Some of you may know that I wrote columns about being a stay-at-home dad for the Indianapolis Star. The first column, which you can read here, was about my feelings the day my older daughter Liz started first grade. This column was written on the day my younger daughter Katy finished high school. It was never published, but I always liked it. It serves as a nice bookend to that first column, and I thought I’d share it with you (especially since I got nostalgic over the holidays). Keep in mind it was written two and a half years ago…
She didn’t hustle by me on her way out the door. To her credit, she stopped and gave me a hug when I said, “Well, here it is, your last day of school.” I needed that hug.
I wished her good luck on her Physics and Econ finals. She got in her sunburned, paint-peeling red Cavalier, backed out of the driveway, and drove away, waving at me as she did.
On this same porch about 15 years ago I put her older sister Liz on the school bus to first grade. And got misty-eyed.
I’m misty-eyed again, for an entirely different reason. Who could have seen this coming fifteen years ago? Who knew time would pass so quickly?
Liz left the house a half hour ago, on her way to her summer job at pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, but with suitcase packed because she and her boyfriend were leaving at noon to go to Peru to be at a friend’s wedding this weekend. Her boyfriend is one of the groomsmen.
Liz will start her final year at Ball State this fall to finish up her degree in primary education. She begins her student teaching in August. Next year at this time she’ll (hopefully) have a job. She is talking about moving away from Indiana. She thinks North Carolina would be a good location.
Katy will be at Purdue in the fall, studying at the Krannert School of Management. She’s contemplating international business. She speaks French reasonably well and has the kind of outgoing personality that would fit well in the business world.
Fifteen years ago I wondered how Mom had felt when she’d put me on the bus to first grade, if her thoughts were similar to mine, but since she had died the spring before, I couldn’t ask her. Today I want to ask my dad a similar question, how he felt when my youngest brother Brian graduated from high school, but I can’t do that either. Dad died last fall. I hope that I will be around to answer these kinds of questions if my kids have them.
I open the door and walk in the quiet house, placing my now-empty coffee mug on the kitchen counter. I sigh. And although I know Katy will be home after school this afternoon, and that she will be living with us this summer while she works as a lifeguard before she starts college, something has changed today.
She’s not my little girl anymore. Katy’s gone.