Today, Eldest graduates from college. Like all major life events, this gives me pause to remember. I remember the morning my wife’s water broke. It was July 1st and she wasn’t due until August 4th. It was four weeks before the due date and we were both concerned.
It shouldn’t have surprised me that my wife went into labor early. She is early to everything, she comes from a long line of women who are early to everything.
I called the doctor’s office, which was closed, and was given the number for the on-call answering service. I called the number and the man on the other side asked his scripted questions. “What is her due date? How far apart are her contractions?” and so on.
When I told him her contractions were many minutes apart, he asked if this was our first child. It was. He told me to call back when the contractions were two minutes apart.
I wanted to reach through the phone, grab him by the neck, and shake him, but I did not.
Instead, I took a deep breath and said, “Let me start again; my wife is due August 4th.” And then I stopped. There was a long silence on the line and suddenly the faceless voice on the line said, “Ooohhh. She is four weeks early!” I could almost hear the panic in his voice as he told me he would page the on call doctor immediately, and if I didn’t hear from the doctor in twenty minutes, I should call back.
Eldest was born the next day. She was healthy and happy. At least I think she was happy. She didn’t say much those first few weeks and months, so I cannot be absolutely sure. In fact, she didn’t say much the first few years. Beloved and I would often have to encourage her to use her words, which she adamantly refused to do.
For most of her time in grade school, middle school, and high school, Eldest wanted to be an engineer. She took all the math and science classes she could. She took classes on electricity and computer aided drawing. And we still had to remind her to use her words.
Today, three years after graduating from high school, Eldest graduates from college. Like her entrance into the world, and in the tradition of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, who all believe that being on time is late, she is graduating early.
Today, Eldest graduates with a degree, not in math or science, but English. Apparently, all those years of admonishing her to use her words stuck with her and now she writes—and wow, does she write! (Check her blog out at kaleigh.distaffen.com)
So, Eldest, congratulations on finishing your baccalaureate degree. I am in awe of your quiet strength, your tender wit, and your firmly caring heart. I am proud of you and can’t wait to see what this new chapter in your life brings.