That’s all I can describe this past week as…a blur of emotions. On Saturday, I watched my eighteen year-old son walk across a stage and receive his high school diploma. Patrick left us in suspense right up until the very end. He struggled so much this year. I attribute that to many things, including new responsibilities, new freedoms, serious illnesses (mono, strep, bronchitis and multiple bacterial infections) and a tremendously difficult class load (All AP classes plus two band classes). My dad, Patrick’s grandfather, stepped in to help over the past two months, talking to Patrick daily about his homework, emailing teachers daily for updates, and checking the grades online daily. He found three Georgia Tech bio-engineering graduates (many thanks to Briana, Taylor and Andrea) to tutor Patrick in calculus, up to six hours a day for over a month. Without Dad’s help, I seriously doubt that Patrick could have vaulted this hurdle. Actually, I know it would have been impossible. So many other people contributed to the effort. At Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, Dr. Brett Jacobsen spear-headed the support for Patrick. Holly Chesser, his AP Literature teacher, rallied the teachers and kept us informed constantly. Mr. Lavender and Mr. Strother patiently responded to every email and inquiry. Ultimately though, Patrick had to soldier through all of the work. He had hoped to make Dean’s List this semester. I don’t care that he didn’t. I’m so proud of him for finishing this journey and enduring the challenges. It was a perfect morning, sunny with a cool breeze, little fluffy clouds everywhere. The school holds the ceremony outside on the football field, with open attendance.
After the graduation, my folks held a lovely party at their home to celebrate Patrick. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, etc. all gathered for sandwiches, chicken nuggets, desserts and drinks. Their home was under renovation until the NIGHT BEFORE the party. Five months of work to install an elevator in the house, repaint everything, create a new laundry area upstairs, build-out studio space and redecorate an office into a guest bedroom. Dad made sure that the workmen completed all the work by 7:30 on Friday. Amazing!
Saturday night, I hosted an after grad party for Patrick’s classmates. We were expecting 65 people. 108 showed up. To keep some control amidst the chaos, my cousin, Casey, stood outside to greet attendees and usher them out, while my dear friend, Dianne, stayed in the foyer to get everyone’s signature, parent name and cell phone number. I was very concerned about safety, so I mandated that all the kids take Uber or have a parent drop them off. I had emailed all of the kids’ parents to give them details about the party. I got lots of great feedback from parents about how appreciative they were for the safety considerations and informative posts and emails. I barely bought anything for the party except decorations–parents provided almost all the food! Burgers, hot dogs, steaks, a huge shrimp cocktail platter, 400 chicken nuggets with 10 sauces, mini bundt cakes, mini sandwiches, Subway sandwiches, cookies, tortilla chips, potato chips, artichoke dip, brownies, chicken wings. Wow! The kids had a fantastic time, enjoying our ping pong/billiard/air hockey table, the big screen TV with Wii (Guitar Hero got some action), and crazy party music. School alums got word about the party and visited (so great to see Josh, Dobbie and Bill!) The house is a little dirtier for the wear, but nothing horrible.
Wednesday the 20th, my cousin, Donnie, and his wife, Melody, welcomed their twins to the world. Curtis Tate Cox and McKayla Rose Cox are the family’s first babies in 18 years, since Patrick was born! Everyone is so excited about their arrival! I haven’t been to see them yet (I’ll wait until Melody feels up to company and they get settled at home). I’m also a little bit of a hospital-phobe…and baby-phobe…and newborn-phobe. Regardless of my foibles, we are all tickled silly at having new Coxes!
Thursday morning, I awoke to such sad news. Our beloved family dog, Hunter Brooks, had suffered a huge stroke and seizure, and was gently led to his final slumber by Dr. Whittle. It happened too quickly for Mom and Dad to gather us for a goodbye, but I rushed to the vet after for a last round of hugs and kisses. Hunter was the sweetest dog I have ever met, even sweeter than my own Biscuit and Skyler. He had a gentle nature and soft, brown, warm, almond-shaped eyes, with a mouth that always seemed upturned into a smile. He was also the only truly strawberry blonde dog I have ever seen, with freckles on his white muzzle and a caramel-color nose. His fur was super thick, wooly and insular, but still suprisingly light and fluffy. Mom and Dad adopted him from the Atlanta Humane Society a few months after Whiskey passed away, in February 2001. As a youngster, he was a terror, tearing up pieces of sod and eating the insulation out of the furnace. However, when he mellowed, he became so calm and loving. Mom, Dad, Dr. Whittle, and his vet technician, Hillary, took amazing care of Hunter in his golden years. He enjoyed regular grooming, laser treatments thrice-weekly to help his circulation and movement, the best medications for his arthritis and appetite, plus yummy treats and plush memory-foam dog beds. We always joke that our rescued pets go from rags to riches, but it really is true. Hunter gave us a wealth of unconditional love for 14 years, and we did everything we could to repay that kindness.
So, it has been a whirlwind lately. Monumental joys and some bittersweet loss. I suppose it makes you cherish the joy all the more, and recognize that it’s all whizzing past us so quickly.