While I was watching Gwen’s graduation ceremony last night, I was thinking and feeling so many different things. My mind and my emotions were in a terminal.
I was thinking about the day Gwen was born. She was 3 months premature and only weighed 2 pounds 2 ounces. She spent the first three months of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Her tiny body was covered in tubes, IV’s, and even a respirator.
In spite of all that, Gwen thrived. That’s when I knew Gwen has the heart of a fighter.
I thought about her favorite book as a child, “A Fish Out of Water.” Gwen would laugh every time I read the story to her and never seemed to get tired of it. We must have read that book a thousand times.
I thought about her favorite cartoon, “The Legend of Grimace Island.” She would watch the cartoon and immediately after it was finished, she wanted to rewind the tape and watch it all over again.
I tried to sneak in other cartoons, but Gwen was not having it. She only wanted to watch that one cartoon and made sure everyone knew it. She stood her ground on that issue. After all, she is a Thaler and we are one stubborn bunch.
Memories of Gwen riding a bicycle with training wheels and eventually learning how to ride without those training wheels flashed in my mind.
As a small child, Gwen was reluctant to try new foods. I helped her overcome that reluctance by giving each new food a creative name. Curley fries became slinky fries and chow mein became Chinese spaghetti.
Flash forward several years and that little girl is all grown up now. She has a driver’s license and a high school diploma. She is not a child anymore. She is now entering the adult world.
I am proud of Gwen for her accomplishment. I am excited to see what she will do next with her life and how she will begin to impact the world around her.
I am apprehensive about her entering college and getting a job. She will have to learn to fend for herself in this world. I will not be able to protect her in the same way and that scares me.
I am also sad, because that little girl is only a memory. I miss those years of innocence, playfulness, and the wonder in her eyes as she discovered the world around her.
Last night, so many memories and feelings ran through my mind. I am sure I experienced every emotion known to man all in one hour.