Dreams Not Deferred

5

May 21, 2020-

After visiting the newly reopened American Legion Post 6 and stopping by Bill’s Pizza for a couple of slices, which I then enjoyed at a park bench, in Courthouse Square, I headed along North Cortez Street, and made note of more places re-opening, this coming weekend.

It was another of life’s sublime pleasures, to see a fairly good cross section of our area’s graduating high school seniors, lining up in their vehicles-sedans, trucks, SUVs and Jeeps, preparing for a motorcade through downtown, after which they would go to Pioneer Park, on the north side, for a group celebration. I stayed around and cheered all of the grads, as they drove by my perch on the outside of a long-defunct Chinese restaurant.

This group has been challenged to complete their course of study, in ways not seen since World War II. People of my parents’ generation may well identify, yet at least they got to finish school in their buildings. This spring semester, at all schools, has been an intense swirl of innovation-much of it accomplished on the spur of the moment. The best of it has relied on inquiry and discussion, followed by students coming up with solid new ways to accomplish things that had relied on formula, for far too long.

I had little to do with the achievements of this class of seniors, but I did cheer one young lady, a special needs person, who learned the value of setting personal boundaries and safeguarding herself, without, thankfully, having to undergo trauma. She can now take her place among those pursuing, and realizing, their dreams-hers being to work as a cosmetologist.

May each of these remarkable souls make their mark, not waylaid by any future misfortune-either greater or lesser than the one that interrupted, but did not dismantle, their last year of high school.

The Road to 65, Mile 167: Safe/Unsafe

5

May 14, 2015, Chino Valley- I spent today supervising graduating high school seniors, who chose not to join their Class Trip to Orange County, but were in school to do- nothing.  Their tests finished, their year’s work accomplished, the kids sat and quietly either socialized or played cards, while I read more about building a natural diet, in a largely ersatz economy.  There was to be a semi-instructional video shown, but it was not at the school.  The saving grace was that their parents could rest assured that they were in a safe environment.

Anyone who has raised teenagers knows the feeling, that these people who look like adults and, in the best of circumstances, carry themselves as adults, are still our babies.  I was as likely to fret over our son when he was in high school, or for that matter, when he was in college, as I was when he was younger.

Imagine then, the horror felt by the mother of a 16-year-old boy, an honour student, a self-starter who took the initiative both around home and at his part-time job, when he was killed-at a bus stop- by a wayward pickup truck trailer.  The facts are still being gathered, but there was a collision between the truck that was hauling the trailer and another vehicle.  One was turning left and the other was going straight.  It’s still not known for certain, who had the right of way.

Some things ARE certain, though: The student had the right to feel safe at his bus stop.  His mother, who is visually-impaired, had the right to reasonably expect that her son would come home after school, and help her around the house, as he had done for several years.  His sister, and cousins, had the right to expect, all other things being equal, that he would continue to make them proud, with his consistent achievements.

We never know when the “bell will toll”.  Many of us have heard this, week in and week out- at our places of worship, at  school and at the neighbourhood gathering spot.  I’ve had my own brushes with death- and so far, so good.  Having seen my youngest brother, then my wife, go through gradual declines just underscored my understanding of this concept.

I am not sure I will ever really comprehend what almost seems a capricious taking of life, however.  The life of a child, or of a teen, seems almost sacrosanct- and yet…..