The alarm went off waking me up mid-morning. I shake my head, it’s early June and I finished classes why did I set my alarm? I grab my phone to shut it off when I realize someone is calling. It’s my mom and she is calling to tell me they reached Flying J and will be at my place shortly. It was also the call to let me know that I needed to clean!
I got up, showered and drank a bunch of water. School was out, so I went out. Unfortunately, I was unlucky and had some roommates come and go and lived by myself. The upside to that was I didn’t have much of a mess to clean up. Also, no matter how much I cleaned, my mom would find something to clean and never complained about it. After 45 minutes the place was clean and my family was here.
I ran out to hug them, and my mom was the first one out of the car coming to hug me. She couldn’t stop telling me how proud she was of me and how happy she was to see me graduate. I told her I loved her and helped carry in my family’s luggage.
After we settled down my family asked what I was going to wear to graduation. I hadn’t given it much thought, but just figured I would wear sandals, shorts and a t shirt. That was not acceptable. I need to look nice even though there was hardly anything visible when I wore my robe. I screwed for my high school graduation, and regretted the next 4 years. Not so much that I looked immature, but that I upset my mom who was so happy and excited for me during it. This graduation I was going to make sure it was a celebration for both of us, so I agreed to go shopping for something to wear.
Early June in Ohio was way too hot. Mid-High 90s and incredibly humid… bleh. My mom and I had devised a perfect outfit for under my robe. I had a white shirt with and orange tie, but we cut the sleeves and everything below my chest off. It was nice and cool, and I looked good! I gave my family hugs and told them I loved them as I headed to pre-graduation location. I was there early. The more I talked to people the more we all agreed it was too damn hot.
My phone started ringing so I answered. My mom had a surprise for me to help keep me cool. She told me to meet her and when I did she handed me a small cooler. The cooler had 2 semi-scarf things full of ice packs, too keep my bad heart cool. Perfect! I hid it under my robe (so no one would steal it!) and headed back to meeting place. As we walked over to the stadium, a couple of my friends were offering me money for the ice packs!
My family was one of the first people into the stadium. They told me the doors were crowded when they finally let people through the gates. My mom wasn’t able to sit in the sun because of her illness, so my family ran to the top of the northwest part of the stadium and found seats in the front row with shade. I received a text from my sister where they were sitting so I knew where to look.
I think I made it to midfield before I saw my mom up in the stadium. There must have been 40-50k people there that day, and I spotted my family immediately. When I raised my arm and waived at them, I saw them all get up and waive while jumping up and down. This wasn’t my sister’s graduation, I didn’t have 30 people show up for it, only my mom, dad and sister attended it. I still don’t know how I always found them, and everytime I waived my arm my mom was jumping and waiving at me. It was a sea of everyone wearing the same thing, but she always knew I was waiving at her.
I was also cool! Everyone was complaining about the heat. I remember thinking that it never got as hot as I thought it would. Mostly because I had a cool scarf around my neck the whole time. It did get hot enough for girls to lay out in swimsuits, which wasn’t bad!
When it was my turn to get my degree, I thought for sure my family wouldn’t know my location. We went under a tunnel, so it was easy for them to lose me with 15k other kids wearing black. I obtained my certificate, shook the guys hand and immediately opened to ensure I had the right one. There it was, my college degree. I felt incredible, and turned to my family who was still up in the C deck. They were standing there, and I didn’t know if they could see me, but I lifted up my degree and pointed directly at them. As I did, I saw them all jumping and cheering for me.
It’s hard to pick out a favorite memory of my mom when there were soooo many great ones. I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that feeling again. In a crowd of so many thousands, we knew the exact location of the other person. Even with so many Waldos around me, she knew the right one and I am grateful for that feeling. I will never forget that.