Saturday, May 23, 2009

Life, Round 3: Remembrance of Things Past

My granddaughter had her end-of-year choir programs last week. I didn't get to go, but my daughter very kindly posted pictures. We seldom post pictures of the grandchildren on the web, but I think this one is safe. She's 5th from the right on the very back row. They're wearing construction hats and singing "He's Still Working on Me." (My first thought was "Y.M.C.A.")



I do not yet have a picture of yesterday's school awards program with my grandson. I did attend that one, since it was local. Not only was it local, but I was sitting in the same seats, looking at the same stage that I have looked at for most of my life. The auditorium was built in 1951 or 52, and it has been the site of every large community gathering since then. Every musical program, every fashion show, every traveling magician, every school assembly, and at least one funeral was held there until 1966, when the new high school got its own auditorium. Since then, smaller events, up to 400 or so, tend to be at the high school, but the old auditorium is still the site of everything younger or bigger.

There's something very reflective about watching your grandchild standing on the front of the stage looking out at the same seats that you looked at yourself for every school program, both high school and junior high graduations, two years of high school plays, and most other community events. Walking home from some community event in that auditorium down a dark, tree-sheltered sidewalk to our nearby home is a cherished, slightly scary memory of childhood. I could always sympathize with Scout Finch in that ham costume. I even remember being snatched as a preschooler from the audience to backstage in the days before the Heimlich maneuver when I had a piece of hard candy lodged in my airway. A couple of men in the play grabbed me and held me upside down and shook me and pounded me until it came out.


I also noticed that yesterday I had time to reflect. The truth is that reflection comes more easily to grandmothers. Both of our children played every band concert, crossed the stage for every elementary award, and graduated from high school and junior high on this same stage, but moms are much too nervous to feel reflective. Yesterday, though, it did not take much effort to populate the stage in my mind with my children's five-year-old faces and those of some of their friends.

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