One's graduation party was a success, due in no small part to the heroic efforts of Erin and the Captain. M.I.L and F.I.L were pressed into shopping service, which ran the gamut from food to tacky decorations for the all-season tree, and flowers for my planters.
I had managed to get a little done before the surgery, but we were working up until the first guests arrived. At one point on Friday, while Erin and M.I.L. were at Costco, my house contained the plumbers, the window cleaners, and the electrician. We ended up with two working toilets, although I forgot to buy a seat for one of them, so that bathroom was reserved for "boys only." I always said we'd be better served just installing urinals, so I got my wish.
One had a personal aide throughout his high school career, a lovely soft-spoken woman named Toni, who accompanied him during his day to help if necessary. Each year, at our annual review, she would tell us how he was maturing, and all the wonderful progress he was making in school. In actuality, she spent more waking hours with him in a day than we did. But we weren't jealous, just relieved, knowing that a kind-hearted soul was guiding him in our stead.
We invited Toni and her husband, Glen, to the party, and One waited up at the top of the driveway for them to arrive. Then he gathered his brothers one by one to introduce them to her, so she could place faces to the names she'd heard all these years. Four gave her a hug, because he's snugly like that.
Toni and Glen stayed for the whole party, and One visited with them almost the whole time. It was very sweet to see him so attentive, interested in gathering together the important people in his life. As One opened his gifts, I looked around the room at all the people who have influenced my life: my mother and step-father, my aunt and cousins, my siblings, the Captain and his family. Although our visits are sporadic, the ties that bind us defy time and distance. Ours is a shared history, generations of light and dark moments, triumphs and failures, more joy than tears.
After dessert, the next generation of the family ran outside to catch fireflies. The sound of their laughter and excited calls to one another carried across the warm breeze. It intermingled with the conversations inside the house, braiding new memories with the old. Someday they will sit together, and weave this night into their own chapter of our history.