the revelers, and motored across Lake Seneca, one of New York's Finger Lakes, with Captain Bill's dinner cruise.
There were also trips to find Christmas tree farms and u-pick pumpkin patches, shopping trips to local supermarkets to help the boys stock up on groceries, and the inevitable dinner at a local restaurant.
We even one time watched one of Greg's intramural soccer games, remembering how we had watched him play organized soccer since he was eight-years-old. At this game, however, we were the only parents there. Some of Greg's friends teased that it was "cute" to have his parents as spectators.
We didn't witness all the major events, like the time Greg had the police burst in on him guns drawn while he was working the late shift at a local business. He shouldn't have ignored the alarm he had tripped. We weren't there either when Scott experienced tear gas first hand walking home during one of Michigan State's students encounters with local police in a post-victory celebration that got out of hand.
Now it's all history. Chapter's end. But another chapter begins. I like the theme of Cornell's commencement, described in the Cornell president's commencement address as well as in a video marking the occasion . . . goodbye Cornell, hello world.
Whether Scott's job leaves him here or Michigan or takes him somewhere else (Washington DC, he hopes), I'm sure it will help to write another chapter for us as well.