WOSTER: Reflection of life, love and granddaughters
My granddaughter Lara has been in chorus all through high school, but never, not once, has she tried to be front and center on stage at any concert Nancy and I have attended.
The other evening we made the road trip for the last vocal concert of this granddaughter's high-school career. Tomorrow, she will be among the Brookings High School Class of 2014. Not so long after that, she'll be college bound. So, this recent pop concert was another in a string of those "lasts'' for this senior, for her classmates and for all of their parents, grandparents, other relatives and friends. We wouldn't have missed it for anything.
I wasn't surprised when the program began and we had to search through a mass of young men and women on the stage for a glimpse of our senior. There she was, or at least a shadow of her. In the back row, as usual.
I'm used to going to these things and seeing every student in the chorus except my granddaughter. I don't expect to see much of her, just a flash or a shadow. Well, during one moment in this concert, the mass of students moved just so. As if Moses had parted the Red Sea, a lane opened all the way to the back of the stage. There, in that open space almost as if in the spotlight, was Lara. I was thrilled. Then the crowd flowed the other way and she was gone.
I sat quietly for a moment, considering the metaphor of the young women I'd know for 18 years suddenly disappearing, the way she will in the fall. I didn't shed any tears. I knew that, while I couldn't see her, she was still on the stage. I understood that when she goes to college, she won't really be gone. I just won't be able to see her for a while. I sat quietly, rather proud of myself for handling the metaphor so well.
Then, during a break between choruses, a young women I didn't even know walked onto the stage and began to sing Disney's "Once Upon a Dream,'' and I cried.
I used to sing that song to my granddaughter when she was a little girl. I've known her since the day after she was born. For a combination of reasons, she spent quite a bit of time with us the first couple of months of her life. She was a wonderful infant, mostly. For a few hours late every evening, though, she cried. Her mom and grandma handled her most of the day. I stay up late, so my turn came during the colicky time. After the house had quieted (except for a crying baby), I walked and rocked and cuddled that precious girl. I sang softly -- lullabies, Beatles songs, Disney tunes and most of the numbers from "Wizard of Oz.'' It was an unusual kind of quality time, but it was ours, and I still think about it sometimes.
Lara grew up on Wizard of Oz in her grandparents' home. She watched it at least once every trip to Pierre. I learned the guitar chords to "Over the Rainbow'' for her. When I played and sang, it wasn't Judy Garland, but it was heartfelt. Once during a campfire sing-along at Palisades, as I sang and played "Rainbow,'' my granddaughter scooted next to me and pushed her way under the arm of my chording hand to snuggle against me until the last chord faded away. It was a moment for her. It will always be a memory for me.
That child grew into an intelligent, reflective, sensitive and curious young woman. She has become her own person, decidedly so, and she has her own thoughts. Of course she does. Children do, worrisome as that can be for parents and grandparents. The "Prophet'' said of children, "You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts.''
I'm content to let my granddaughter have her own thoughts, as long as I can give her my love. I hope she takes it with her wherever she goes from here.