It’s still rainy, cold and gray in Paris—-what kind of May is this? People write love songs and have dreams about spring in Paris, and none of them include long-johns and umbrellas!!! And either there is some kind of worldwide lousy weather thing happening, or I’m cursed, since I arrived from the same kind of unseasonable weather in New York, Los Angeles before that (pouring rain and freezing cold), and 3 weeks of miserable cold weather in San Francisco. And to top it off, I’m going to New York in 2 days, checked the weather, sure it would be balmy and warm with spring in full swing, and discovered that the weather in New York is more of the same. Yerghk!!! I hope it warms up and dries out somewhere that I am soon, since I’m heading off on my usual rounds to see the kids.
Our family is BUSY these days!!! I’m heading home to San Francisco for Mother’s Day (my favorite holiday EVER. I get presents and don’t have to add another year to my age!! good news!!), I’ll be stopping to visit two of my daughters in New York first, always a joy, then celebrating with the others in San Francisco, and then the ENTIRE family will be getting together for the graduation of my youngest daughter—-and it’s no mean feat to get all of us together these days, with jobs and busy lives in many cities. But we are all getting together for that!! A huge victory, and unless someone goes to graduate school (two have so far, one in business, and the other as a social worker), it may be our last graduation, after many, many many years of them, starting with kindergarten graduations, 8th grade, high school, college, and the two who earned Master’s degrees. And of course, I always cry. It will be strange not having a ‘child’ in school, and not living by school vacations anymore. I have even planned my writing schedule around their school vacations for all these years. So it looks like we’ll all be graduating to adult lives. It’s a bit of a shock after shepherding nine kids through school. Did you finish your homework? What do you MEAN you have a test tomorrow…..a science project…..an oral presentation on the hundred year war???? And’ forgot to tell me’ so you could go to the baseball game instead. My son Nick was one of the most creative with reasons why he ‘couldn’t’ do his homework, and once told me he had no homework assignment in about 6th grade because his teacher had died. Yeah, right. Feeling smug, and determined to catch him out on it, I called the school, and to my shock and horror, I discovered that his teacher really had died suddenly that day. No homework. Oops. But on the whole, they have been a hard working lot (and are now too in their jobs and careers), no one ever flunked out (though we’ve seen academic probation a few times. It happens), everyone managed to graduate, some with honors, and all the nagging, begging, pleading and watching paid off. The daughter who is graduating has done a fantastic job, with amazing grades and pure hard work, and I’m very proud of her. We all are!!! And it will be a joy to celebrate her!!! And I’m happy to say that she’s walking at graduation, although 2 of her sisters didn’t, because it went ‘out of fashion’ for a while (“No one does, Mom”). I felt cheated when they didn’t. I want to stand there crying and taking photographs through blurry eyes, with the camera upside down, while the graduates all snicker, giggle at bad jokes about the teachers (or us, the doting parents), and look intensely bored, until that sudden moment when it all becomes real to them, a dignified professor hands them a scrolled up piece of parchment, it all kicks in, in a single instant, and then they are throwing their caps in the air, screaming with glee and relief, hugging each other, and crying too. It seems to take forever while you’re getting there, for both parent and child, but it’s amazing how fast the time flies. One day you’re dropping them off at kindergarten while they look terrified (I cried then too), you blink, and they’re wearing their black robes and mortarboard hats with a tassel at graduation. I would gladly start the film all over again!!! And then for them comes the scary business of “holy shit!!! What do I do now???” It all comes together in the end, but that leap from school, whether high school or college, is a BIG one!!! (For parent as well as child. and that scary empty nest thing I’ve dreaded for all these years comes soon thereafter).
And after we’ve celebrated the graduation properly (with a big party for her and her friends), we have a family wedding to look forward to this summer, the fourth among the nine kids to marry, and the first among the younger kids. And in today’s world, where people seem to marry less and less in the young generation, and wait longer and longer to do so (very few among independent young career-oriented people seem to marry much before 35 these days, or considerably later, while they establish their careers. and they have kids later and later too, if they do so at all)—-it seems remarkable now when young people do marry. I know so many who don’t. I guess my generation scared them off, with divorces and marriages that failed. But in spite of whatever failings in the institution (of marriage), or in us, some are still brave enough to do it, and to stand up and make a lifetime commitment to each other. I admire their courage and dedication to each other, and I still believe in traditional values, although I’m a lot more open minded than I used to be (and more cowardly about marriage). But we will all be celebrating the family wedding this summer, and trying to squeeze in our annual family vacation together before that. It’s going to be a busy summer. I just finished my main writing projects, so I can enjoy the family, spend time with my kids, and work on the wedding. And I’ll be going back to work on new books in September. (Although I always sneak in a little work here and there during the summer, but not at my intense winter pace, where I work for months without taking a day off).
So that’s what we’re up to this summer. It will be a busy one for us!!! And I hope a good one for you too, with memorable moments, and some quiet relaxing times!!! I’ll keep you posted on all of it.