Big Shoes to Fill

Last week, I dropped my oldest son off at college.  It was an emotional moment filled with pride, excitement, fear, and anxiety.  I watched a little boy walk away in a man’s shoes, and it was then that I realized how big those shoes truly are.

You see, not only is he entering his freshman year, but he is on the inaugural football team for his school.  This is a rare opportunity. It is huge.  I have been reflecting on this, ruminating over what this means, for the past week as it turned from a plan to reality.  I am not sure he realizes, though, the role he is playing in this and the impact he can make.

So, my son, this letter is to you.  You are making history this year. You and your forty-four teammates are the foundation of the football team at your school.  You get to set the tone. Do you understand what this means? It means that you are responsible for creating the groundwork for a long-standing program.  It reminds me of the parable of the two men building houses.  The foolish man built his on the sand, and the wise man built his on a rock.  Which will you choose in building your program?  Sand washes away, but the rock will stand forever.  This is your legacy you will leave behind.  What rocks will you use for your foundation?  I’d like to recommend some to you as you move forward.

Kindness.  Today, that is a scarce commodity. This team has the ability to create kindness, an environment free of hazing and humiliating freshmen as they enter the program.  You are coming in new, but so is everyone else. There is no big man on campus. There is no belittling the new guys. You are all in the same boat, and if you row together, you will go further, faster.  Keep handing the oars to the new players each year, and show them the ropes.  Don’t make them pay their dues or find their way; guide them.  You may not always like everyone you encounter, but you always need to show kindness. Set the stage for the future.

Respect.  This goes hand in hand with kindness.  To respect others, you must first respect yourself. Respect yourself by choosing to do the right thing.  Don’t cut corners.  Hold yourself to the highest standard.  In respecting others, appreciate diversity and the differences in your teammates.  Embrace their unique qualities.  Learn from one another.  Books are good, classes are important, but the best lessons in life tend to come from the experiences you have and from the people you meet along the way.

Character. I have told you for your entire life to never compromise your integrity.  Character and integrity define you, and what you do now will stay with you throughout your life.  It is no different on this team. You will define who you are by what you do and by what you offer to this program.  You are loyal and honest, and your heart is so generous. You have always pulled for the underdog. Your mantra for years has been the famous John Wooden quote,“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Don’t ever change.

Support.  These young men are your brothers.  You will grow so much with them over the next five years, and you will create lifelong friendships.  You need to have one another’s back, both on and off of the field. You need to be able to trust one another, to count on one another, to be there for one another.  Life is a team sport, and you need to not only surround yourself with great teammates, but you need to be a great teammate.  It can be tough.  You will go through ups and downs together, but you will never regret what you put into this relationship.

Commitment.  You committed to a huge responsibility.  The day you signed to be part of this team, you signed to create this team. You signed to be an integral part of this.  You signed to work with the coaches to build an exceptional program.  You are out there representing not only yourself, but your family, your team, your community, your coaches, and your school.  You have a lot of responsibility being handed to you; live up to the expectations.

Leadership. It’s a unique situation to be in, to not have anyone ahead of you to guide you or to look up to. You are the class of leaders.  You are the program. You will determine the initial success of this.  It’s a heavy burden to bear, and you will have your challenges.  Make wise choices, and guide those around you to do the same.  Together, you will lead this team to great places.

I admit that I am a bit envious of your opportunity.  So few will ever have this.  You are one of forty-five young men this year to be chosen for this mission.  I know that you are caught up in the excitement: the new dorm, the new friends, the classes, the campus.  I only hope you step back, take a deep breath, and take in how huge this really is.  Make the most of it, because this is a once in a lifetime moment. Put on those shoes, and fill them with all that you have.21015775_10211657078996936_5711697396278536475_o (1)


An Open Letter to My Daughters

My Loves, please know that I would never choose to take you to the march this weekend.  I am sparing you exposure to the message I feel is counterintuitive to how your father and I have raised you.   We have raised you to be strong and independent.  I have taught you to fight against the wrongs and defend others.  You are more than capable of taking a stand for justice.  On the flip side, I have instilled in you compassion for others, the ability to be strong without being hard, a fighter with a soft side, a woman of character and integrity.

In this life, you must first respect yourself before expecting anyone else to respect you.  This is very powerful.  I see these women marching for the right to be sexually free, carrying signs that state, “My body, my right to be a slut.”  How sad.  There is no being sexually free.  It’s an oxymoron.  Others should not have full access to your body.  Something that special, that precious, should have to be earned.  When you fight for the right to be a “slut”, you are locking yourself in your own prison, and with each partner who uses and abuses you, your self-worth drops and you will feel less and less valued. You are more than a sexual being, yet while these protesters proclaim that, they are donning vagina hats that scream they are nothing more than a vagina. I don’t want you to think that this is acceptable.  You are the whole package, and you need to recognize that.  Also, abortion is not birth control.  If you do not want to have a baby, there are plenty of options out there, including not having sex.  Why would anyone ever want to have sex with a man with whom they would not want to have a child?  Why would you be willing to give your body to someone not valuable enough to spend your life with? If he is not willing to marry you and make a commitment, why are you willing to give yourself to him?  Value yourself more than that.  I don’t want my grandchildren sucked into a sink.  Actions have consequences, and you need to take responsibility for the choices you make in this life.  All choices. Don’t be the victim. Don’t blame others. Own what you do, or better yet, simply make the right choices in the first place.

Secondly, men are not holding you back, keeping you from being your best.  You will have negative encounters with men just as you will with women.  It’s life.  It does not mean an entire segment of the population is evil or against you. Understand that.  A man holding the door for you is not implying in any way that you are incapable; rather, he is respecting you and showing you that you deserve to have that door held for you. You should be questioning the character of a man who doesn’t treat you well or open doors or pick up the check on a first date.  Chivalry is not dead; it’s simply a lost art. Find it.  You deserve to be treated well.  And you need to treat men well.  Life is full of relationships, and it takes effort by all involved to be successful.

On that note, understand that there are so many different opinions in this world, and while you don’t need to agree with someone else, you need to be respectful, even when others are not.  Name-calling and insulting are unacceptable.  Do not engage or lower yourself to being nasty.  You win some, you lose some.  And just because one may not agree with something, that does not make the person with an opposing view a racist or a bigot or a hater.  For eight years, I had to live with a leader I did not choose. I did not agree with his politics, yet to say that would cause me to be labeled all kinds of inaccurate names.  Now that the tide has turned, I am still attacked and called those names.  The intolerance and hatred is unbelievable.  I have found out who my friends truly are through this, which brings me to another point…be loyal, but not to a fault.  Know when to exit a relationship.  Recognize when it has run its course, and leave with grace and dignity.  No one should ever take advantage of you or mistreat you, and if it happens more than once, that is on you.  You allowed it. You are better than that.

You will fail in life.  Failure isn’t final, though, so get up, brush yourself off, and move on. Learn from your mistakes.  Take chances.  Move forward.  Never be afraid to admit your errors or to ask for help.  I am always here for you. I am your biggest cheerleader, and if you haven’t noticed that yet, you haven’t been paying attention.

Be proud that you are a woman, but never let that overshadow the fact that you are a decent, kind, loving, loyal person.  You deserve nothing more than anyone else simply because of your gender.  You also deserve nothing less.  Fight the good fight, and always be the incredible, smart, talented lady you are today.  I love you, and I my wish for you is nothing short of a happy and fulfilled life.


Funeral for a Friend

985a8414-2We all have that one friend, the one who brings the group together.  The friend who is the glue, the one that without, we wouldn’t be a group.  We come from all different backgrounds, yet this friend made us so comfortable, it was as if we had known one another forever.  When it all began, it was made clear that it was a terminal relationship. That friend was only going to be around for four years, and we knew it, but we all rallied in our denial and pretended that the end wouldn’t come.  And even after knowing for all of that time, the end hit us so hard, so fast, and just like that, it was over.  We said the final “good-bye” last week; farewell to Football.

Four years ago, we all came together, driving our kids to practice every day and then picking up the smelliest of all creatures afterward.  Our laundry increased exponentially, as did our food bills. We bonded over the life we had all taken on when our sons became football players because when your son joins the team, the parents join their own team. It becomes a lifestyle rather than simply an event.  We sat in the stands together, cheering on those boys through sun, rain, sleet, and snow.  Postal workers have nothing on a football mom.  We spent so much time together from tailgates to banquets to meeting at local establishments after the games. We shared our frustrations, our smiles, our tears.  We watched these boys become young men, eventually driving themselves to practices and games, needing us a little less with each season.  Still, we clung to each moment we did have, wanting it to last forever.

They were The Boys of Fall.  Those gangly little freshmen walked into that locker room that first day, scared of the unknown but excited to be a part of this great club.  Many of them did not know one another, but they became real close real quickly.  That first summer consisted of hours upon hours together on the field, and it didn’t stop there.  You’d think they would have wanted a break from one another, but that wasn’t at all the case.  Every weekend, it was pizza and poker in the basement.  Someone once asked me if it bothered me to buy pizza every single week, and I replied that no, someday I would miss it. I already do.  They went to haunted houses and apple orchards.  They went out to eat after the games.  This Band of Brothers grew.  They were like brothers, too. They fought like brothers, grew frustrated with one another like brothers, but they always had one another’s back like brothers.  They loved like brothers.  They formed bonds that will continue through life all because of that common friend, Football.

Just like that, senior year arrived.  As the season rolled by, we avoided the inevitable.  Senior night was postponed due to weather, and it was actually a bit of a relief. We weren’t ready that night. And then we realized that we never really were going to be ready. The day came, we lined up with our young man, carnation in hand, and strolled out on the field arm in arm.  We all smiled ear to ear, while inside we ached.  With a deep breath, we continued off the field and prepared to watch the game.  At least it wasn’t the last game.  We had one more week.

Then the final game day arrived. The first three quarters rolled by without much thought, but when the clock began ticking off the seconds of that final quarter, we watched the life slip away from our dear friend, the friend who brought us all together four years ago.  There was nothing anyone could do to extend the life; it was over.  The clock buzzer sounded, like a monitor signaling the ceasing of a heartbeat, and the tears began.  Parents and players alike choked back the sobs, and we forced painful smiles at one another as we exited the stadium. Our friend had died.

Looking back, though, we are grateful for what we did have in those four years.  We formed friendships we probably would not have otherwise made.  We grew to know and love so many young men and their families.  We had an opportunity to be a part of this sport, this lifestyle.  We watched our boys learn so much more than fundamentals. They learned about character, integrity, grit, perseverance, and teamwork.  They learned to never give up, to fight through adversity, and to push beyond limits they never knew they had. For that, we are so proud.

As with any funeral, it is a time of reflection. We remember the good times and everything that made that relationship great.  We smile through the tears at the wonderful memories, and we know that we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Goodbye, Football.  Thanks for everything.

Farewell, Childhood Fun

It saddens me to see the dissolution of American tradition in our schools today.  Another elementary has done away with the many-decades-old Halloween parade and party.  The powers that be claim this is in the name of inclusion, to accommodate the diverse population, and to focus on education.

First of all, I believe inclusion means to INCLUDE, share, and participate in events together in order to grow and become well-rounded.  Today, though, we keep separating groups and segregating society, and that certainly is not embracing diversity.

Some will point out that the event will still happen, that they are offering a one-hour block of time in the evening to trick or treat through the hallways of the school.  That is not demonstrating inclusion as doing this eliminates the opportunity for a good number of kids for many reasons, from working parents not getting home in time to after school athletics, lessons, and events.  By keeping it in school during the day, everyone has an equal opportunity to attend and participate with their friends.  That is how it should be.

And second, here we go; the real issue I have with this.  Education.  Get over yourself if you feel that a half day of school truly “educates” so well and is so needed that you feel compelled to abandon a holiday party that occurs once a year.  I’m all about educating these kids, but I also recognize that education does not strictly come from a book, lecture, and some worksheets.  This is what I know for certain:

I don’t remember the day I learned how to multiply by 8. I don’t recall the day I learned how to spell “coyote” or the day I figured out the formula for table salt.  I don’t remember what chapters I read in third grade or what we did for science in fifth grade.  This is what I do remember.  I remember each Halloween, my costume, and some of the games we played.  I remember other specific moments very vividly.  I remember working in the elementary kitchen at lunch time, helping cook, clean, and deliver the meals, back before it was too dangerous and doing so took away from “learning” – never mind that I was gaining life skills in that kitchen from Mrs. Munn.  I remember the contest in sixth grade for class shirt design and naming the class mascot.  I remember the morning I found a baby bird, newly hatched, on the side of the road on the way to school with friends. We wrapped it up and carried it to the principal in the hopes that he could save it.  I remember field day each year, and how we would strive to beat the school records and eat popsicles afterward.  That was back when ribbons were handed out for first, second, and third place, not just to everyone for showing up.  We actually had goals and competed.  I remember tetherball competitions on the playground and the time the bees built a nest in the pole.  That was not a fun day.  I remember my friends and our playground activities. I remember Girl Scouts through the school, and our trip to Greenfield Village.  Even today, when I visit, I sit for a moment and stare at the bridge and remember the photo taken there with a group of my friends.  One died a few years later, and I can’t look at that bridge and not think of her. I even remember some of the skits we saw, over 30 years ago, because they were powerful. I recall other field trips and specific details from each.  We went to a nature center in sixth grade with the other sixth grade classes in the district. I remember the nature paths and the edible plants we found on our three day excursion.   I remember the year my neighbor struggled with playing “Good King Wenceslas” on her violin at the school Christmas program (yes, back when we actually had that).  She was frustrated and started over several times, but both parents and students alike smiled warmly and clapped at the end as if it had been the best performance ever. In that moment, I learned tenacity, grit, and compassion.  You can’t teach that from a book. I remember trying out for athletic teams and learning what it took to be a team player as well as a leader. I remember school plays, from trying out to memorizing lines to performing.  It took hard work and guts to get out on that stage.  Again, more life lessons.  There are a great number of lessons I have listed in my short list of my experiences, and not one involved a lesson plan, a book, or a day of curriculum.

We have moved so far away from the school days I recall.  I realize my kids won’t have all of the same experiences, but I sure do regret they won’t even have a shot at some of the best memories. I regret that it is in the name of education. That is a cop-out.  So much learning happens outside of the classroom, and we no longer value the importance of these experiences. That is evident as day after day, we eliminate the events and opportunities.

Perhaps this will change. People are finally standing up to these decisions and protesting rather than simply accepting it. People are making it clear that this is not what we, as parents, desire.  I only hope our voices are loud enough.

It’s Time to Unify to Defeat the True Enemy

I admit it, ISIS scares the heck out of me.  This group of ruthless terrorists has been inciting hatred and fear worldwide.  It’s divide and conquer, and that, frankly, is what scares me most.  By creating this façade of Muslim versus the world, I am finding that in America, anyway, we have become a society full of animosity toward the Muslim community.  We are drawing lines based on religion and ethnicity and race.  We identify with our group and resent any others.  We are creating our own civil war when we should be coming together, unified against this sham of an organization.

You see, ISIS does not represent Islam any more than Westboro represents Christianity.  There will always be extremists, but they do not truly serve God.  They use the guise in an attempt to justify their wrongdoing.  And it’s working.  Can you imagine if after the Oklahoma City bombing we publicly castigated all white farmers from Michigan?  In fact, do you know what the deadliest school massacre in the United States was?  Not Columbine.  Not Sandyhook.  No, in fact, it took place in Bath, Michigan in 1927.  Again, a white farmer from Michigan murdered his wife, detonated an explosion at the local school, killing 38 elementary students, six adults, and injured 58 others before killing himself. That would be two mass killers who are white farmers from Michigan.  Does that mean all are evil?  Should we fear the farmers? The reality is that there are bad people in this world, in every race, religion, and gender.  It just so happens that we are currently focused on the Muslims and Islam as the enemy du jour.  That saddens me.

We attack the hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women.  We tell them they are in America and to shed the garb, yet Jews wear yarmulkes, nuns wear habits, priests wear collars without criticism, all doing so to represent their faith.  And do you know that along with the hijab, the Muslim women also cover everything (arms, legs, etc.) except for hands and face.  Why? Modesty.  Perhaps rather than criticize we should take note and encourage our young girls to cover up a little more rather than parade around in sports bras and skirts so short that they leave nothing to the imagination.  Muslims do not drink alcohol.  And why is that wrong?  Muslims don’t eat pork, and we condemn that.  When was the last time we called out the Catholics for not eating meat on Lenten Fridays? Or Jews for not eating pork? Muslims fast during Ramadan.  Catholics fast on holy days.  Why is it acceptable for one and not the other?  And what is wrong with praying throughout the day?  This society seems to turn away from God more and more each day, and you see how well that is working.  I have a difficult time condemning one for practicing modesty, clean eating, deeply rooted faith expressed in daily prayer, and not imbibing in alcohol.

I have Muslim friends, and they are the most generous and kind people with whom I have had the pleasure of knowing. They are horrified by these ISIS incidents. They live in fear of these terrorists as much as I, if not more so.  I cannot imagine seeing this horror unfold before my eyes, committed by people falsely claiming to share my religious views.  It is bad enough to see the Westboro people picketing funerals and spewing their hateful venom in the name of Christianity. That embarrasses me beyond words.  I cannot imagine if these people violently raped and murdered innocent victims in the name of my God.  I could not support that simply because they claim to be Christians.  I could not support the priests guilty of molesting young boys, but at the same time, I recognize that not all priests are guilty nor do the actions of a few imply that all Catholics are supporters of pedophilia.  True Muslims do not support this evil occurring today, yet many are paying the price simply by being Muslim.  It breaks my heart.

Could the “kind Muslims” be conspiring against me, drawing me in with kindness to then turn on me?  I’ve been asked that several times, and yes, they could be. I could be completely fooled and naive. I don’t believe so, but I could be.  However, I would rather wrongly love than wrongly hate.  Three years ago, my son was the only Christian on a basketball team of Muslims.  It was his first year participating with this organization.  Before the playoff game, the team gathered at mid court, knelt, and they prayed together.  My son respectfully participated; that was his team.  After they finished with their prayer, the coach then looked at my son and asked him to lead them in his prayer.  He did, and again, they all respectfully prayed together.  Was there a difference in their prayers?  Not really.  Were they one team praying together to a God from whom they were seeking protection and grace and love? Absolutely.  And that is what mattered.

No religion has been free from controversy and scandal.  No religion has been free from persecution.  History continues to repeat itself: same story, different players.  If we want to win this war, we need to understand the war we are truly fighting and who our allies are.  We, as human beings from differing backgrounds, need to come together, unified against evil. It really is that simple.

Hugh Bernard Fox, Jr. (February 12, 1932 – September 4, 2011)

It’s been four years since my writing mentor died. It seems so long ago, and then it seems like yesterday.  Cliché, I know, but believe me, it’s the only cliché in this relationship.

It all began in a classroom on the campus of Michigan State University, and as classes begin this week (as well as it being the anniversary of his death), his absence hit heavy in my heart.  He was my professor in 1990 for an American Thought and Language course.  I spoke to him the first day after class, and from there, we met for coffee at least once a week for years.

We discovered early on that he shared a birthday with my grandfather, and I with his daughter.  That only strengthened our connection.  Fate, he called it.  I grew to know his family, and ultimately, he referred to me as a member of his clan, his non-traditional, one-of-a-kind family unit.  His family dynamic was just that, dynamic.

He was fascinating, living a life that presented like a work of fiction, and writing with a passion unmatched by any other whom I have ever met.  Yet all I see in my mind when I picture him is his tweed coat and matching cap, latte and a muffin, crumbs speckled across his chest without fail. He just left the crumbs there, never even noticing them through our entire visit.  He was childlike, so in love with life and its experiences, and generous to a fault.  And his laugh…so hearty and full of life.  I miss that laugh.

Hugo, as I called him, wanted everyone to experience a perfect life. He even tried to direct the course to what he felt would lead to the best outcome, and at times, it caused great frustration for me.  I teased him about taking on the role of puppet master of the universe; he cared so deeply for so many, and this was how he showed it. It was all with good intention, though, so it was difficult to remain upset. There was the time he felt I needed a nice Jewish boy in my life, so he blindsided me with an impromptu date at one of our coffee engagements. I was less than pleased. Looking back, though, I realize how amusing it really was.

He was my biggest cheerleader, from support of my writing to the bogus parking ticket I received in East Lansing, when he went to court with me to fight it. I lost, but in hindsight, I see my real win was in having Hugo for a friend.  He supported me so often when no one else did, and I knew if I ever felt down, a call to him never failed to comfort me.

He was quirky yet so intelligent, in a way that most were incapable of following his thought pattern.  Imagine five expressos and a strobe light…delightfully chaotic!  He loved to mess with people, to walk up and begin talking to them as if he knew them.  At first, I was shocked and appalled with his boldness, but eventually I grew to realize it was all in fun, and if you don’t have fun in life, what do you really have? That was his greatest lesson to me.

I researched his work for my final project at Michigan State while earning a degree in English-Creative Writing.  I cannot begin to explain how valuable that experience still is to me, all of the time and tapes and notes. A few years later, when my first book was picked up by a publisher, he was already making plans for the next book. The puppet master was at it once again! He never settled, always planning the next project.  We were so alike in that we had so many ideas in our heads, but not enough time to get through them all, an office full of notes and sketches and outlines. He pushed for me to go on for my Masters, and then, when I was hired by a local university as an instructor, he was the proud peacock. His prodigy blossomed.

When he was first diagnosed with cancer, I never entertained the thought of his death. I couldn’t imagine life without him.  He defied the odds throughout his entire life, and I assumed this would follow suit.  And it did. For years, he was healthy and vibrant, he was Hugo.  He downplayed any negatives in his life, and this was no different.  I embraced our time together, and the primary focus was never on his health or his longevity.  It may have provided a false sense of security for me, but looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I remember the day I received the call, Labor Day of 2011.  We were supposed to have lunch that following week.  It was common for him to call to confirm, but when I saw the number pop up on the caller ID, I knew.  My heart sank, yet I mustered up a cheerful greeting when I answered, hoping my gut was wrong. It wasn’t, though. It was his daughter, and he had died earlier that day following his battle with cancer and an ensuing infection. My mentor, my friend was really gone.

I had over twenty one years of friendship with Hugo.  I miss him immensely.  Perhaps today, in honor of his life, I will sit down with a latte and a muffin, and I will let the crumbs fall where they may.  Abrazos, my friend!

One Hundred and Seventy Four Steps (from 6/12/12)

I have taken that walk many times, more than I am able to count, that walk of 174 steps.  That is the number to steps it takes from the point of entering the woods to the point of exiting the woods behind my son’s preschool.  I have walked that  174 steps over and over with him, as well as with his older siblings, from the fabulous fall colors through the crisp winter snow and into the splendor of spring, all green and fresh.  The path winds through the woods providing a relaxing walk, even in the rain or the gently falling snow.  I embraced the beauty in the walk each time I took it.  In the past, I have always pushed a stroller down that path, but not this year. This is the first year I have had only one child with me.  My son.  In the morning, we talk about the weather and guess if it will be outside or inside recess, and we wager on what the snack will be.  We hold hands, and every day, that little boy tells me that he loves me.  He holds my complete attention.  My solitary walks back to my car allow me time to organize my day and create my mental to-do list, and on the way to retrieve him, I am able to decompress, to rid myself of all other thoughts, let go of any angst,  and place my focus solely on my son for our after school talk. On the way to the car after school, he tells me about his snack (were we correct in our guess?), what he made in messy art (I am able to usually tell at least what color the paint was by his sleeve), and with whom he played on the playground that day.  It is the same talk, time after time, day after day, but it seems fresh and new each time we engage.  Through the seasons, we have discovered ducks and given them names, found frogs, chased squirrels, counted butterflies as they floated around us, gazed at dragonflies, admired the blooms of the flowers, jumped in puddles, skipped, made up silly songs, watched the ice form along the edges of the path, jumped on the” two woods” (stumps) next to the school, listened to the train in the distance and the wind whisper through the trees, smelled the smells in the air, and just appreciated the nature surrounding us.   All of this in 174 steps.  In ten days, that is nearly a mile.   Over the years, I have completed a couple of marathons, I am sure.  Today, though, was the last leg of the final marathon.   Today was the last day of school.  It isn’t only the last day for my son; it is the last day preschool will be housed in that particular building.  I first entered that school seven years ago, so there is a deeper history for my family.  I have had four children attend that school.  I have walked that 174 steps many, many times.  I have sought and found solace within the comfort of those woods.  Today, though, my heart was heavy as I made that final walk.  The spring was not in my step;  the comfort was nowhere to be found.  My son is growing up, and as happy as I am to witness that, it places a lump in my throat today.  This is it.  Every other “last day” was the last day for that particular child; I was returning.  Not this time, not ever.  It is my final “three year old preschool”.  It is the final preschool in that building. It was my final walk down that path to retrieve my child.  My final 174 steps.  The marathon has come to an end; the victory is bittersweet.   But in the fall, we will find ourselves a new path, hand in hand, once again.

The Path of 174 StepsThe Path of 174 Steps