Sunday, September 8, 2019

2019.09.08 New Beginnings With Digital Rotogravure

Today ( who knew?) is National Grandparents Day in America. I write to honor the role of grandparenting. Whether it is daily or yearly, it matters enormously to the old and to the young, linking up a family by generations, memory—and heart.  It is also the end of summer and back-to-school time, a time to cheer and feel proud, and a time to weep with longing under the sharp knife of time's inevitable passage.

For many children the first day of school each year is a time of excitement and anticipation, perhaps a little anxiety. Parents, especially single parents or grandparents, try hard to hype it up, while hiding their own relief at having some time off from 24/7 on-call duty.

Sometimes there’s a shopping outing to buy a new first-day-of-school outfit and hit the local pharmacy for school supplies, some of which are extraneous these days with so much school work done on computers. Everything is laid out in readiness the night before. Backpacks, stuffed to distortion, not including homework and textbooks, although it might include your favorite mitt or good luck charm tucked in, stand all on their own and wait to be placed and strapped onto young backs. In some cases, the backpack is bigger than the child whose small legs stick out from beneath the load.

Ah, school is a serious thing indeed. Not only do you get educated in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, you get all their enhancements, nuances, and advancements squeezed into your brain over at least 12 years, and more if you so choose. The little old schoolhouse never dies, it only grows, just like the students who get educated to grow in mind, body, and spirit.
Now I am aware that I write all this as a privileged, white, well-educated woman in her 80s who, way back when, discovered in school a place of achievement, an endeavor she could master, a lifetime project in which she could excel over a long time, and oh my, I loved those grades. For a time I allowed achievement to define me as a person,  as if it enriched my very soul, as if it were my god. Thanks be to a God-school called seminary, the Bible in which many stories reflected my own experience (ya think David was an overachiever who learned humility the hard way?), prayer, spiritual direction, vocational maturity, writing, good friends and family, my own children, and a real and lasting love—none of which I achieved, all of which I gratefully received through the grace of a God who loved me no matter what —I  am able now to celebrate the joys of school through the excitement of my grandchildren, minus two who have finished school for a while. Here are some back-to-school photos I proudly share.

Dylan Brakeman, entering Kindergarten
Phoebe Brakeman, entering 6th grade
Eliza Brakeman, entering 8th grade
Will Brakeman, entering his junior year in high school—so happy to pose once again for his back-to-school photo
Lucia Simeone, entering 10th grade
Brianjohnson Fontaine, entering 8th grade
Thomas Simeone, entering 7th grade
Harrison Simeone, entering  4th grade

 Ali Simeone, entering junior at Lehigh University, with Daniel Epstein

Luke Simeone, entering freshman year at Drexel University
 Gillian Brakeman Colbath, graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, anticipating graduate school to study for an MSW.
Isabella Brakeman Colbath, graduate of City Year, Boston

And because it is summer’s end, I can’t resist including pictures of my beloved’s 78th birthday celebration in Nantucket with his sons, Simeones all (l. to r.) Mark and Matthew, their wives, Rosemarie and Annemarie, and moi (shortest), not to mention the joy of Grampy Sim eating a huge ice cream sundae all by himself.