It’s been a year of lasts. The last first day of school. The last cross country meet. The last round of final exams. The last school lunch that needs to be packed. (A task I won’t miss, I must admit.) My youngest child has graduated from high school. He also turned eighteen this week, two big milestones right on top of each other. It’s a little bittersweet. I’m proud of him and obviously love him very much. I’m excited to see him go off to college, but I know I’ll shed a few tears when he does. It’s easier to send him off than it was his brother, who went four and a half hours away. This one will be attending my alma mater, Mercer University, and its just  an hour and a half down the road, an easy drive on the interstate.

I hope that he loves it there as much as I did. That’s he’ll enjoy walking across the tree filled campus in the fall as the leaves turn between old brick buildings. That he’ll cheer on the Bears with enthusiasm at football and basketball games. That he’ll find friends and make memories that he won’t forget. That he’ll read a few books that will always stay with him and learn something new in each class he takes. I like that I’ll be able to picture him taking English classes in Willingham Chapel  and picture him in the science center where most of his classes will be taken. That I can picture him walking across campus past the statue of Jesse Mercer at orientation and playing intermural sports on the grounds.

Hopefully the food is better than it was when I was there. I wonder if they still have steak night during exams?

I learned many things during the four years I spent at Mercer. That I have a gift for remembering works of art, but that I am lacking in artistic ability (especially when it comes to working with clay.) That you won’t always get along with every person you room with, that some of the professors are indeed crazy. That I am capable of failure and success. That faith is even more important during those years. That I could write and that I didn’t want to be a newspaper reporter, even though I was a Journalism major. That you will remember some people you meet there forever and that some you will lose contact with, even some you never thought you would lose.

College is the time for making the transition from high school to career and I hope that Payton uses that time well. I pray that he will avoid making bad decisions, that he he will stay on track with his grades and graduate, that he grows as a person during this time in his life. That he grows strong in character, that he enjoys this time and learns what he needs to succeed in graduate school and his chosen profession.

What did I take away from my four years at our shared college? A lot of memories, a diploma from a prestigious college, a love of writing and the short story that became my first novel. And a number of things that can’t, I’m sure, be put into words in this blog post.

So, Payton, in a few weeks  I’ll send you off to the place where I went to school. May it serve you well, and I hope and pray that you will make your dad and I,  your school and most of all, yourself proud during your tenure there.


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