He watched her as she approached the stage. He was so proud of her, his daughter, his first born. Today was her birthday, she was fourteen years old and tonight she was graduating from the eight grade. She was growing up so fast. The cliche, ‘it seems like only yesterday’, fit the way he was feeling tonight.
She was fourth in the procession, girls in white caps and gowns and the boys in green. Their faces were solemn as they marched, though some were having trouble holding that expression as they spotted their families sitting in the audience.
As the program continued, he watched her and thought of how much she looked like her mother.
The graduation ceremony was held outside on the lawn. Folding chairs were set up in rows for family and friends. Flash bulbs were flashing constantly as the awards were given to the students for outstanding and special activities during the years. Small children, who couldn’t be expected to sit quietly, were running and playing with each other on the perimeters, all dressed in their Sunday best.
The Color Guard was announced and the audience stood as they paraded up the aisle proudly supporting the colors of the red, white and blue. When they reached the front, the National Anthem was sung by a student named Kari. Her voice was beautiful; full, strong and she sang with confidence. The Pledge of Allegiance was then recited by everyone, proudly and loud, with no hesitation at the point of ‘under God’.
When at last her name was called, he watched her stand and walk with her head held high to receive her diploma. He noticed her nervousness in the tightening of the muscles. He saw it, but to others she appeared calm. She was wearing her first pair of heels and she really hadn’t practiced walking in them, but she seemed fine. He held his breath as she slightly wobbled, trying to get through the closely packed row of seated youngsters, with no room to move their legs and feet. They should have left more room, he thought, concerned, as he watched her.
Suddenly it was over. The girls were crying, the boys were laughing, but they were each aware their childhood was ending. In four years they would all be on their own, either going off to college, or entering the working world. Not wanting to think on that just yet, he stood as she walked toward him and they smiled, then grinned, then laughed aloud.
He was so proud of her.