The week of March 7, I sat in the auditorium of the Chicago Waldorf School watching the 12th graders, many that I had known long before they could read, present their senior project.
The class of 2014 presented senior projects as varied as their personalities, taking us on journeys into the worlds of film making, building a guitar, chocolatiering, football franchises, water, photography, attraction, sound, Vikings, cosmetics, computer programming, and, of course, my teen’s presentation, titled “America Car Culture.” Many of our 12th graders had started talking about their senior projects in first grade when they first sat in the audience watching the seniors—the big kids—present their projects.
Senior projects are a big deal, a rite of passage for the seniors standing on the threshold of adulthood. The project helps them prepare for college studies and the professional world. They learn how to take an area of interest, explore it, research it, and present it. They learn about passion and how to rekindle that passion when the chocolate won’t set, and the Bug won’t start. Sitting in the audience watching each 12th grader take the stage and present his or her project, I’m sure I fell just a little short of being as proud of them as their parents. I was also acutely aware that dearly departed Joe was not sitting next to me, with his hand entwined in mine. He would have been shhhed by every mom in the auditorium as he woo-hooed proudly, loudly, and relentless for each presenter.
At 8:30 p.m. on March 7, I watched Cole walk on stage to present his senior project at roughly the same time that he been born 18 years earlier. He presented with accuracy, wit, and a feeling for his audience that went straight to my heart. Cole knew his stuff. The best part for me came at the end of the presentation, when our eyes met. After months of research, restoration, and rehearsals, he walked off the stage knowing he had nailed it. Yes. That knowing, that feeling of fulfillment, was what I had wished for Cole on his 18th birthday. I missed having Joe to share that moment with us.
After the presentations, standing at the back of the auditorium waiting for the refreshment line to shorten, I commented that I was really hungry. A man standing nearby overhead me, reached into his bag, and offered me a banana, and apologized that it was not a bigger banana. I accepted the banana and dissolved into exhausted laughter. My labor with Cole lasted 18 hours, and 10 hours into the process, I realized that I was very hungry. However, the nurse on duty would not let me have anything to eat because she was predicting that Cole would be delivered by a C-section. Surgery on an empty stomach is preferable. The midwife’s instructions to bring me a light snack were ignored. Hunger and labor are not a good combination. On one of his many walks around the hospital floor with me, Joe spotted a banana on a food cart and snagged it for me. The nurse, seeing me eating it, was ready to scold me, when Joe glared at her and loudly and defensively said, “It’s just a little banana!” My hero. Naturally, it’s just a little banana became a catch phrase between Joe and I.
That little banana was as good on March 7, 2014 as it was on March 7, 1996. WHOO HOO!
Odd Loves Company,
Updated: August 26, 2014