Looking Back & Looking Ahead

Posted by Tom Camfield

When I was younger, I looked forward to the Rhody Festival with excitement and anticipation.  The rides were cheaper but then EVERYTHING was cheaper back then.  The Kid’s Parade had kids walking down the street with few, if any, parents tagging along. The grand parade was just that – Grand.  Floats, marching bands, drill teams, bag pipes, clowns, and the streets were crawling with people from all over the state.  Navy ships docked downtown and gave tours while teenage girls loved looking around for all those cute guys on shore leave. Seems like a million years ago.

I never thought it would happen to me but I’ve been making excuses for many of the past few years that I’m going to skip Rhody this time.  Just too tiring to navigate the traffic, carry your chair a few blocks, find a spot, hope the weather cooperates and you don’t have to use the port-a-potty.  I know there are plenty of folks around my age and older who don’t have an issue with their standing or walking endurance, but I don’t want to hear about how rugged they are.  Yes, I’m jealous. We’ll let it go at that.

I’m always aware of Rhody weekend, even if I’m an hour away.  One side of me wishes I lived in town so maybe I’d make more of an effort to go.  I miss being there but I’ve got to accept my limitations on what I can do and where I can go.  It irritates me no end that I have to think over just about any activity I want to engage in these days, but it is what it is.  I’m thankful I’m still driving but there too, my world has shrunk as I fight tooth and nail having to avoid merging on any freeway.

A few nights ago I did accept an invite from my daughter and son-in-law to attend an awards ceremony at the Port Angeles High School.  I figured it would be my last time to see that school close up since my grandchildren are graduating next month. Still can’t figure out how that happened so quickly.

I didn’t know how far I’d have to walk, but to be on the safe side, I took my cane along.  I don’t usually need a cane but it’s nice to depend on if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.  I was glad I went. Nice large auditorium with comfortable seats. One interesting feature was this big screen overhead that showed each student’s graduation photo as he/she were called on stage to have their scholarships announced.  They had been assigned to write down what the book title would be if they were writing about themselves, with an additional short sentence to why they picked that title.  It made for a great break in the routine and some of the titles were hilarious.  Typical teenage humor.

Their graduating class was well over double what mine was in 1961 and the money awarded for scholarships was enormous. About half a million locally, as I recall, and $5 million nationally. Competition is fierce in high school these days.  But they’ve got their lives ahead of them and I must admit I envy the start of their journey. My oldest grandchild graduated in Florida in 2007 in a class of 555 students. I missed that ceremony, and I’ll most likely miss my youngest grandson’s graduation in 2031. If I live that long, I’ll be 88 and you can bet I’ll be too tired to go, and I probably won’t know who he is anyway.



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